Marianne North Gallery

Travel the world through the paintings of the extraordinary Marianne North – an unsung pioneer in botanical art.

Paintings on display in the Marianne North Gallery at Kew

More than 800 remarkable paintings cover the walls of the Marianne North Gallery.  

A vivid collection of 19th century botanical art, the gallery is a treat for both art lovers and adventurous minds.  As a woman who defied convention, North travelled the world solo to record the tropical and exotic plants that captivated her.  

She challenged the tradition of Victorian flower painting and chose to paint plants in their natural settings instead. Her work became a powerful record of the dramatic landscapes she visited and the plants that inhabit them - years ahead of the invention of colour photography.   

Now, North’s vast collection of paintings is on permanent display here at Kew, exhibited in geographical order for you to follow in her footsteps. 

Visiting the Marianne North Gallery  

Nearest entrance

Victoria Gate. The Marianne North Gallery is located near the Temperate House and Pavilion restaurant. 

Price 

Included with entry to the Gardens. 

Opening times 

28 October – 15 November: Monday to Friday only, 10am – 3.45pm (last entry 3.15pm)

Then daily, 10am – 3.45pm (last entry 3.15pm)

We may occasionally need to close attractions for maintenance or visitor safety: check for planned closures and visitor notices before you visit. 

A little bit of history  

At 26 years old, Marianne North visited Kew with her father on a trip that was to inspire her life-long fascination with far-flung plants and flowers.  

After his death, she set off on a series of trips to some of the world’s most remote jungles and forests.

As a wealthy, unmarried woman, North travelled to areas that the 'establishment' thought she should not visit – from Borneo to Japan, South Africa to South America.  

Her journeys became one of the most reported subjects in the British newspapers of the period. Despite having no formal training, North’s talent gained the admiration of notable scientists, including Charles Darwin.  

After thirteen years of travel, North had an idea – to exhibit the paintings in the Gardens where her passion began. In 1879, she offered to build a gallery here if Kew Director Joseph Hooker would agree to display her life’s work. 

The gallery was completed in 1882 and is open to explore her legacy today.  

Restoring the Marianne North Gallery  

A £1.8 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant and additional donations allowed for the restoration of the building and the conservation of the artwork in 2008. 

During the project, a conservator discovered a painting hidden on the back of another painting. It had not been seen for over 120 years, since North had covered it with a backing board!  

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