From 07 November 2014 – 22 February 2015 The Queen's Gallery will show two different exhibitions.
Cairo to Constantinople: Early Photographs of the Middle East is an exhibition of photographs from the then Prince of Wales' Royal Tour of 1862.
Gold is an exhibition exploring the beauty and symbolism of gold in art.
One ticket allows you to see both exhibitions on the same day. A visit to The Queen’s Gallery typically last an hour and a half. There are people in uniforms (Wardens) who can help you with any questions during your visit.
The Entrance Hall is a large space. Like most tall stone spaces, it echoes. Visitors queue to buy tickets, and then enter the exhibition or go into the shop. It can be more difficult to hear voices clearly in this hallway, because of the levels of background noise. Staff try to speak as clearly as possible.
Before you enter the exhibition you must go through security. All visitors must follow the instructions of the wardens (dressed in uniform). Visitors must show their ticket at the desk and will have their bags manually searched by a warden. The warden will be careful and try to put things back as they were.
You will then be asked to walk through a metal detecting arch. This arch makes a loud noise if it detects something metal. If that happens, staff will use a hand-held detector and wave it around your body to find out what set-off the alarm. The detector should not touch your body. Often a watch or metal belt buckle will have caused the alarm to sound. You are then given your bags again.
You will go through a set of doors into a lobby area.
The Gallery lobby is quite dark, and the light levels change dramatically from the Entrance Hall. There are patterns on the floor and the echo is worse than the Entrance Hall.
There are four options from the lobby:
1. The Cloakroom
Straight ahead, on the left, is a ‘cloakroom’ where visitors can leave bags and coats if they wish. Any large rucksacks or suitcases must be left in the cloakroom. The warden behind the desk will then give you a ticket. Give this back to them at the end of your visit, and they will give you your belongings. If you are not sure whether your bags are too large to carry round with you, you can ask the warden at the cloakroom desk.
2. The Lavatories
These can be found in the cloakroom area. There is an accessible lavatory with a wheelchair sign on the door. It can be used by any visitor who cannot use the other lavatories. The other lavatories are through a doorway, opposite the accessible lavatory. They are indicated by a sign of a man and a woman on the wall.
3. The Lift
The Lift is in the far corner, near the accessible lavatory. It will take you up to the exhibition level on the first floor.
4. The Staircase
If you do not wish to use the lift, go back towards the entrance. There are two flights of stairs which will also take you up to the exhibition.
Here you can ask to borrow one of these:
1. Audio Guide
The warden will tell you how to use it. The audio guide tells you about both exhibitions. It has some background music. You can stop and restart the audio guide at any point. Both tours last approximately 45 minutes each. The audio guide can be used with or without headphones. If used without, you should hold it like a mobile phone.
2. Audio Guide Script
Also suitable for deaf and hard of hearing visitors who cannot listen to the audio guide.
Translations of the main information panels in the Gallery into a number of different languages for non-English speakers.
4. Large Print Text
Copies of all the text (labels and panels) in the exhibition.
5. Magnifying Glasses
For visitors who might find it difficult to see some of the detail in the works in the exhibition.
6. Neck Induction Loops
For visitors who wear a hearing aid, to help them hear the audio guide better.
7. Family Activity Bags
These typically contain a selection of games and trails for families with children.
The Millar Learning Room:
This is on the left of the staircase, slightly behind you as you stand at the audio desk. It is a space for families where they can relax and explore the Cairo exhibition in more detail.
Inside there are three touch screen computers and a large screen on the wall, which visitors can use to browse online exhibition material and read the Prince of Wales's 1862 journal.
One of the walls is covered with a photograph from the exhibition and there are Victorian hats that can be tried on. Visitors may be taking photos of themselves and their friends dressed up.
There are also two explorer hats in the room that conceal headphones and these can be used to listen to clips from the BBC Radio 4 programme In a Prince's Footsteps .
In the middle of the room there is a low table with 'The 1862 Royal Tour' board game and some cushions.
There are a number of books in the room. These tell visitors about the exhibition themes in more detail; there are books suitable for both adults and children. There are several stools and two window-seat areas – there is a down-draft from the air conditioning system.
There are four rooms, showing the two exhibitions:
The Pennethorne Gallery – the Green Room, showing the Cairo exhibition
The Nash Vestibule – the narrow Red Room, showing the Cairo exhibition
The Nash Gallery – the large Red Room, showing the Cairo exhibition
The Chambers Gallery – the large Blue Room, showing the Gold exhibition
The Small Chambers Gallery - the small Blue Room, showing the Gold exhibition
All of the rooms are light and spacious except for the narrow Red Room and the small Blue Room. We recommend you start with the Cairo exhibition, and then see Gold.
To see the Cairo exhibition go into the Green Room, and then once you have seen all of the photos here you go through the Nash Vestibule – a smaller, darker space, where there is a slope downwards, in a dark grey flooring, different to the previous wooden floor – before entering a large Red Room.
Once you have seen all the photos in the Red Room retrace your steps to exit the way you came in.
The entrance to the Gold exhibition is through the door to the right of the Audio Guide desk, you see everything in the large Blue Room and then exit via the small Blue Room.
When you leave the small Blue Room you come into a brightly lit space. There may be a slight flickering effect from the lights. In front of you, at the opposite end of the landing, is a place for visitors to return their audio guide. You put the headphones on the rack and the audio player machine in the box on the desk. To the left is a short staircase which leads to staff areas of the Gallery and a lecture space, but this is not part of the exhibition.
You can give back other borrowed guides and equipment at the Audio Guide desk.
Remember to collect your belongings from the cloakroom, downstairs, if you left some there. You exit the same way you came in.
The entrance to the shop is in the Gallery Foyer, you can visit the shop before or after the exhibition.
The shop is very brightly lit. There are central ceilings lights and a lot of glass cabinets with lights. To the left, as you enter, there is a ramp taking you up to the higher level. The ramp brings you up near the jewellery counter where there is a lot of bright light and glass. There are also three stairs up to the higher level. These are made of stone, and can be difficult to see when coming down. Please be careful. You exit the shop the same way you came in.