Visitors on the Autism Spectrum: The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace

General Information for a Visit to The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace

From 8 March – 14 April 2016, The Queen's Gallery will show Scottish Artists 1750-1900: From Caledonia to the Continent and then from 15 April – 9 October 2016 an additional exhibition, Maria Merian's Butterflies will also be on display.

Scottish Artists tells the story of the long-standing association between Scottish artists and the monarchy. Maria Merian's Butterflies tells the extraordinary story of the German artist and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian who set sail for Suriname, in South America, in 1699 aiming to explore the life-cycle of insects.

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

Visitors buying their tickets upon entrance to The Queen's gallery, Buckingham Palace

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.

Entering the Exhibition

The Queen's Gallery Entrance

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.

Gallery Lobby

Visitors entering The Queen's Gallery, London

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.

The Exhibition

Here you can ask to borrow one of these:

1. Multimedia tour

The warden will tell you how to use it. The tour tells you about both exhibitions using spoken word with some background music, images and video clips. You can stop and restart the tour at any point. There is a different tour, on the same device, for both exhibitions. Each tour lasts approximately 50 minutes. The tour can be used with or without headphones. If used without, you should hold it like a mobile phone.

2. Plain English Script

Suitable for deaf and hard of hearing visitors who cannot listen to the audio tour and other visitors who would prefer more simple, written information.

3. Translations

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. Neck Induction Loops

For visitors who wear a hearing aid, to help them hear the audio guide better.

6. 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 all visitors, particularly families where they can relax and explore the Merian Butterflies exhibition in more detail.
Inside, the left-hand side of the room looks like Merian's artist studio including her desk with a touch screen tablet with a drawing app, a map of the world and a trunk with magnifiers and other props. A large touch screen sits on the left-hand wall with an interactive display about butterflies' metamorphosis.
The right-hand side of the room represents the Suriname jungle including a table with two touch screen tablets where visitors can browse online exhibition material. There are two book cases with books, suitable for both adults and children, to read to explore the exhibition themes in more detail. The right-hand bookcase has a headphone set linked to it which plays jungle sounds. There are several benches and two window-seat areas – there is a down-draft from the air conditioning system.

The Exhibition:

From the 15 April, the two exhibitions are shown in five different rooms as follows:

The Pennethorne Gallery – Scottish Artists

The Pennethorne Gallery with paintings and bench seating

The Nash Vestibule – Scottish Artists

The Nash Gallery – Scottish Artists

The Nash Gallery with paintings and works of art.

The Chambers Gallery – Maria Merian's Butterflies

The Small Chambers Gallery - Maria Merian's Butterflies

All of the rooms are light and spacious except for the Nash Vestibule and the Small Chambers Gallery. Visitors start with Scottish Artists in Pennethorne, then go through the Nash Vestibule into the Nash Gallery before retracing their steps back to the audio desk. The entrance to the Merian exhibition is next to the Millar Learning Room. In the first room, the Small Chambers Gallery there is a short introductory film. The exhibition continues in the Chambers Gallery before exiting back by the audio desk.

Exiting the Exhibition

When you leave the Chambers Gallery you come into a brightly lit space. There may be a slight flickering effect from the lights. To the right as you exit is a place for visitors to return multimedia tours. 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 Shop

The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace shop

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.