The Hound managed to sneak an invite to the National Portrait Gallery’s reopening last night and was very pleasantly surprised. 

Going to art galleries and museums has become something of a nightmare over the past decade. What with the constant rewriting of history, the politically correct slop on the panels, the renouncing of heritage and the curatorial denial of nuance and complexity. 

But not so at the NPG. As director Nicholas Cullinan recently told The Times: “This place tells the history of Britain through individuals, and with every individual there is light and shade. 

“We aren’t in the business of passing fashionable moral judgment on historical figures. We know our visitors can form their own opinions.”

A gallery treating its visitors like discerning adults? A rare treat. This is a time when we have become used to political stunts such as Tate Britain reducing Hogarth to the brutally acquired timber of his chair or the Wellcome Collection shutting an exhibition about its own founder on the grounds that it told a colonial story of a man with “enormous wealth, power and privilege”.

Another great achievement from the team behind the reopening – and there are many – is the acquisition of Reynolds’s Omai in collaboration with the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The portrait of the first Tahitian to visit England from around 1776 is staggeringly beautiful.

As the champagne flowed, the likes of Stephen Fry and Andrew Lloyd Webber were strolling with groups of clinger-onners pointing out their favourite pieces or points of particular interest. 

At one point I turned a corner to spy Matt Hancock looking hyper-normal, with his trainers and Cuban-collared shirt, earlier telling the Evening Standard: “I’m just dressed like my constituents.” West Suffolk must be going through a Tom Selleck phase at the moment.

The night culminated in a particularly self-indulgent and volatile DJ set – less a set, more hitting play on a random playlist – from a vaping Courtney Love.

All in all, a splendid evening.

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