Art masterpieces come to streets of London

12-week art exhibition across London's West End

The National Gallery and HP are bringing works of art to the streets of London with their joint Grand Tour project, announced at a briefing in London's Soho this morning.

The Grand Tour is a 12-week long exhibition featuring 45 full-size recreations of National Gallery paintings hung on walls across London's Soho, Covent Garden, and Chinatown areas. The Grand Tour aims to encourage people to take the short stroll down from the 'street artworks' to see the genuine works, and many more, in the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.

Masterpieces on show include works from Caravaggio, Constable, Gainsborough and da Vinci. They will be displayed in the most unexpected and unusual of places, including shops, cafes and even Soho massage parlours. Each picture is in a replica frame, and has an information plaque next to it - just as it has in the real Gallery.

The plaques will also include a phone number, which people can call to access a specially recorded audio guide to that particular painting, and its artist.

Collaboration

The Grand Tour is a collaboration between the National Gallery and HP, which used its highest-end HP DesignJet 10000s printer to reproduce the paintings so they exactly mirror the format of the originals.

"This is a really exciting initiative for HP to be involved in and has provided us with an opportunity to demonstrate some of our leading edge technology," said Steve Gill, managing director of HP UK & Ireland, told Tech.co.uk.

"Our imaging, printing capabilities and portfolio has enabled us to support the National Gallery with this Grand Tour concept, by producing high quality colour reproductions of these wonderful masterpieces."

National Gallery director Charles Saumarez Smith added: "This is a characteristically imaginative effort to bring art into the local community and to encourage new audiences to be aware of the great works of art to be seen in London."

"If we can't bring people to the art, we'll bring the art to the people," he added.

A map of the entire Grand Tour (including a selection of 'mini-tours') along with further information about the paintings, the story of how the project came about, audio downloads and a picture gallery are all available on a specially created website, www.thegrandtour.org.uk

The National Gallery houses a collection of over 2,300 Western European paintings dating from 1250 to 1900. The collection belongs to the British public and the gallery is open seven days a week. Entry to the permanent collection is free.