National Gallery finally reopens nearly 24 hours after man scales building

A man is led away by officers  (@Faroukjames_/Twitter)
A man is led away by officers (@Faroukjames_/Twitter)

The National Gallery has finally reopened nearly 24 hours after a man “in distress” scaled the gallery roof on Tuesday afternoon.

Metropolitan Police officers were called to the gallery just after 2.30pm on Tuesday where a man was reported to be on the roof in a distressed condition.

The man, in a grey tracksuit, had been seen standing perilously close to the edge of the building with his arms outstretched.

Officers clambered the landmark and entered negotiations convincing the man to come down safely after a whole night on top of the gallery.

One onlooker told the Standard: “My son was concerned for him. Police told us he has mental health problems and wasn’t protesting about anything.

“The police escorted him down after negotiations.”

He reached the ground and was surrounded by officers just before midday on Wednesday.

Local roads had been closed as a precaution with the gallery confirming that it would remain closed for Wednesday morning.

The National Gallery said in a statement: “The incident in Trafalgar Square has been resolved. The Gallery is now open again and Summer on the Square will reopen from 12:30pm.

“If you had booked a free Gallery entry ticket for a time during our temporary closure this morning, you are very welcome to visit us this afternoon without rebooking.”

The gallery, a major tourist attraction, was closed at 3.45pm on Tuesday. It reported almost three million visits in 2022, according to the Art Newspaper.

The permanent collection contains more than 2,300 works, including Van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers. All major traditions of Western European painting are represented, from artists of late medieval and Renaissance Italy to French Impressionists.