The Accession Registers are one of the most significant record series maintained by the Gallery: they document the accession of portraits into the Gallery's Primary Collection. I.e. the Gallery's main display collection of portraits (such portraits are prefixed with NPG or P within the Gallery's portrait numbering system). In essence, the Accession Registers provide a formal record of change of status: from offer to acceptance into the Collection. They are completed quarterly following meetings of the Board of Trustees, at which the acquisition of portraits for the Primary Collection are approved. The Accession Registers conclude the acquisition process.
The Gallery currently maintains the following two sub-series of Accession Register for the Primary Collection:
- Accession Registers for Primary Collection Photographs
- Accession Registers for Primary Collection works in all other media (eg. painting; sculpture; drawing; miniatures etc.).
In the past, a third set was also maintained: this recorded the accession of portraits for the Contemporary Portraits Collection (CPC). This Register was in use between 1972 and 1993 and records the accession of 57 portraits. Further information about the CPC can be found at sub-series level (Ref: NPG42/3).
In accordance with the recommendations laid down by the UK Museum Documentation Standard (Spectrum) the Gallery maintains a master and duplicate copy of the Accession Registers. The former is made of archival quality paper; signed and date on each page; bound in permanent form; and kept in a secure environment.
The Accession Registers record the following information: NPG Register number; sitter name; artist name; description; size; method of acquisition, source; date; and - where relevant - price paid.