About Us

Arts Council Collection: About Us

The Arts Council Collection is the most widely circulated national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art. Founded in 1946, the Collection reaches the broadest possible audience through long loans to public institutions, exhibition loans, touring exhibitions, as well as digital and print publications.

The Collection supports artists in the UK through the purchase and display of their work, and safeguards it for future generations, using the highest possible standards of collection care.

Operating as a ‘museum without walls’, the Arts Council Collection is the largest national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art in the world, and includes important examples by all of the UK’s most prominent artists. It is the most widely circulated of all of Britain’s national collections and can be seen in exhibitions in museums and galleries across the UK and abroad. Unique among national collections, the Arts Council Collection also lends to numerous public buildings across the UK, including schools, universities, hospitals and charitable associations.

History of the Collection

The Arts Council Collection began when the Arts Council of Great Britain was founded in 1946. It took over a small group of paintings from the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) and its aim was to promote and encourage the appreciation of contemporary art through touring exhibitions.

The Collection has continued to grow, acquiring innovative works each year and circulating these as widely as possible. There are now almost 8,000 works in the Collection, including paintings, sculptures, original works on paper, prints and moving image.

Since 1986, the Arts Council Collection has been managed by the Southbank Centre, on behalf of Arts Council England. It is now based at the Southbank Centre, London, and at Longside, Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

 

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Arts Council Collection: About Us

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National Partners Programme

Between now and June 2019 we’ll be working with each of the National Partner venues to present a programme of exhibitions and events.
Exhibitions

Discover more about the exhibitions near you, scroll through the archive or find out about our future shows.
Latest Acquisitions

With a focus on innovative work made by artists living in Britain, our acquisitions policy is characterised by a spirit of risk taking combined with an informed appraisal of current practice.

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The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With nearly 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyondThis website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.