Celebrating 70 Years of Great Art 1946 – 2016

15 January 2016


The Arts Council Collection is pleased to announce plans for marking its 70th anniversary during 2016. The celebrations will include 8 new commissions that will go on display across the UK - the first one opening tomorrow - and two new touring exhibitions, Night at the Museum, curated by Ryan Gander, and Drawn from Life: People on Paper.

The 8 artists who are making new work for the Arts Council Collection’s 70th Anniversary Commissions are:  John Akomfrah, Hurvin Anderson, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Ryan Gander, Mark Leckey, Katie Paterson, Heather Phillipson and Keith Piper. The commissions will open at different venues across the UK throughout 2016 before becoming a permanent part of the Arts Council Collection where they will be available for loan to museums, galleries and other spaces nationally and internationally. Half of the artists selected for the commissions - John Akomfrah, Hurvin Anderson, Katie Paterson and Heather Phillipson - will be joining the Collection for the first time, the others contributing major new works.  



The Arts Council Collection : Celebrating 70 Years of Great Art 1946 – 2016

Jill Constantine, Head of the Arts Council Collection, said: “The Arts Council Collection may be 70 years old but never has it felt so young, vibrant and exciting. Our 70th anniversary commissions demonstrate what we do best - putting artists at the heart of the Collection. We are thrilled that the artists, half of whom are joining the Collection for the first time, will all be represented by such significant pieces. Their works will be seen and enjoyed by the broadest possible audience – when they first go on display during 2016, and beyond as they are made available for loan to galleries and museums across the country. We are deeply grateful to the artists and all our partner venues for their enthusiastic response to the project and their desire to become involved with our 70th anniversary.”

The Arts Council Collection will also premiere two new touring exhibitions in its anniversary year: Night In the Museum (16 July – 16 October 2016), curated by artist Ryan Gander, will open at Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park on 16 July (until 16 October 2016). Gander has selected a range of figurative sculptures with an active gaze, positioning them in the gallery so that they can observe major examples of modern and contemporary British art. Gander’s selection will provide a fresh perspective of the Arts Council Collection and an alternative view of recent British art, one which offers new narratives and unlikely correspondences. More details of the exhibition will be announced in spring 2016.

Drawn from Life: People on Paper, opening at The Collection in Lincoln on 26 February (until 17 April 2016) before touring, will bring together some of the finest drawings in the Arts Council Collection, from the beginning of the early twentieth century to the present. The exhibition will feature surprising examples from very early on in artists’ careers, such as a self-portrait by Richard Hamilton from 1939, the carefully drawn Mrs Ash Asleep by Howard Hodgkin from 1952, Peter Blake’s Portrait of a Man from 1950 and Eduardo Paolozzi’s Drawings from Rembrandt, 1945.

As we launch our anniversary celebrations, we would like to express our gratitude to all the artists and partner organisations across the country who have supported the Arts Council Collection over the last 70 years. We look forward to working with you and many more for the next 70 years.



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

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