With over 7500 works of art spanning more than sixty years, the Collection can be seen in exhibitions and displays at home and abroad, as well as through long-term loans to public buildings across the UK.
The Collection is managed by the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre on behalf of Arts Council England and is based at The Hayward Gallery in London and at Longside, Yorkshire Sculpture Park. As a Collection 'without walls', it has no permanent gallery; however, changing displays of sculpture, video and installations from the Arts Council Collection are regularly on view at Longside Gallery.
The Collection was formed in 1946. It includes works by major British artists of twentieth century and continues to acquire innovative and significant work by emerging artists today. Through its policy of adventurous and timely acquisitions, responding rapidly to developments in artistic practice, the Arts Council Collection is exemplary in its scope, vitality and eminence.
Acquisitions are made through a committee of six individuals, usually an artist, a writer, a curator and a senior representative from the Hayward Gallery and Arts Council England. Working on a two-year cycle, the committee makes recommendations to purchase innovative works of art that reflect artistic practice in Britain at that time.
The Acquisitions Committee is chaired by Caroline Douglas (Head of the Arts Council) with Ralph Rugoff (Director, The Hayward), Jill Constantine (Senior Curator, Arts Council Collection) and Vivienne Bennett (Director, Visual Arts, Arts Council England). The external advisers to the Acquisitions Committee for 2013-2015 are: Alex Farquharson, Director, Nottingham Contemporary; Martin Herbert, Associate Editor, Art Review; Elizabeth Price, Artist and Lisa Beauchamp, Modern and Contemporary Curator, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
The Arts Council Collection has acquired a number of works through gifts, the most significant of which have been the Saatchi Gifts. In 1999, the collector Charles Saatchi donated one hundred works of art to the Arts Council Collection, including works in a variety of media by many of the artists who played an essential part in the 'young British Artists' phenomenon of the 1990s. Among the sixty-four artists are Richard Billingham, Glenn Brown, Martin Creed, Siobhán Hapaska, Mariele Neudecker, Jane Simpson and Kerry Stewart. In 2003, Charles Saatchi donated a further thirty-four sculptures to the Collection, including works by Marc Quinn, Gary Webb, Jordan Baseman and Richard Wilson.
Image: Antony Gormley, Field for the British Isles (detail), 1993; © Arts Council Collection, Hayward Gallery, London.