Arts Council Collection

Hayward Gallery’s management of the Arts Council Collection adds a diverse range of exhibitions to Hayward Touring’s UK-wide programme. 

About the Arts Council Collection

The Arts Council Collection includes nearly 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists which can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country. The Collection was founded in 1946, to promote and encourage the appreciation of contemporary art through touring exhibitions, and continues to acquire innovative works each year. 

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

visit the Arts Council Collection website


The Arts Council Collection purchases innovative work by artists living in Britain, with a focus on emerging artists. These acquisitions are made through a committee of eight individuals: four internal and four external, with the external advisers - usually an artist, a writer and a curator - appointed for a fixed two-year tenure. For particularly ambitious acquisitions, the Collection has in the past received support from the Henry Moore Foundation, The Art Fund and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

National Partners Programme

The National Partners Programme was launched in 2016 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Arts Council Collection by creating a network of regional galleries and museums to present and curate exhibitions drawn from the Arts Council Collection. The first four National Partner museums and galleries were: Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne; the Birmingham Museums Trust; the Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool; and the Collection’s existing partner, Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The second round of National Partners for 2019-22 are Firstsite in Essex; Sunderland Culture in Tyne and Wear and The Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange in Cornwall. Funded by the National Lottery, the programme aims to build a deeper relationship with regional audiences by building a UK-wide network across regional partners, connecting local visitors to their national collection.

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