Arts Council Collection

Hayward Gallery’s management of the 7,500-strong 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 is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art. Now in its 70th year, it includes nearly 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists and can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond.

The Arts Council Collection began when the Arts Council of Great Britain was founded in 1946, with the aim to promote and encourage the appreciation of contemporary art through touring exhibitions. Since then the Collection has continued to grow, acquiring innovative works each year and circulating these as widely as possible.

Relationship with Southbank Centre

Since 1986 the Arts Council Collection has been managed by the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, on behalf of Arts Council England. It is based at the Southbank Centre, London and at Longside, Yorkshire Sculpture Park. A diverse and stimulating range of exhibitions from the Collection, including displays of some of the most recent acquisitions, can often be seen in Longside Gallery.

Collection highlights

The Collection includes important, often early, work by all of the most influential British artists from the mid-twentieth century to the present day, including Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Victor Pasmore, David Hockney, Bridget Riley, Patrick Caulfield, Gilbert & George, Richard Hamilton, Richard Deacon, Antony Gormley, Mark Wallinger, Peter Doig, Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread, Chris Ofili, Steve McQueen, Mona Hatoum, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Grayson Perry, Glenn Brown, Jeremy Deller, Keith Coventry and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Touring exhibitions

The ACC has an extensive touring exhibition programme. Past exhibitions have included One Day, Something Happens: Paintings of People, which has toured from Leeds, Nottingham, Drogheda, Southport and Easbourne, Night in the Museum: Ryan Gander Curates the Arts Council Collection, which opened in summer 2016 and will tour from Yorkshire to Birmingham and Leicester. Grayson Perry’s six tapestries, The Vanity of Small Differences, have toured since 2013 to venues in Sunderland, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool. 

National Partners Programme

Between now and June 2019 the Arts Council Collection will be working with four major galleries outside London, Birmingham Museums Trust, Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Towner Gallery, Eastbourne to curate, host, and share a series of exciting and innovative new exhibitions drawn from the Collection. Each of the partner venues to present a wide programme of activity, ranging from original exhibitions featuring work from the Collection to the development of educational and digital initiatives to make the Arts Council Collection even more accessible to audiences across the UK.

The National Partners Programme aims to extend the Arts Council Collection’s reach to new and existing communities, whilst also allowing the National Partner galleries to strengthen their relationship with the Collection and with the artists it features.

The National Partners Programme is supported by Arts Council England and Southbank Centre.

collection online

For more information about the Collection and to see current tour dates and venues

loaning works

A wide range of institutions can borrow works from the Arts Council Collection