Government Art Collection

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A painting of Christopher Hatton, 1st Viscount Hatton by Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen, one of the works of art held by the Government Art Collection

The United Kingdom's Government Art Collection (GAC) places works of art in major Government buildings in the UK and around the world to promote British art, culture and history.

Works are displayed in several hundred locations, including Downing Street, ministerial offices and reception areas in Whitehall, regional government offices in the UK, and diplomatic posts in locations as diverse as Paris, Buenos Aires, Washington DC and Beijing.

Dating from 1898, the GAC now holds approximately 13,000 works of art by British artists in a variety of media including paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, textiles and video works, from the sixteenth century to the present day.

Artists represented in the collection include John Constable, William Hogarth, Lucian Freud, Paul Nash, Barbara Hepworth, Michael Landy, Bridget Riley, Emma Kay and Zarina Bhimji.

The majority of the Collection is on display in Government buildings, with a small proportion at its premises in central London for conservation or awaiting re-display.

Wherever possible, the GAC lends works of art to exhibitions in public museums and galleries throughout the UK and abroad.

The GAC also collaborates with other departments, such as the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in commissioning works of art.

At the new Home Office building in central London, the GAC commissioned a programme of public art by seven contemporary artists, and new commissions for its interior spaces. In 2005, new works of art were commissioned for the Deputy High Commissioner's offices in Chennai (formerly Madras); and for the European Commission Office at Brussels. Commissions are currently planned for the Department for Constitutional Affairs and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in London.

Works of art continue to be added to the Collection. Purchases and commissions are made under the guidance of the Advisory Committee on the Government Art Collection, whose members are appointed by the Secretary of State. The Collection receives £551,000 each year from the government, a sum that includes an acquisition budget of £220,000.[1]

The Advisory Committee[edit]

The Advisory Committee is currently chaired by Julia Somerville and comprises five ex officio members (the Directors of the National, National Portrait and Tate Galleries, as well as the Directors of the Government Art Collection and the Arts and Culture Directorate of DCMS), together with an additional four independent members.

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