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About the GAC

We select and place works of art from the Collection in major British Government buildings in the United Kingdom and around the world both to promote Britain and to reflect its history, culture and creativity in the visual arts. They are seen and enjoyed by thousands of visitors to these buildings every year.

The Collection, which has been developed over the past 112 years, contains works of art primarily by British artists ranging from the sixteenth century to the present day. We purchase and commission new works of art with the approval and expertise of an experienced committee.

Works of art by artists (from left) Howard Hodgkin and Sonia Boyce are shown here displayed in the office of Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Works of art by artists (from left) Howard Hodgkin and Sonia Boyce are shown here displayed in the office of the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport

Works from the Collection are displayed in the offices and reception rooms of several hundred major British Government buildings in the United Kingdom and around the world. In London these include 10 Downing Street and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Abroad they include the official Residences and Embassy buildings in locations as diverse as Paris, Washington, Moscow, Tokyo, Beijing, Pretoria, Canberra and New Delhi.

Loans to Temporary Exhibitions

We lend works of art to public exhibitions, both in the UK and abroad. Currently on show at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, is Lady on a Safety Tricycle (1885), a watercolour by John Lavery. This features in the exhibition ‘Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys 1880–1900’ which continues until 27 September 2010, before transferring to the Royal Academy, London from 30 October 2010 to 23 January 2011.

Townscene (1940) and Still Life: Flowers (1952), two oil paintings by Stella Steyn, are at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery in ‘Stella Steyn, Irish Modern Painter’ until 16 October 2010.

Landscape near Lyons (1922), an oil painting by Matthew Smith will be on show at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath in the exhibition ‘Matthew Smith Landscapes’ from 26 June to 5 September 2010.

Edward Lear's View of Florence from Villa San Firenze (1862) and George James Howard's The Baths of Caracalla, Rome (circa. 1890) are currently on show at the Museo d’Arte della Citta in Ravenna until 6 June in the exhibition ‘ The Pre Raphaelites in Italy: From Fra Angelico to Perugino, from Rossetti to Burne-Jones’. The show transfers to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford from 15 September – 5 December 2010.

Lady on a Safety Tricycle

John Lavery’s watercolour, Lady on a Safety Tricycle was painted in 1885, almost twenty years after the first commercially- manufactured bicycles were produced in Paris. The ‘Ordinary’, or penny farthing, developed into safety bicycles and tricycles like the one shown here which first appeared in 1879. These were steadily improved in design until about 1890 when the earliest examples of the form of bicycle we know today were manufactured.

Advisory Committee

The role of the Advisory Committee is to advise on the acquisition and commissioning of works of art and on the policy and stewardship of the Collection. The Committee meets three times a year, and members are not remunerated.

The current members of the Advisory Committee on the Government Art Collection are:

Julia Somerville

Ex Officio:
Sandy Nairne   Director, National Portrait Gallery
Sir Nicholas Serota   represented by Director, Tate Britain
Mick Elliot   Director of Culture, DCMS
Penny Johnson CBE   Director, GAC
Nicholas Penny

  Director, National Gallery
David A Bailey MBE   Senior Curator, Autograph. Project Curator with Channel 4’s Big Art
Iwona Blazwick OBE   Director, Whitechapel Gallery
Dr Andrew Renton   Director of Curating, Goldsmiths College
Sarah Shalgosky   Curator, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre



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