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Our art collections include more than 1,600 works of art and craft and represent more than 700 years of creativity and making from the 15th century to the present day. Founded on the donations of local people, especially wealthy industrialists in the early 20th century, and the subsequent support of organisations such as Art Fund and Contemporary Art Society, substantial holdings include:

  • Northern European 17th century portraits and landscapes
  • British Victorian genre, narrative and landscape painting
  • Early British modernist art
  • 20th century British figurative work
  • Late 19th/early 20th century British Impressionism
  • Topographical and landscape painting by local artists
  • Contemporary art and craft from the 1970s

Highlights include:

Women Artists

Our collection includes art by women artists from the 19th century through to the present day, with strong examples of work by figures such as Henrietta Ward, Alice Havers, Laura Knight, Vanessa Bell, Gillian Ayres, Lubaina Himid, Susan Hiller, Cornelia Parker, Claire Barclay and Hayley Tompkins.

Our commitment to diversity and gender equality continues today, and in 2017 we were awarded an Art Fund New Collecting Award to strengthen our collection with recent acquisitions from Caroline Achaintre, Anthea Hamilton, Susan Collis, Rachel Kneebone, Jasleen Kaur and Helen Cammock amongst others.

Highlights include:

Susan Collis
Image: Susan Collis, Our Wandering Kind, 2011
Susan Hiller
Image: Susan Hiller, Gulf War 1, 1991
Rachel Kneebone
Image: Rachel Kneebone, What is remembered in the body is well remembered, 2017