The Arts Council Collection, one of the largest loan collections of modern and contemporary British art in the world, today, 22 March 2012, announced The Arts Council Collection Partnerships supported by Christie’s, a new partnership with four regional museums. During the four-year scheme, the partner museums – Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Leeds Museums & Galleries, Manchester Art Gallery and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool – will create a dynamic programme of displays and exhibitions based on loans from the Arts Council Collection combined with their own collections. Over the course of the scheme, the Arts Council Collection will also provide sustained curatorial and technical support in developing displays and exhibitions of works from the Collection, as well as offering a place on the Acquisitions Committee each year for one curator from a regional museum partner. The support from Christie’s, for an initial period of two years, will go directly to the museums towards curatorial research, transport, display and education. Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said: “This is an innovative piece of corporate philanthropy, bringing a truly exciting exhibitions programme to four excellent collections based in the regions. Congratulations to the Arts Council Collection for pioneering this scheme, and to Christie’s for supporting this important initiative.” The first display under the scheme will be Goshka Macuga’s large scale Kabinett der Abstraktion (after El Lissitsky), 2003, opening on 22 March – August 2012 at Leeds Museums & Galleries. Shown for the first time since it was acquired by the Arts Council Collection in 2010, the cabinet elaborates Macuga’s interest in the political and institutional aspects of collecting. It will display small-scale editions works by artists such as Christo, Joseph Beuys and Daniel Spoerri all purchased during a brief period in the late 1960s when the Arts Council Collection collected work by international as well as British based artists. From 1 June 2012 to 1 June 2013, Manchester Art Gallery will showcase its recent acquisitions in the medium of photography. Thematically grouped with the inclusion of over 20 important works from the Arts Council Collection, Focal Points: Art and Photography will include works by Keith Arnatt, Melanie Manchot, Peter Fraser, Jane and Louise Wilson and Nigel Shafran. Also opening in June (15 June – 12 October 2012), will be a display in Aston Hall, part of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, focused on portraiture, with works by Toby Ziegler, Hilary Lloyd, Peter Doig and Michael Landy from the Arts Council Collection responding to the history of the house.The Walker Art Gallery will be working with the Collection to present Turner Prize nominated Enrico David’s large-scale installation Madrepelage from 2005, which will be presented alongside some recent work during the 2012 Liverpool Biennial. Caroline Douglas, Head of the Arts Council Collection, said: “The new partnership extends and strengthens the longstanding relationship that the Arts Council Collection has with these four major collections. This is an exciting new development for the Collection, and one that will see close to a hundred of our artworks on public display in the first year alone. Having a representative from one of the partner institutions on the Acquisitions Committee gives direct access to the processes of growing a national collection, and gives us an even greater understanding of the needs of our stakeholders around the country. I’d like to thank Christie’s for generously supporting the partnership.” Francis Outred, Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s Europe, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this important and exciting initiative. The Arts Council Collection is a national treasure which has been assembled with incredible prescience over the past 66 years. In these austere times, Christie’s is honoured to be able to support an initiative, which will allow the Collection to be taken around the country, and to be appreciated by millions of art lovers who will have free access to ground-breaking, curated exhibitions of contemporary art.”
Toby Watley, Head of Programming at Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, said: “We are delighted to be staging this exhibition at Aston Hall, which has been developed through The Arts Council Collection Partnerships supported by Christie’s. The Jacobean mansion provides a stunning backdrop to showcase these extraordinary works of contemporary art, and we are sure it will add a unique element to the visitor experience this summer.” Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said: “We are thrilled to be working with the Arts Council Collection in this new partnership over the next four years and we’d like to also thank Southbank Centre, Arts Council England and Christie’s for this tremendous opportunity. We are hugely excited about the amazing art, which will be coming to Leeds from the Arts Council Collection as a result of this partnership, and we look forward to seeing the piece by Goshka Macuga go on display in Leeds Art Gallery this week.” Maria Balshaw, Director of Manchester City Galleries, said: “We know the incredible appetite for contemporary art in Manchester and this partnership with the outstanding Arts Council Collection, supported by Christie’s, means we’ll be able to sustain and delight our audiences.” Sandra Penketh, Head of Art Galleries at National Museums Liverpool, said: “The Walker Art Gallery is delighted to be working with the Arts Council Collection and Christie’s through this exciting partnership, which promises to bring some really thrilling and important art to our visitors. We look forward to developing exciting exhibitions and loans which will offer new ways to interpret and enrich our permanent collection.” The Arts Council Collection, which is run by Southbank Centre on behalf of Arts Council England, is one of Britain’s foremost national collections of post-war British Art. As a collection ‘without walls’, it has no permanent gallery; it can be seen on long term loan to museums, galleries, schools, hospitals, colleges and charitable associations and in touring exhibitions and displays at home and abroad. It is also, importantly, the most widely circulated and easily accessible collection of its kind, with nearly 8000 works available for loan. Established in 1946 to promote and enrich knowledge of contemporary art, the Collection continues to acquire works by artists, many at an early stage of their career, living and working in Britain and to foster the widest possible access to modern and contemporary across the UK. For more information visit www.artscouncilcollection.org.uk.