This important and unique national collection documents the history of Parliament, our work, people and buildings. It ranges from Medieval statues to contemporary art, reflecting key moments in our history. The collection contains more than 10,000 objects, with many forms of art represented. Searching the Parliamentary Art Collection, you will find paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, textiles, digital art and more.
A living collection
The House of Commons and the House of Lords share ownership of the Parliamentary Art Collection. Around 80% of the artworks are on display throughout the Parliamentary estate. As a living and working collection, you can find artworks in offices, corridors, meeting rooms and communal spaces.
The oldest objects are the stone statues of Medieval Kings in Westminster Hall, dating from around 1388. Thomas Canon sculpted the kings in the Gothic style for the medieval Palace of Westminster. During the mid-19th century, many of the larger works in the collection were commissioned as part of the building of the new Palace of Westminster after the fire of 1834.
We are actively expanding our contemporary collection to support and showcase the work of living artists across the UK. New items join our collection every year. Representing a variety of styles and approaches, they include site-specific works, such as the textile wall hangings in Portcullis House. Our largest recent commission is New Dawn, a permanent light sculpture in the entrance to St Stephen’s Hall. Made by artist Mary Branson, it commemorates the campaign for women’s votes.
People, places and events
Images of leading Parliamentarians form a key part of the collection, including Prime Ministers, Speakers of the House of Commons and Lord Chancellors. Portraits of monarchs sit alongside images that capture key moments in UK history.
The buildings of the Palace of Westminster and Parliamentary estate are also well represented in the collection, as are images of constituencies across the UK.
Medals and coins
The House of Commons collection of medals and coins presents a near-complete overview of awards given by monarchs to members of the armed forces over the last two centuries. Donations from three MPs form most of this part of the collection. It also includes awards to civilians and services.
Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art and the Lord Speaker’s Advisory Panel on Works of Art
A committee of MPs, and a panel of Peers help to oversee and support the Parliamentary Art Collection. The Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art and the Lord Speaker’s Advisory Panel on Works of Art are cross-bench groups of MPs and Lords appointed by the Speakers of each House. Their members advise on the use of the Parliamentary Art Collection and on new purchases and commissions.
Alongside them, a team of expert heritage staff develop, care for and interpret the collection, ensuring it remains relevant by reflecting the people and events that have made a difference to the political life of the UK.
The Parliamentary Art Collection has been managed by professional curators for decades. Richard B. Walker worked both as Art Adviser to the Ministry of Works (a past government department), and Curator of Works of Art at the Palace of Westminster. Between 1959 to 1977, he compiled a major catalogue of the collections as they were at that time. A digitised version the the catalogue has been published on archive.org.