Artwork from some of the country's biggest names will be shown at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery after it was given £600,000 to showcase the Arts Council Collection – the UK’s most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.
The collection celebrates British talent from the 20th century to the present day and is known as the nation’s leading “art lending library”.
The move will see Birmingham-based artists Barbara Walker, Chris Clinton, Lucy Hutchinson and Stuart Whipps exhibited alongside pieces by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Lucian Freud, Mark Wallinger, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Grayson Perry, Glenn Brown and Jeremy Deller.
Dr Ellen McAdam, director at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “This is an enormously prestigious programme and a great coup for Birmingham Museums.
“Arts Council Collection has amassed an incredible collection of contemporary art over the last 70 years, and this announcement will see many pieces from its collection coming to Birmingham where it will be on public display in our largest ever programme of modern art exhibitions.
”What makes it so exciting is the Arts Council’s continuing engagement with many of the great artists it has collected.
“The Waterhall has already grown a reputation for displaying pieces by new and emerging artists.
“This will add works by some of the biggest names of the 20th and 21st centuries to our exhibition programme, enabling us to showcase our own collections alongside the Arts Council’s contemporary art in the larger Gas Hall.
“The partnership also provides funding to engage with new audiences around the city, so that these prestigious artworks can be seen by many more people.”
Peter Knott, the Midlands’ area director for Arts Council England, said: “This is brilliant news for Birmingham Museums Trust and will ensure more people in the Midlands can enjoy the Arts Council Collection.
“Birmingham is already home to an exceptional selection of pre-Raphaelite paintings as well as many outstanding collections attracting tourists from around the world.
“Now local people and visitors alike will have the chance to enjoy these alongside works from one of the most significant collections of contemporary British art.”
Zelina Garland, curatorial and exhibitions manager at Birmingham Museums, added: “This is a hugely exciting opportunity for us to co-curate new content with artists with national and international profiles.
“We will be able to create experimental exhibitions and to display work from the West Midlands alongside some of the biggest names in contemporary art.
“The partnership runs for three years, but the focus that it will bring on Birmingham as a beacon for new art will last much longer – bringing new people to the city, and making connections with local people who do not currently access the 800,000 items that we already hold.”
Who are the National Partners?
Birmingham Museums Trust, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne and the Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool now join Yorkshire Sculpture Park as the Collection’s four National Partners.
They will collectively host more than 20 exhibitions between April 1, 2016 and the end of March, 2019.
The Partner exhibitions will feature eight new commissions announced as part of the Collection’s 70th anniversary programme, from artists including John Akomfrah, Hurvin Anderson, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Ryan Gander, Mark Leckey, Katie Paterson, Heather Phillipson and Keith Piper.