Our website is designed for you to explore the Government Art Collection (GAC) for learning and enjoyment.


We see the educational role of the website as:

  • promoting public access to, and self-led exploration of, the GAC
  • supporting teachers and learners to explore the Collection using a storytelling approach

How to use the Collection

Over the past 100 years, the GAC has developed a unique perspective on the relationship between art, politics and diplomacy. On this site we share some of these stories and provide insights into the common themes that have emerged.

By offering themed pathways and a variety of ways to search, (e.g. by sitter or subject) we have given you the tools to explore for yourself. We hope you will enjoy finding connections between works of art, artists and their social and/or cultural background.

If you are a student (or teacher) of art, design, history or politics, here are some suggestions of how you can explore the Collection:

  • Explore our highlighted themes e.g. Mapping the World, Focus on Women Artists, Garden Landscapes. Can you make links between GAC works and those from other public collections in the UK or internationally?
  • Invent your own theme by making connections between different GAC works. Explore these links in more detail to learn more about a particular artist, subject or material.
  • Look in more detail at the subject of politics and international diplomacy. How would you curate your own exhibition around this theme? Imagine you are asked to select GAC works of art for a British embassy abroad. Which works would you pick? Why?

Researching Artists and Works of Art

We are happy to respond to enquiries about specific works of art in the Collection. For more general enquiries, please consult the suggested web links below for further direction. Fine art reference libraries and archives are key research sources. Many specialist libraries and archives have certain access requirements, so it is essential to contact them in advance and check that their resources are relevant to your research before making a visit.

Below is a selection of major libraries and archives in the UK:

Your local public library will also have further information about relevant libraries and archives.

If you are a student, contact your school/college/university library first for advice. COPAC National, Academic, & Specialist Library Catalogue is an online resource that provides free access to the merged online catalogues of major UK and Irish university research libraries, plus the British Library and the National Library of Scotland. Archives HUB has links to archives in UK colleges and universities.