The Government Art Collection (GAC), named as such in 1981, is a national collection of artworks owned by the UK government and administered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The GAC’s artworks are used to decorate major government buildings in the UK and around the world. Established in 1899, it now holds over 14,700 works of art in a variety of media which are displayed in more than 365 buildings in 155 capital cities worldwide. It promotes British art, culture and history plays a role in diplomacy. In 2020 the Collection moved into its new home in Old Admiralty Building, Admiralty Place, London and will soon open to the public with a new programme of exhibitions and events.
The GAC has shifted from its original decorative purpose in the 19th century to one which recognises and encourages new perspectives on our imperial legacy and colonial entanglements. This is reflected in its Representation of the People Project, begun in 2018, an initiative that aims to cut across all the GAC’s work, to ensure that the Collection represents British art and artists in ways that allow all of Britain’s communities to feel a sense of belonging with the Collection. The Contemporary Art Society has only ever donated only two works to the GAC; the Tricia Gillman painting, Stepping Stones I was specifically acquired for the British Embassy in Vienna in 1987, but as the GAC is now a Contemporary Art Society museum member, they will be able to collaborate more in the future.