Works of Art Collection FAQs

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Here are some frequently asked questions about the Parliamentary Art Collection

Q: How many works of art are there in the Collection?

A: There are approximately eight and a half thousand works of art in the Collection. These are made up of around 7100 paintings, drawings, prints and photographs, 700 sculptures, 600 coins and medals, 50 textiles, and 20 original wallpaper fragments.

Q: What is the oldest work of art in the Collection?

A: The oldest works of art in the Collection are 14 statues of medieval kings which stand in Westminster Hall. They date to around 1388, which makes them over 600 years old. They were once brightly coloured with rich paintwork and gilding, however this has worn away over the years to reveal the stone carving beneath. They date from when Westminster Hall was a Royal residence during the reign of Richard II.

The oldest picture of the Palace of Westminster itself is by the artist Jan Lievens. It is an ink drawing which shows the way that the Palace looked in around 1630. See the image by entering WOA 6417 into Search the Collection. 

Q: Who looks after the Collection?

A: The Collection is administered by a Committee in both the House of Commons and The House of Lords.

The works of art are cared for by the Curator’s Office which was established in 1981. There has been a curator looking after the works of art in the Palace of Westminster since the Victorian era. When the Palace was rebuilt following the fire of 1834, the curator’s job was to oversee the creation and installation of all the art works commissioned for the new building. 

Q: Is the Curator’s Office responsible for the works of art which hang in 10 Downing Street?

A: No the Curator’s Office is only responsible for works which belong to the Houses of Parliament. This includes works of art which belong to the House of Commons and the House of Lords and which hang on the Parliamentary Estate; this does not include Downing Street or any other Government buildings. The Government Art Collection cares and is responsible for the works of art which hang in Downing Street and other Government Offices.

Q: Can I come and see all of the works of art?

A: Some areas of the Collection can be seen by taking a tour of Parliament, a public tour of the building which takes visitors through the key historic interiors of the Palace of Westminster, as well as to the Lords and Commons chambers and Westminster Hall. 

Some works of art are not on public view and the aim of this website is to allow everyone to see the whole Collection. There is an Art Tours section giving you a virtual tour of some of these works. 

Q: What do I do if I want to find out if a specific art work or a portrait of a specific person is in the Collection?

A: Try entering the name of the artist or sitter that you are searching for into the “Search box” at the top of the page. Most of our works of art can be seen here.

If you can’t find who you’re looking for, or if you have a more complicated enquiry then you can send an email to the Curator’s Office at [email protected].

The Curator’s Office receives a large number of enquiries every day. We will endeavour to answer your enquiry within 10 working days of receipt. Some requests for information may take longer. All enquiries are dealt with in the order that they are received. Please note that the Curator’s Office is not able to forward any emails on to MPs or Peers.

Q: Can I buy prints of the works of art that I have seen online?

A: Unfortunately no, at this present time the Curator’s Office is unable to offer prints of works of art in the Collection.

Q: Who do I contact if I would like to publish any of the images that I have seen online?

A: If you would like to publish any of the images that you have seen on this website then please complete the relevant application form below and send to [email protected]

Please also see the copyright notice for the Collection.