The Parliamentary Art Collection includes over 8,000 works of art, most of which are on display in the Palace of Westminster and other parliamentary buildings. The Collection’s paintings, sculptures and other artworks illustrate the history of Parliament and British politics over the centuries.
The earliest works in the Collection are fourteenth-century gothic statues of kings in Westminster Hall. Images of leading parliamentarians form a key part of the Collection, along with images of monarchs and group portraits, which record historic events in the two Chambers.
The evolution of the topography of the Palace through the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries makes up another strong theme in the Collection. The dramatic fire of 1834, the construction of the new Palace of Westminster and more recent buildings, like Portcullis House, also feature strongly.
The contemporary collection has been enriched by promoting the work of living artists from across the different regions of the United Kingdom through the acquisition of pieces from around the country.
The relevance of the Collection to the history and work of the Palace makes it very popular with many who work in Parliament. This interest is being built on for the current campaign to tag Parliament’s pictures. Staff in particular are being encouraged to become Taggers, and it is hoped we can build a bit of friendly rivalry between departments to see who achieves the most pictures tagged. Though carried out in their own time, we are finding that not only are our Parliamentary Taggers enjoying this and becoming even more engaged with the paintings they see everyday, but that they are encouraging family and friends.
Therese Crawley & Melanie Unwin, Curator’s Office, Parliamentary Art Collection