Swindon Museum holds one of the most important public collections of modern British art in the country.
It features impressive and thought-provoking works by some of Britain’s most influential modern and contemporary artists, including Lucian Freud, David Bomberg, Gwen John, Alfred Wallis and LS Lowry. Swindon’s collection is significant for the range and quality of its works of art, many of which have been loaned to major exhibitions in Britain and abroad. Alongside paintings and drawings, the collection contains sculpture by Stephen Tomlin and Michael Craig Martin, editioned prints by Ian Hamilton Finlay and Cecil Collins, and photography by Steven Pippin.
The collection was established in the 1940s with the donation of 21 works by local businessman HJP Bomford, which included two drawings by Henry Moore, paintings by Graham Sutherland and Paul Nash, and an important abstract work by Ben Nicholson. Following this generous gift, Swindon was advised on acquisitions for almost forty years by the curator Richard Morphet. It has always collected twentieth and, more recently, twenty first-century artists who have lived and worked in Britain for a substantial part of their career.
Over the last seventy years, Swindon has continued to collect the best of British art, working closely with the Contemporary Art Society, Art Fund and other supporters. It has acquired examples of almost every major movement in British art, from traditional portraits by Spencer Gore and Mark Gertler, St Ives seascapes by Alfred Wallis and Christopher Wood, landscape paintings by Richard Nevinson and John Piper and the work of the Bloomsbury Group by Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry. British abstraction is represented by Roger Hilton and Terry Frost, and Pop Art by Richard Hamilton and Allen Jones. Contemporary artists in the collection include Maggi Hambling, Richard Long and Gillian Ayres.
Recent acquisitions include paintings by William Gear and Walter Sickert, prints by Joe Tilson and Howard Hodgkin, and drawings by Duncan Grant and RB Kitaj.
The collections are displayed at the museum and art gallery through a changing series of free and engaging themed exhibitions. Since 2014, more than 60% of the collection has been displayed in Swindon. Please note that not all of the collection can be displayed at one time due to the size of the gallery, and works of art may be on loan to other public galleries. Please go to the Exhibitions page for information on current and upcoming exhibitions.