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Managing and updating the Parliamentary Art Collection

30 September 2020

The Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art is committed to managing, reviewing and updating the Parliamentary Art Collection. In 2020, the Committee agreed to consider a broader approach to management of the Collection, building on commitments made following publication of the ‘Good Parliament’ report in 2016, specifically how it can make the Collection more inclusive and accessible.


To better understand, explain and contextualise the Collection to as many people as possible, the Committee has published a list of the works of art within it, which relate to the transatlantic slave trade. This includes works depicting both people who had financial or family interests in the transatlantic slave trade and slavery, as well as artwork featuring abolitionists. It is now updated biannually. 

Alongside this body of work, data and resources on the representation of ethnic diversity in the Parliamentary Art Collection has also been gathered. This has been made publicly available as well.

These documents help to ensure accuracy within Parliament’s collections. Inclusion should not be interpreted as the Committee taking a position on the subjects or artworks in question. References to specific works or individuals is based solely on academic research, which is detailed on each paper. These are not comprehensive documents, but constantly evolving   - and feedback on the content is always welcome.

The Parliamentary Art Collection and links to the transatlantic slave trade

Representation of ethnic diversity in the Parliamentary Art Collection


Parliament's Heritage Collections hold over 26,000 objects, ranging from the medieval period to the 21st century, with over 10,000 in the Parliament Art Collection alone. These valuable objects help us to understand the long and complex history of parliamentary democracy in the United Kingdom.

Given the significance of these works, both Parliament itself, and the Committee, are continually exploring ways in which management of and engagement with its Collections can be developed. This includes how items in Parliament’s Collections can be explained and engaged with, to make them as accessible and engaging as possible. This can range from physical labels and online information to other research and educational materials.

Reviews of interpretation material for the Parliamentary Art Collection are taking place constantly, and Parliament is actively engaging with Members, staff, visitors and the wider public to ensure a diverse range of views are heard throughout this ongoing process. Feedback is welcomed, and the Committee will continue to publish updates on this work through their meeting minutes and decisions, which are published on the Committee’s website.

Management of Parliament’s Collections

Decision-making powers relating to Parliament’s Collections remain with the relevant Committees in both Houses, particularly in terms of their strategic development. In the House of Commons, this Committee is the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art.

Day-to-day care and management of the Collection is carried out by the bicameral Heritage Collections Team, who are made up of heritage professionals with a range of expertise and specialisms. The team provide updates to the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art at every Committee meeting, minutes of which are published on the Committee’s website.

A Collections Advisory Group, formed of Members from both Houses and a variety of external specialists from collections, engagement and academic disciplines, has been in place since 2022. The group provides advice to staff and Members on matters relating to access and inclusion, sharing relevant expertise and knowledge to broaden reach and engagement. It meets approximately every quarter, and matters discussed in the Collections Advisory Group form part of the updates provided to Committees in both Houses.

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