About UCL Art Museum
UCL Art Museum is situated in a traditional Print Room at the heart of UCL, its collections publicly accessible through temporary exhibitions and displays across the university campus. Under UCL’s dome in the library is The Flaxman Gallery, the pinnacle of a vast collection of art works by John Flaxman (1755-1826), showcasing the artist’s plaster models in a unique architectural setting.
UCL Art Museum's collections contain over 10,000 objects including paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture dating from 1490 to the present day. Works on paper are housed in a traditional Print Room setting in the museum, and paintings and sculpture are displayed in public rooms around college. The collection was founded in 1847 with a gift of the sculpture models and drawings of the Neo-classical artist John Flaxman.
Extensive gifts of prints and drawings were also presented to UCL, including the Grote bequest of 1872. This included an important group of 16th-century German works and a selection of Renaissance and Baroque prints and drawings mainly from Northern Europe. The Vaughan Bequest of 1900 included drawings by Turner and De Wint, Rembrandt etchings, and early proofs and states of Turner's Liber Studiorum and Constable's English Landscape Scenery. The Sherborn Bequest of 1937 added many rare and important prints to the collection including an early edition of Dürer's Apocalypse woodcuts and early states and proofs from Van Dyck's Iconographia.
The collection also holds the collection of prize-winning student work from the Slade School of Art dating from 1890 to the present day. The prize collection contains work by many important 20th-century British artists who studied at the Slade including Stanley Spencer, Augustus John, Edward Wadsworth and Paula Rego. These prize-winning student works were augmented by gifts of work from Slade staff and students including Henry Tonks and David Bomberg. The collection has also been extended by the recent purchase of works by Gwen John, Stanley Spencer and other Slade students.
International in scope, many art works relate to the history of teaching art in Britain and show stages in the creative process through the history of bequests and donations entering into the Art Museum's holdings. Outstanding examples include: Van Dyck’s portraits of people of influence in his Iconographia, Turner’s annotated landscape prints, torn up sketches by Augustus John saved by his peers, artists’ anatomy albums and drawings by artists such as John Flaxman, Henry Tonks and William Coldstream used for instruction.
The experimental spirit is also present in the collection via examples of early printmaking techniques as used by Dürer, studio model books employed in Renaissance artists’ workshops, Neo-classical plaster modelling and pointing machines, the study of the human figure in the life room, Japanese colour woodblocks, screenprinting popular in the 1960s, early computer art of the 1970s and contemporary digital media.
Teaching and public programme
As a university art museum, interdisciplinary teaching and research are key, with the research process opened up through exhibitions and public programming curated by the Art Museum team and UCL academics.
Recent collaborative exhibitions have focused on mapping the presence of black artists and models in Bloomsbury during the interwar period, the relation between word and image inspired by Albrecht Dürer’s Apocalypse series, explorations of London’s urban landscapes over time, and fame and celebrity interrogated through representations of Jean Jacques Rousseau.