About us
Acquisitions policy

The National Gallery of Australia holds collections that are still newly formed. When the building opened in Canberra in 1982 there had been only ten years of serious collecting in preparation for the opening.

A new collection cannot even hope to eventually cover most areas and periods of world art, as do many long-established overseas national museums of art. Furthermore, except in Australian art, the National Gallery of Australia cannot, and should not, compete in all the same collecting areas as Australia’s state art museums, all founded well over a hundred years ago.

25 years on from our opening, this revised collecting policy takes account of substantially increased prices for late nineteenth- and twentieth century international art. Additions to this major area of the collection will necessarily be limited.

However, this 2006 document does not differ greatly from past statements of policy. The National Gallery of Australia’s founding document is the 1966 ‘Lindsay Report’ from the National Art Gallery Committee of Inquiry commissioned by Prime Minister Menzies. That report, mindful of other Australian state collections, placed its greatest emphasis on:

  • modern art worldwide
  • the whole of Australian art
  • works of art representing the high cultural achievement of Australia’s neighbours in southern and eastern Asia and the Pacific Islands.