Artbank is part of the Australian Government Office for the Arts, in the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. For 40 years Artbank has supported Australia’s contemporary art sector.
Established in 1980 by the Australian Government, Artbank’s two core objectives are to provide direct support to Australian contemporary artists through the acquisition of their work and to promote the value of Australian contemporary art to the broader public.
The Artbank collection was founded with an endowment of 600 artworks from the National Collection (now the National Gallery of Australia) and has since grown to include more than 10,000 works spanning media including painting, sculpture, video and photography. Through leasing works to individuals, companies and governments (at all levels), Artbank lives up to its policy principle of promoting broad access to Australian contemporary art. Through our leasing of artworks to Australian embassies and other overseas posts, we provide access to Australian contemporary art in approximately 70 countries across the globe.
With 50% of the collection out on loan at any one time, we have built our client base to a position of financial sustainability, and have been a largely self-funding government program for over 20 years.
Artbank has similarities with other collecting institutions in how we undertake aspects of the business, but we are very different in both why we collect artwork and how we promote Australian art to stakeholders, clients and the public.
For the broader community, we make Australian contemporary art accessible in ways other collecting institutions cannot. With Artbank artworks in workplaces and other public and private places around Australia and the world, we enable the broader community to access some of the best examples of Australian contemporary art. This allows a different, and more everyday type of engagement with artworks than a gallery or museum exhibition offers. In displaying works in offices, government buildings and homes, we present artworks to many who would never go to a public or private gallery, breaking down traditional barriers to this art form.
Artbank helps tell the story of contemporary Australian art. With a mandate to collect contemporary Australian art in support of our core objectives, we are now one of the largest collections of contemporary Australian art in the world and include some of the best examples of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artwork produced over the past four decades. With more than 10,000 artworks across media and reflecting the cultural and gender diversity of artists practising around Australia, we are one of the most representative of all the state and federal collections held on behalf of the Australian public. We also boast the fastest growing collection of digital and media-based artwork in the country.
The Artbank collection is able to grow each year through the support of our clients – Australian local, state and federal governments, businesses and individuals who engage with the art leasing program.
The funds generated through the leasing of art are reinvested into meeting the operating costs of Artbank, including the acquisition of numerous works of contemporary Australian art each year. Artworks are predominantly acquired on the primary market from commercial galleries, art centres, prizes, non-commercial exhibitions, commissions and directly from artists, ensuring the funds go towards supporting the livelihood of living, professional artists.
As a long-term supporter of Australian visual artists, we have come to be recognised for the important role we play – often we are the first public institution to acquire works by emerging artists, offering support and validation when it is needed most. All new acquisitions for the collection are assessed against our Collection Plan and acquisition policy to maintain a high quality and representative standard.
We are also registered to accept donations under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. Artists, private collectors and artists’ estates have generously gifted to the collection over the years. If you have a work you would like to donate to Artbank, please contact us. If you would like to know more about the Cultural Gifts Program, click on the link below.
Artbank is registered to accept donations under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. Artists, private collectors and artists’ estates have generously given works to the collection over the years. For works to be accepted under the Cultural Gifts Program, Artbank will assess them for suitability against our Collection Plan. If you would like to know more about the Cultural Gifts Program, select the Read More button. If you have a work you would like to donate to Artbank, please contact us.