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The collection

Artbank helps tell the story of Australian art. Established in 1980 with an initial 600 work endowment from the National Collection (now the NGA) and a mandate to collect contemporary Australian art in support of the organisation’s core objectives, the Artbank collection is unique in both its breadth and depth – being more inclusive of Australian artistic practices. Nearly four decades of actively acquiring artwork has resulted in a collection that is democratic both in terms of access and the artists/artworks it holds; as well as being more representative of Australian stories/life than any other institutional collection.

Artbank is one of the largest collections of contemporary Australian art in the world and includes some of the best examples of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artwork produced over the past four decades. With 11,000 artworks across media and reflecting the cultural and gender diversity or artists practising around Australia, Artbank is one of the most representative of all the state and federal collections held on behalf of the Australian public. Artbank also boasts the fastest growing collection of digital/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 in turn reinvested into meeting the operating costs of Artbank which, includes the acquisition of numerous works of contemporary Australian art each year. All artworks are acquired on the primary market (through commercial galleries, art centres, prizes, non-commercial exhibitions, commissions etc. 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, Artbank has come to be recognised for the important role it plays as one of the first institutions to acquire works by early career practitioners, offering support and validation when it can be needed most. This is often followed up by future acquisitions throughout an artist’s career. All new acquisitions for the collection are assessed against a set criteria in order to maintain a high quality and representative standard. They are available for download here.

Artbank is also registered to accept donations under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, and many major works from artists, private collectors and artists’ estates have been generously gifted to the collection. If you have a work you would like to donate to Artbank, please email us. If you would like to know more about the CGP, click on the link below.