About us

The University of Reading’s is home to a rich and eclectic art collection that, at present, comprises around 1000 works of painting, sculpture and graphic art, including many pieces of national and international significance. This is in addition to numerous artworks held across the University’s Special and Teaching Collections and within University museums.

Work is currently underway to manage and develop the Art Collection. Our aim is to ensure these collections become a significant resource that provide access to and promote the place of art across the University and beyond. Follow our blog to keep up with our projects, find out about more about the collection, and discover ways to get involved!

Collection overview

As is common to many university art collections, the University of Reading’s approach to collecting artworks has not historically been guided by a formal programme. The resulting collections are an idiosyncratic mix,  made up of of distinct parts which reflect the history of the University and are often connected to the activities of particular departments.

The collections contain a variety of work commissioned, bought and given to the University, including that of past students and professors and works by a variety of celebrated 20th century artists. Artists represented include Max Weber (1881- 1961), Alan Lowndes (1921-1978), John Randall Bratby (1928-1992) and Leon Kossoff (b. 1926). The Historic Picture Loan Scheme of paintings and works on paper collected by the Fine Art Department for loan to university patrons includes important examples, in particular, of printmaking practice by artists such as Stanley Anderson (1884-1966), Charles Tunnicliffe (1901-1979), and Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003). The Betts Collection and Archive, collected by the University’s first Professor of Fine Art, J. Anthony Betts (1897-1980), comprises an important group of master drawings by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Walter Sickert (1860-1942) and Frederick Spencer Gore (1878-1914). The Minnie Jane Hardman (1862-1952) Collection contains approximately 125 drawings and watercolours, many documenting the artist’s experience and practice as a female student in the Royal Academy Schools during the late Victorian era.

Among other University collections, the Museum of English Rural Life holds an extensive collection of paintings, prints, photographs, sculpture, ceramics and textiles, including an important collection of 18th and 19th century livestock portraiture, Innumerable artistic works appear among the expansive holdings in the University’s Special Collections, including over 700 boxes of original artwork used to illustrate Ladybird children’s books. The collections of the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication also comprise significant artworks, including the Paul Peter Piech (1920-1996) poster collection and the Allen W. Seaby (1867-1953) Collection.