UCL Art Museum
UCL Art Museum has its origins as a teaching and research collection tied to the history of the UCL Slade School of Fine Art.
The collections therefore present a unique archive of art education. As the Slade was the first school to admit women into the life room, a large number of works by women artists entered into this public collection, through the Slade prize system, as early as the 1890s. The museum holds examples of early works by pioneering artists such as Gwen John, Dora Carrington, Winifred Knights, Ithel Colquhoun, Diana Cumming, Paula Rego, and Anna Maria Pacheco.
International in scope, many art works relate to the history of teaching art in Britain and show stages in the creative process. 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, as well as 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.
As a university art museum, interdisciplinary teaching and research are key, with the research process opened up through exhibitions and public programming curated by 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.
The 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 Flaxman, showcasing the artist’s plaster models in a unique architectural setting.