As the ARTIST ROOMS initiative turns five, Culture Secretary Maria Miller hosted a celebration of the programme that is sending major works of modern and contemporary art around the UK

  • Damien Hirst, 'Away from the Flock' 1994
    Damien Hirst
    Away from the Flock 1994
    Lamb in formaldehyde solution, steel and glass vitrine
    displayed: 980 x 1540 x 525 mm
    Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008© Damien Hirst

A reception was held in Downing Street last night to mark the fifth birthday of the ARTIST ROOMS programme, which has introduced almost nine million new visitors to cultural venues across the UK.

Maria Miller, the Secretary of State for Culture, hosted the celebration, attended by Anthony D’Offay, the art dealer who established the collection of 1500 works that comprises the touring ARTIST ROOMS collection.

With works by the likes of Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois and Damien Hirst among the collection, acquired jointly by Tate and The National Galleries of Scotland jointly in 2008, the programme aims to bring significant twentieth century and contemporary works to audiences around the UK by partnering with regional museums and galleries. Exhibitions and displays are bespoke for each venue, with particular emphasis on engaging young people in contemporary art.

Over 29 million people have visited the collection since it launched, with many partner galleries reporting significant uplifts in attendance – as high as 100% in the case of Kendal’s Abbott Hall, which hosted a Richard Long exhibition in 2011.

Maria Miller said of the initiative: ‘Thanks to Anthony d’Offay’s generosity, and the hard work and imagination of all those involved in the project, really high quality art has been made available for millions to enjoy up and down the UK. Long may it continue.’

Anthony d’Offay said: ‘Never in my wildest dreams did I envisage the success that ARTIST ROOMS has become. It is testimony to the enthusiasm of all of the communities involved across the UK and to the support of the many artists and others whose ambition is to inspire the next generation of creative young people.’

Past events have seen the collection travel to locations including Stromness, Belfast, Margate, Eastbourne, Dumfries and Llandudno, with displays set to go to the Isle of Wight, Shetland and North Uist, among others, in the coming year.