Press Release

ARTIST ROOMS celebrates the first five years and 29 million visitors

ARTIST ROOMS, acquired for the nation by Tate and The National Galleries of Scotland, celebrates the first five years and 29 million visitors

A gigantic table and four chairs

A special reception was held on 25 February in Downing Street to mark the first five years of ARTIST ROOMS. The event was hosted by Secretary of State for Culture, Maria Miller and attended by Anthony d’Offay who established the ARTIST ROOMS collection for the nation. Young people involved in ARTIST ROOMS throughout the United Kingdom were brought together to mark the occasion.

Twenty-nine million people have visited ARTIST ROOMS exhibitions to date at 66 venues across the UK. Thirty-one per cent of these visitors to displays outside Edinburgh and London were new to these venues. Inspiring people in rural and urban communities alike, including millions of young people and others who might not ordinarily have visited an art gallery, the collection has given and continues to give people access to significant works of twentieth century and contemporary art. The exhibitions and displays are tailor-made in collaboration with partners across the UK.

The ARTIST ROOMS collection now comprises over 1,500 works and is still growing. Since it was established, it has increased by around 400 works and there are now 38 artists in the collection, adding six to the original 32.

ARTIST ROOMS was acquired for the nation by Tate and The National Galleries of Scotland through the d’Offay Donation in 2008 with additional support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and Scottish and British Governments. The touring programme is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and through the continued support of the Art Fund and, in Scotland, support from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

Secretary for State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller said:

ARTIST ROOMS has been a spectacular success since it was established just five years ago. 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.

Highlights and key landmarks of ARTIST ROOMS since 2009

  • Over 29 million people across the UK have visited ARTIST ROOMS to date
  • Exhibitions and displays have been shown in 66 museums and galleries
  • By the end of 2014, 132 displays and exhibitions will have opened 
  • The total number of artists now included in the ARTIST ROOMS collection is 38, six having been added since the project began: Louise Bourgeois, Martin Creed, Dan Flavin, Douglas Gordon, Don McCullin and August Sander
  • Over 2,100 loans of art works have been made
  • 25% of ARTIST ROOMS visitors are aged between 13 and 25 years – of these 37% of these had not previous heard of the exhibited artist and 34% had never visited the venue
  • ARTIST ROOMS have been seen across the UK, at locations including Stromness, Belfast, Margate, Eastbourne, Dumfries and Llandudno. Among the locations this year with be the Isle of Wight, Shetland and North Uist
  • The first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) dedicated to a single artist, the ARTIST ROOMS Warhol MOOC, has been launched with the University of Edinburgh. It is also the first such course to be developed in a museum/university partnership in the UK, and the course will begin in April 2014.

To mark the fifth anniversary celebration a dedicated website – – is being launched today by the Artist Rooms Foundation in collaboration with Tate and National Galleries Scotland, with the support of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, New York.

ARTIST ROOMS Associate venues have reported a positive impact on visitor numbers:

  • Andy Warhol at Graves Gallery in Sheffield attracted 68% more visitors compared to the same period in the previous year
  • Abbott Hall in Kendal reported twice as many visitors as in the previous year to their 2011 Richard Long exhibition
  • In 2013 Robert Mapplethorpe in Galashiels attracted 50% more visitors in the first month of display than for the same period in the previous year
  • The New Art Gallery Walsall saw 235,938 people visit the Damien Hirst exhibition, an 18% increase in visitor figures on the previous year

In 2011, the ARTIST ROOMS Research Partnership was established between Tate and National Galleries of Scotland with the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. It aims to deliver a programme of multi-disciplinary research into the ARTIST ROOMS collection, its use as a shared national resource, and examine how audiences, particularly young people, engage with it.

See also


An inspirational collection of international contemporary art acquired for the nation by National Galleries of Scotland and Tate through the ...

Editor notes


ARTIST ROOMS exhibitions and displays are from the collection assembled by Anthony d’Offay. ARTIST ROOMS is owned jointly by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland and was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and the Scottish and British Governments. Since the original acquisition, additional works have been acquired with assistance of the ARTIST ROOMS Endowment, supported by The Henry Moore Foundation and Tate Members. ARTIST ROOMS On Tour has been devised to enable this collection to reach and inspire new audiences across the country, particularly young people.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

The Art Fund

The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art, helping museums to buy and show great art for everyone. Over the past 5 years we’ve given over £26m to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections and placed hundreds of gifts and bequests, from ancient sculpture and treasure hoards to Old Master paintings and contemporary commissions. We awarded £1 million towards the original acquisition of the ARTIST ROOMS collection and have been instrumental in ARTIST ROOMS on Tour since its inception in 2009. We are independently funded, the majority of our income coming from over 100,000 members who, through the National Art Pass, enjoy free entry to over 220 museums, galleries and historic houses across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions.

Find out more about the Art Fund and the National Art Pass
Please contact Madeline Adeane, the Press Relations Manager
Call 020 7225 4804

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the national organisation that funds and supports the development of Scotland’s arts, screen and creative industries. Creative Scotland has four objectives: to develop and sustain a thriving environment for the arts, screen and creative industries; to support excellence in artistic and creative practice; to improve access to and participation in, arts and creative activity; and to deliver our services efficiently and effectively. In 2013/14 we will distribute over £100m in funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information on Creative Scotland Follow us: @creativescots and