ANU Art Collection


Sidney Nolan, Riverbend 1964-65, oil on board, nine panels. The Australian National University Collection

Explore Riverbend

Art History & Curatorship Masters student Rosie Goldfeder takes us on a journey of discovery of Sidney Nolan’s famous painting Riverbend. The painting is on permanent display at the ANU Drill Hall Gallery.

About the Australian National University Collection

The Australian National University Collection was established in 1949. The Collection promotes a broader understanding of visual culture with special reference to its educational and outreach priorities. It strives for excellence by building and maintaining a collection that reflects important developments in Australian art. The Collection comprises more than 2400 paintings, sculptures, drawings, limited edition prints, ceramic and glass objects by significant artists. These are displayed throughout the campus for the enjoyment of students, staff and visitors to the University. The main objectives of the Art Collection are to:

  • develop a major public art collection for the purpose of demonstrating the University’s continuing commitment to the study, patronage and advancement of the visual arts.
  • foster a general awareness and understanding of the visual arts among the University community and members of the general public through education and other outreach activities.
  • acquire works of art of demonstrable excellence and significance within the perceived developments of contemporary Australian art.
  • enable research on the visual arts and support the teaching programs of the University.
  • acquire works of art suitable for the purpose of enhancing the public areas, both buildings and grounds, of the University.

Gifts to the Art Collection

Much of the growth of the Collection in recent years has been due to the great generosity of people wishing to gift artworks to the University. Gifts to the Collection are eligible for the tax incentives provided by the¬†Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

The ANU Art Collection Acquisitions Advisory Committee determines the acceptability of gifts to the Collection according to the acquisitions policy. Interested parties are encouraged to contact the Curator of the Collection.

Contact the Collection

If you have any requests regarding the ANU Art Collection please contact the Curator of the Collection. If you need to have an art work moved to a new location or would like to report on any problems with the siting of an art work, the Curator will be delighted to hear from you. Subject to availability, you can request art works for your offices, seminar rooms, foyers and other building spaces. Preference is given to the more public spaces and those spaces occupied by more senior staff. Please note that no staff members other than Drill Hall Gallery and Art Collection staff are to change the locations of art works.

Guidelines for staff: Protecting the Collection

ANU Art Collection
Drill Hall Gallery, building 29
Australian National University Canberra 2601 Australia

T: +61 2 6125 5832

Collection management

The ANU Art Collection represents an important cultural asset for the University and its community. The University provides suitable care and protection for it by:

  • Ensuring the integrity and security of the objects in the collection by exhibiting, storing and¬†conserving them in a professional manner.
  • Employing registration procedures and maintaining appropriate records, including cataloguing and continued research to museum standards.
  • Ensuring that works are lent only to institutions which can provide satisfactory handling, security and environmental control and which meet all other conditions determined by the ANU, and enter into legally binding contractual loan agreements that indicate compliance.

Acquisition policy

The ANU Art Collection Acquisitions Advisory Committee, in conjunction with the Collection Curator, reviews all proposed acquisitions under the following guidelines and recommends proposed acquisitions to the Drill Hall Gallery and Art Collection Advisory Committee.

Guidelines for acquisitions

  • To¬†acquire works of art by significant contemporary Australian artists.
  • To acquire recent works of significant contemporary Australian artists who are already represented in the Collection with earlier works and of those artists who have specific links with the ANU.
  • To ensure that outdoor sculpture is acquired for campus grounds at least every three years and that the commissioning of sculptures for specific sites is included.
  • To give special consideration to the acquisition of at least one work by an emerging Australian artist every year.
  • To ensure that the Collection demonstrates a commitment to fair representation of Australian women artists.
  • At the Committee’s discretion, to ensure that a particular opportunity to acquire an exceptional work of art is acted upon.
  • Where the purchase of a major work by a major artist is not possible because of the cost, to apply to the artist or his/her trustees for extended loan of the work suitable for showing in the context of the Collection.
  • Gifts to the Collection are encouraged with a view to enhancing the general congruence of the Collection. The Collections Officer, in consultation with the Acquisitions Advisory Committee, with the approval of the Drill Hall Gallery and ANU Art Collection Advisory Committee, and following the acquisition guidelines for purchases, accepts or refuses such offers of gifts as they occur.

Related information


Updated:  16 November 2020/ Responsible Officer:  DHG Director/ Page Contact:  Drill Hall Gallery