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Our collection

The Gallery, like most state or national art museums around the world, ‘owns’ works of art. In our case, we’re a state government institution so the actual owners are the people of NSW and we are the custodians.

We have the single most encyclopaedic collection of art in Australia, made up of roughly 30,000 works. It’s hard to give an exact number because we’re constantly adding to it and some works (eg sketchbooks) have many parts, each of which could be seen as an artwork.

We organise this large collection into smaller collection areas: Australian art, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Asian art, Western art, contemporary art and photography.

Only 5% of our collection is on display at the Gallery at any one time, either in our permanent galleries or temporary exhibitions.

There are various reasons:

  • we don’t have enough space to display everything simultaneously
  • we loan works to other museums for exhibitions
  • works undergo conservation treatment or are put into storage to preserve them

Most of our artworks are stored in an off-site storage facility.

The entire collection is online and you can check what is on display.