Collection & Archive

The Permanent Collection

The RBSA houses a Permanent Collection of over 850 works of art which include paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery. These objects are kept in secure and temperature / humidity recorded conditions and here the RBSA  has to follow rigorous procedures to maintain it’s Accredited Museum status.

The Collection aims to gather and conserve objects significant to the history of the RBSA and to Birmingham’s wider artistic heritage. Most works in the Collection have been produced by past Members and Associates of the Society. Notable artists represented are David Cox, Aubrey Beardsley, Joseph Southall, and Bernard Fleetwood-Walker.

The RBSA runs a collections management software system that allows details and images of every object in the Collection to be shown on screen. This is of great benefit to the archive team, to outside researchers and to heritage exhibition curators as they can quickly review a piece of work without laboriously going through the physical process of removing a work from the shelves to inspect it.

There is an ongoing acquisitions programme and the Collection continues to grow each year. Recent acquisitions include works by two of the RBSA’s nineteenth century founders; a watercolour by Joseph Barber and a drawing by Samuel Lines Senior, and three oil paintings by the mid-twentieth century artist Harry Turner RBSA RBA ROI. The Collection’s expansion is further aided by the introduction of a donation policy for all newly elected Members. All artists who are successful in being elected to full Member status are required to submit a diploma piece to the Society’s Collection.

If you would like to view recent research about artists involved with the RBSA throughout its history, please see the PDFs available on the 'Projects' and 'About Us' pages. If you would like to make an enquiry, please see the 'Make an Archive Enquiry' section of the website.

The Archive

The RBSA’s Archive comprises a number of important resources. These include the Society’s original exhibition catalogues and minute books dating back to the 1820s, as well as a collection of letters written by former Members and exhibitors at the Society. These include letters written by some of the Society’s most prestigious contacts such as Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Sir John Everett Millais and John Brett. Other resources include curatorial files, photograph albums from the nineteenth century, and several books of press cuttings.