Art owned by The National Archives

FOI request reference: F0042409
Publication date: June 2015


Successful/Information not held


Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to obtain information regarding any art owned by your organisation.

  1. What is the total number of works of art owned by your organisation?
  1. What is the total insurance value of these works of art?
  1. How many of the works of art that you own are on public display?
  1. For the five most valuable items, where the data is readily available:
  1. a) If purchased by the organisation, what was its purchase price, year of purchase and reason for purchase
  2. b) What is its current value?

Please make it clear if you are responding on behalf of more than one organisation.

My preferred format to receive this information is electronically, but if that is not possible I will gladly accept letters at the address below.

I would be grateful if you would acknowledge receipt of this request as soon as possible.


Dear [redacted]

Thank you for your enquiry of 9th June.

Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request.

We are pleased to be able to provide some of this information to you. Please see below for answers to your questions, listed numerically.

  1. The National Archives holds no works of art which are considered as such. As an archive we hold a large amount of visual material, such as Ministry of Information posters, but these are not treated as artwork or as a distinct category from other records we hold. You can search for these items using our Discovery catalogue: You can also view our ‘Exhibitions’ pages for a summary of the types of visual material we hold: The entrance foyer to The National Archives building incorporates a coloured glass display and a carved slate floor inlay, which are by Ann Smythe, a local artist. These were not purchased by The National Archives but were commissioned by the Property Services Agency under the advice of the Public Art Development Trust, and are an integral part of the building.
  2. As we do not consider ourselves as owners of artwork there is no insurance value.
  3. All visual material is orderable via our Discovery catalogue, and decorative features of the building are viewable on entering the premises.
  4. No art has been purchased by The National Archives. Decorative features in the foyer were commissioned by the Property Services Agency and have no estimated re-sale value.

I can also confirm that both the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives (ACNRA), and the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI), to whom requests were both submitted, hold no artwork. We are therefore unable to provide answers to the additional questions for these bodies.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request or the decision which has been reached, you have the right to ask for an internal review.  Internal review requests must be submitted within two months of the date of this response and should be addressed to:

Quality Manager
Public Services Development Unit
The National Archives

Please mark your complaint clearly.  You have the right to ask the Information Commissioner (ICO) to investigate any aspect of your complaint.  However, please note that the ICO is likely to expect internal complaints procedures to have been exhausted before beginning his investigation.

Yours sincerely,

FOI Assessor
Freedom of Information Centre
Transfer & Access Department
The National Archives