Behind the marble halls and beside the business of lawmaking you will find one of most the country’s most significant—but perhaps lesser-known—art collections.
Come and explore a story that’s almost as old as the Parliament itself, and as new as the latest video installation. Our collection is diverse and constantly evolving.
The common thread? Each work, whether it’s a portrait of a Prime Minister, a monumental tapestry, a Dreaming story or Tom Roberts’ Big Picture, will tell you a little about what it means to be Australian.
What you’ll find here
At Parliament House, you can discover works ranging from Arthur Boyd’s monumental Great Hall Tapestry to a 1297 Magna Carta.
You can also see portraits of Prime Ministers and documents that have changed a nation.
We have an exciting program of temporary exhibitions, which includes works from the permanent collection—with over 6,500 works spanning all genres of Australian art, there’s always something new on show.
Come and reflect, react and interact, be provoked or be inspired—it’s all free!
There are four main collections at Parliament House:
The Historic Memorials Collection, which dates from 1911 and includes over 200 portraits of Governors-General, Prime Ministers, Presidents of the Senate, Speakers of the House of Representatives, and other distinguished Australians. You can see selected portraits from this collection on display in first floor Members’ Hall and in the Main Committee Room Foyer.
The Architectural Commissions, which are significant works that were created especially for Parliament House at the time it was being built. Most of these works are integral to the public spaces of Parliament House.
The Gifts Collection of artworks, antiques, and antiquities that have been presented to the Australian Parliament by other nations, Australian states and territories, and national organisations. Precious objects from this collection that you can see on display include the Queen Victoria Writing Desk and the white marble Chinese lions.
The Rotational Collection of contemporary and Indigenous artworks, selected to reflect aspects of contemporary Australian identity and culture. These works are on display throughout the general circulation areas of Parliament House and in Senators’ and Members’ offices.
To see some of the works that hang in the corridors of power, take a look at our online gallery.
DPS has adopted the Charter of Principles for Publicly Funded Collecting Institutions (the Charter) in its management of the Parliament House Art Collection. The Charter provides a framework that promotes professional best practice in the acquisition and management of artworks by Indigenous artists across the nation. The Parliament House Art Collection, as a significant public collection of Australian art, is committed to the application of best practice policies and procedures in all aspects of our dealings with Indigenous artists and their works of art.
Parliament House has joined many of the other leading cultural custodians to celebrate the priceless, the unique, the quirky and the remarkable items that make up Australia’s national collection (external link, new window).
Each week, one of these treasures is chosen from the national collection so its story can be told in the pages of The Saturday Paper or The Monthly. It might be the face of an Indigenous leader from the National Portrait Gallery. A convict love token from the National Museum of Australia. A ‘forest of souls’ from the National Gallery of Australia. A tribute to Dorothea Mackellar’s Wide Brown Land perched among the trees of the National Arboretum. A brooch made for a heart-broken mother, from the Australian War Memorial. Or our own Great Hall Tapestry.
This project celebrates the Australia story through the treasures its custodians have chosen to preserve.