The role of the Advisory Committee on the Government Art Collection is to approve the acquisition and commission of works of art and to advise on the policy and stewardship of the Collection. The Committee meets three times a year, and members are not remunerated.
Current members of the Advisory Committee
Sir David Verey CBE (Chair)
Sir David Verey, CBE is Chair of the Friends of Leighton House Museum. He is a Trustee of the British Council and was formerly the lead Non-Executive Director at the DCMS. He was Chair of Tate Trustees from 1996 to 2003 and Chairman of the Art Fund from 2004-2014. He is also Chair of Sofina SA, a Belgian investment holding company and a former CEO and Chairman of Lazard Bank London, where he remains a Senior Adviser.
Nicholas Cullinan – Director, National Portrait Gallery
Nicholas Cullinan took up his position as the Director of the National Portrait Gallery in spring 2015, following his role as Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Prior to this, from 2007 to 2013, Nicholas was Curator of International Modern Art at Tate Modern where he co-curated an exhibition of Henri Matisse’s cut-outs with Sir Nicholas Serota in 2014. Nicholas received his BA, MA and PhD in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and in 2006–7 he held the Hilla Rebay International Fellowship at the Guggenheim Museums in Bilbao, New York and Venice.
Nicolas is an Ex Officio member of the committee.
Alex Farquharson – Director, Tate Britain
Alex Farquharson has been Director, Tate Britain since July 2015. Prior to that he was the founding Director of Nottingham Contemporary from 2007 to 2015. His background is in contemporary art, as a curator, writer and academic.
Alex is an Ex Officio member of the committee.
Gabriele Finaldi – Director, National Gallery
Gabriele Finaldi has been Director of the National Gallery since August 2015. He was previously Deputy Director for Collections and Research at the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, a position he took up in 2002. Prior to his role at the Prado, he was a curator at the National Gallery between 1992 and 2002, where he was responsible for the later Italian paintings in the collection (Caravaggio to Canaletto) and the Spanish collection (Bermejo to Goya). Finaldi studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where he completed his doctorate in 1995 on the 17th-century Spanish painter who worked in Italy, Jusepe de Ribera. He has curated exhibitions in Britain, Spain, Italy, Belgium and the US. He has written catalogues and scholarly articles on Velázquez and Zurbarán, Italian Baroque painting, religious iconography.
Gabriele is an Ex Officio member of the committee.
Penny Johnson CBE – Director, Government Art Collection, DCMS
Penny Johnson is Director of the Government Art Collection. She has extensive experience of working in museums and galleries, including roles at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Museum of London and the Stoke-on-Trent City Museum and Art Gallery. Before joining the Collection, Penny was Director of the Towner Art Gallery and Museum in Eastbourne. She has been a Trustee of the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea and the London Transport Museum; a member of the Visual Arts Advisory Group and Exhibitions Committee, Arts Council of England; and the Public Art Panel, Cambridge City Council. She is also co-chair of Women Leaders in Museums Network. She is currently a faculty member of the British School at Rome and Trustee of the Bridget Riley Art Foundation.
Penny is an Ex Officio member of the committee.
Helen Whitehouse – Acting Director, Arts, Heritage and Tourism, DCMS
Helen Whitehouse has been Acting Director of Arts, Heritage and Tourism at DCMS since November 2020. Her role includes responsibility for the Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the 15 National Museums and Galleries and the British Library, as well as the Government Art Collection. In her permanent role, Helen is Deputy Director for Museums and Cultural Property at DCMS. Helen has held a number of policy and operational roles in Government including primarily at the Ministry of Justice, Cabinet Office and the Home Office.
Susan Collins – Artist and Professor of Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London
Susan Collins is an artist working primarily with digital and lens based media employing transmission, networking and time as primary materials. She is currently Professor of Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL.
Susan is an independent member of the committee.
Melanie Keen – Director, Wellcome Collection
Melanie Keen was appointed Director of Wellcome Collection in June 2019. Prior to this she was Director of Iniva (The Institute of International Visual Arts). As Curator at Iniva from 1997 to 2003, her projects included Soft: Artist as Curator, Janette Parris’ performance Mezzo Soprano?, Farah Bajull’s Untying the Knot, Yinka Shonibare’s Diary of a Victorian Dandy and Simon Tegala’s Anabiosis. She also curated Necessary Journeys, an Arts Council England / BFI collaboration which included artists’ residencies with Jackie Kay, Keith Piper, and susan pui san lok; commissioning a live film score by Courtney Pine presented in the Tate Turbine Hall.
Formerly, Melanie was a Senior Relationship Manager at Arts Council England and an independent curator and consultant.
Melanie is an independent member of the committee
Clare Lilley – Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Clare Lilley is Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which in 2014 was named UK Art Fund Museum of the Year. Her curated and published work with artists includes Ai Weiwei, Fiona Banner, Lucio Fontana, Damien Hirst, Amar Kanwar, KAWS, Alfredo Jaar, Shirin Neshat, Giuseppe Penone, Sean Scully, Yinka Shonibare CBE, David Smith, James Turrell and Bill Viola. Since 2012 Clare has curated Frieze Sculpture in London’s Regent’s Park.
Clare is an independent member of the committee.
Ben Luke – Critic and Writer on the Visual Arts
Ben Luke is the review editor and podcast host at The Art Newspaper and an art critic at the Evening Standard. He has contributed to numerous art magazines and written catalogue essays for institutions including the Royal Academy and the Whitechapel Gallery. Before becoming a critic he worked for many years in the Tate press office.
Ben is an independent member of the committee.
Mary Ann Prior – Art Curator and Advisor
Mary Ann Prior is an Art Curator, Director and Advisor (Private and Corporate) with wide experience of event, exhibition and collection creation and management. She is currently Art Adviser/Curator for Bank of America (EMEA); and an independent researcher. Former roles include Curator to the Wilson Centre for Photography in London; Executive Producer of Eon Productions; Associate Curator of Photographs at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles; Art Advisor/Curator to Pfizer Inc, Bank of America and Camellia PLC. From 2009, she was Executive Director of Oklahoma Contemporary in the US, and its satellite gallery, Marfa Contemporary; as well as Director of Collections at Vulcan Inc, Seattle, a private company owned by the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. At Vulcan, Mary Ann oversaw acquisitions and led high-profile art initiatives including the launch of the inaugural Seattle Art Fair in 2015; and a major touring exhibition ‘Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection’.
Mary Ann is an independent member of the committee.