Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Exterior detail, Spirit of Liverpool. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-4.0. Author: Rodhullandemu.

British Art Collections – Day 3 Walker Art Gallery

  • Tuesday 4 July 2023
  • Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD
  • Lecturer: Sarah Burles

During the summer of 2023 we are offering a series of linked but separate study days on British Art Collections. Each day can be booked individually. We also intend to include some small group visits to individual galleries. These will be organised separately and subject to demand.

This series will examine the history of some of the UK’s greatest art institutions: what or who inspired their foundation, where their collections came from and how their buildings were designed. What audiences did the founders imagine and what ideas were they trying to impart – and how have those audiences and ideas changed through the years and for the modern era? Explore artworks and exhibitions, meet the personalities and discover the stories behind the façades of the nation’s collections from London to Edinburgh and from Liverpool to Cambridge.

Programme for Day 3

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

This study day will take us to Merseyside where, in 1881, the Walker Art Gallery received 610,000 visitors in 260 days and Liverpool could boast the finest art gallery outside London. The quality and breadth of the Walker’s collections, then and now, reflect the industry, character and generosity of the city itself with shipping magnates, brewers, traders and rate payers all offering patronage, purchase funds and bequests. Of particular note, is the Walker’s collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, originally exhibited at the Liverpool Academy’s annual exhibition and collected by local patrons. The establishment of the John Moores Painting Prize in 1957 enabled the gallery to acquire major examples of British contemporary art.


  1. The Liverpool Academy and the Royal Institution
  2. The Annual Exhibitions and the Walker Art Gallery
  3. Liverpool Patrons
  4. The John Moores Painting Prize


 Sarah Burles studied History of Art at Cambridge University before doing a masters at University College London. She went on to have a career in museum and gallery education, establishing new services in three different museums before working at the Fitzwilliam Museum for many years. Sarah is the founder of Cambridge Art Tours and a Tour Director for ACE Cultural Tours and has led tours to Europe, America and the UK.

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