RBSA Collection & Archive

The RBSA Collection

The RBSA houses a permanent Collection of over 950 works of art which include paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery. The Collection comprises 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, William Gear and Bernard Fleetwood-Walker.

There is an ongoing acquisitions programme and the Collection continues to grow each year. Recent acquisitions include works by William Bloye, RBSA (1890 – 1975), sculptor and designer, and Sir Frank Brangwyn RA, RWS, RBA (1867 – 1956). 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 Collection.

The RBSA’s Archive includes 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.

Archive Enquiries

Archive volunteers facilitate enquiries from academic researchers and members of the public. We can provide the following services:

  • Perform a search for information regarding past Members, Associates and exhibitors at the RBSA, from 1814 through to the present day. Archival material includes past exhibition catalogues, press cuttings books, and photograph albums

  • Send copies of any relevant archival material via e-mail or post
  • We can occasionally accommodate in person visits by professional researchers. All visits need to be arranged in advance, and are supervised by a member of the RBSA’s Archive Team

Enquiry Fee

A basic enquiry costs £25. More detailed enquiries, such as a complete exhibition history of an artist or artists, costs an additional £25 per day spent on the research.

The fee for visits is £25 per day. All archive fees contribute to the maintenance of the Collection and Archive. Email the Archive Team: archives@rbsa.org.uk

Please note: the Archive Team is made up of a small group of part-time volunteers. They work on one enquiry at a time in the order of which they are received and paid for. Therefore, it can take 4 weeks or more for them to respond to an enquiry.


The RBSA is always happy to consider donations to the Collection. Due to limitations of space, the Society operates a strict acquisitions policy whereby only works by past and present RBSA Members and Associates, or works considered integral to Birmingham’s art history, are accepted. If you feel you have something appropriate to add to the Collection, please contact the Archive Team by email at archives@rbsa.org.uk