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FAQ on European Parliament's art collection

FAQ on European Parliament's art collection

I understand that the EP collection was established in 1980. Do you have a list (or an electronic or printed catalogue) detailing all works of art and the estimated value of the collection?

The EP art collection was started in 1980 on the initiative of the first President of the directly-elected European Parliament, Simone Veil.

Over 30 years the European Parliament has acquired 387 representative works of modern art from the EU Member States, with a focus on young, promising artists at the beginning of their careers. It has also accepted over 120 donations, and regularly houses temporary loans.

In 2011, the EP art collection was evaluated valued by art experts in terms of its value and state of conservation. Today the collection is insured for € 17, 7 million.

The list of artists represented in the collection by country is available on demand from the Works of Art Service, DG COMM

What are the criteria for choosing art for the EP collection, who selects the art and where is it displayed/stored?

New acquisitions are made after the accession of new Member States to the EU. Recent acquisitions have been made from the Member States that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007.

Pre-selection is done by the EP’s information offices in the relevant Member States, after consulting national art experts.

An Artistic Committee composed of one Quaestor and two EP Vice-Presidents submits a draft proposal to the College of Quaestors (the five Quaestors are MEPs elected by their colleagues to deal with administrative matters relating specifically to the Members). The Quaestors then make a recommendation to the President of Parliament, who takes the final decision.

The works of art, mainly paintings and sculptures, are displayed in EP buildings in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.

The Parliament is currently running a project to inventory and catalogue the collection. Once this phase is finalised, it will serve as a basis for future communication projects, making the collection more widely available to the general public, through exhibitions or via the internet.

What were the most recent acquisitions and how much did they cost?

In 2008 the European Parliament bought works of art from Hungary (€70,200), followed in 2009 by Poland (€157,950) and then in 2010 by Slovakia (€40,950), Slovenia (€20,475) and Malta (€14,625). In 2011 the Parliament will acquire works of art from the last two Member States not yet represented in the collection, Bulgaria (€54,698) and Romania (€106,178).

What is the annual budget for buying art work?

The budget for art work is organised in one-off acquisition programmes for each new Member State, spread over several years and approved by Parliament’s Bureau (i.e. the President and Vice-Presidents of the Parliament). The budget is proportional to the number of MEPs from each country. With different national programmes running over several years, this means that the annual budget varies quite a bit from year to year. The budget for the acquisition of works of art comes under the budget line for furnishing Parliament’s buildings.

Why is Parliament investing taxpayers' money in art at a time of economic hardship? Isn't this an unaffordable luxury? What is the point of having an art collection?

The European Parliament is proud of the cultural diversity of the European Union and has always encouraged all actions aimed at promoting it. The idea of acquiring artwork from the EU Member States in 1980 was to introduce the custom - often cultivated by national parliaments - of collecting and exhibiting contemporary artwork representative of national art at a European level. With each accession the collection has been enriched with artwork from new Member States. Today, the collection bears witness to the development of art in Europe and it provides a magnificent way of getting to know the richness of culture in European countries. The acquisitions begun in 2006 followed the new rounds of accession to the EU - all Member States are represented in the EP art collection.

Besides the acquired art, the European Parliament has received more than 120 donations from national parliaments and other organisations. In order to be accepted by the EP, the art must fulfil the criteria set down in the rules governing the acquisition and donation of works of art.

What is an average price the EP pays for a piece of art?

The average price for artwork bought between 2008 and 2010 was €5767.

Why do the works of art displayed in the online gallery not include pieces from all Member States?

The works of art displayed in the online gallery are the most recent acquisitions, for which the question of author's rights and copyrights are cleared. Other works of art from remaining Member States will be added gradually, as the process of obtaining the copyrights advances.