The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts – housed in an iconic Norman Foster building – contains an exceptional collection of several thousand works of art from all over the globe.
Sitting on the edge of the University of East Anglia's campus, the Sainsbury Centre was the brainchild of Sir Robert and Lady Lisa Sainsbury, who donated their collection of modern and ethnographic art to the university in 1973. The Sainsburys hoped that students and the general public would enjoy the art as they themselves had done, so the displays in the light-filled building are designed to be informal and welcoming.
The original gift of 300 objects has since expanded into a vast collection that embraces artefacts spanning over 5,000 years of human history, most of which are on permanent display. The venue also organises several temporary exhibitions every year.
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts was one of the finalists for Museum of the Year 2014. To find out more about why it made the short list, watch our video.
At the heart of the Sainsbury Centre is the art accumulated by the Sainsburys over a period of 60 years. Modern European paintings and sculpture (including examples by Henry Moore, John Davies, Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon) sit alongside pieces from around the globe, sculpture from the ancient world and studio ceramics. Works by the British Vorticists, Russian Suprematists and Constructivists, the Dutch De Stijl group and the German Bauhaus School collected by the university are also on display, their severe aesthetic contrasting with the Art Nouveau pieces donated by Sir Colin and Lady Anderson.