The Collection is inextricably linked to the history of the National Art School, and indeed much of the story of the School can be told through the items held. The Collection is wide ranging with more than 800 photographs and countless documents, diplomas and ephemera that form a rich network of meaning when placed alongside the artworks, and reveal the fascinating narrative of the School’s alumni. The Collection holds works by many of Australia’s best known artists and is a key repository of the following artists: Lyndon Dadswell, Douglas Dundas, Rayner Hoff, Jack Kilgour, Colin Lanceley, Lorna Nimmo, Peter Rushforth, Garry Shead and artists who participated in the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme.
The site of the National Art School in the former Darlinghurst Gaol also means that thousands of artists have responded to one of Sydney’s most significant heritage sites by making artworks relating to the buildings and their history. As well as these works, the Collection holds a small but revealing number of items including gaol maps, photographs of inmates and warders, and restraining devices from the gaol period. These have often become the subject matter for works in the Collection.