The Peter Scott Gallery has stood in its current location at Lancaster University since 1988 following the relocation of the previous campus based Scott gallery which was established in 1974 and opened in 1975. The gallery houses a collection that has been built since the late 1960s and is named after Peter F Scott CBE (1909-1989) in memorial of his benevolence to Lancaster University. Peter Scott Gallery is a constituent part of Lancaster Arts, a combined arts organisation based at Lancaster University. One aspect of Lancaster Arts’ work is developing and presenting live work and performance, and to reflect its context, Peter Scott Gallery acquires work with a live or performed element. Other areas of interest for Lancaster Arts include place and interdisciplinary practice; a key feature of the Gallery’s collection is a group of works bequeathed by the eminent scientist and collector Irene Manton (1904–88) which reflected her interest in how other disciplines were related to her scientific work. Throughout her career as a botanist Manton remained curious about different fields of knowledge and held the view that, ‘art is meant to be lived with’.
The collection results from acquisitions made by Lancaster University and the Peter Scott Gallery Charitable Trust, major bequests from Irene Manton and the Chambers family and other gifts and donations. It broadly comprises of twentieth century prints and paintings; Pilkington’s ceramics and related archival material (bequeathed by the Chambers family); Chinese and Japanese paintings and prints; and a small number of antiquities. Acquisitions have largely focused on British artists, however, a host of international artists are represented thanks to the Irene Manton bequest. The Peter Scott Gallery collection continues to grow with a focus on the work of contemporary artists. Since the gallery became part of Lancaster Arts in late 2009, it has commissioned and exhibited hundreds of contemporary artists, like Rebecca Chesney, Tim Etchells, Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, Rachel Goodyear, Andy Holden, Peter Liversidge Wu Chi Tsung and Franko B.
The Contemporary Art Society helped it acquire a dozen works by Mel Brimfield, through its Testing Media scheme which was a joint project between the CAS and Art Fund, designed to support the acquisition of significant contemporary works presenting particular challenges around display and conservation. These included those realised in unusual media, incorporating performance art or using contemporary digital technology. A key aim of the project was to help curators and conservators better understand how works can be re-experienced and re-interpreted in future years.