Rugby fine art collection was started in 1947 by the City Council, whose aspiration was 'to collect the work of artists of promise and renown'. The gallery is now housed in a purpose-built complex above the city’s library and tourist information office.
The new building was designed by Crampin, Pring and McCartney architects and the interior designed by Robin Wade and Partners. The new building opened to the public in 2000.
The collection is small yet holds a number of notable works by 20th-century and contemporary artists. Rugby Council has regularly added to the collection since 1947, relying on art advisors to suggest works to acquire. This has created a varied and interesting mix of different artists and styles. The collection includes works by Paula Rego, Lucian Freud, L S Lowry, Paul Nash and Bridget Riley. Most recently, Rugby has acquired its first moving image work by AK Dolven as well as a major work by Lindsay Seers gifted by the Contemporary Art Society.
Rugby is entering into an active acquisition period, looking to purchase more moving image and photographic works. Curators at Rugby select a 'collection show' once a year from March to June; at all other times of the year there is an active temporary exhibition programme.