The Harley Foundation

The Harley Foundation is a charitable trust which was set up in 1977 by Ivy, Duchess of Portland, to encourage the enjoyment of the visual arts and celebrate the handmade.

It funds the galleries and runs an array of events and activities. These range from opportunities for local schools to work with artists to tours of the State Rooms at Welbeck Abbey.

The Harley Foundation also provides services for artists through support schemes, retail opportunities in The Harley Shop and subsidised studio spaces. The Harley Studios have space for up to 25 artists and makers to work in the beautiful surroundings of the Welbeck Estate, Nottinghamshire.

The Harley Gallery and Foundation are named after Edward Harley, who married Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles, heiress to Welbeck, in 1713. Edward Harley was one of the greatest bibliophiles and collectors in British history – developing an extensive fine and decorative art collection and a manuscript collection which helped found the British Library.

The Harley Foundation – Registered Charity Number 276611

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The Harley Gallery

The Harley Gallery opened in 1994 and was designed by local architect  Leo Godlewski, constructed within the ruins of the Victorian gasworks which were built by the 5th Duke of Portland. This grade one museum facility won a Civic Trust Award for Architecture and a Tourist Board Special Award for Excellence. The project was funded by The Harley Foundation and the European Regional Development Fund.

For architectural originality, sheer panache, quality of materials and attention to detail, The Harley Gallery can claim to be one of the best quality buildings created in England in the 1990s, and can bear comparison with anything recently completed. The whole scheme at Welbeck is a splendid combination of creative conservation and modern patronage.

John Martin Robinson, Architectural Historian

The newest addition at The Harley Gallery is a purpose-built gallery space for The Portland Collection, which was designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and opened in March 2016. It won a  RIBA National Award 2016 and 4 RIBA East Midlands 2016 Awards, including East Midlands Building of the Year.

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The overwhelming interest shown in exhibitions like The Harley Gallery Open Exhibition and The Harley Gallery’s displays from The Portland Collection has shown that there is a tremendous appetite in our area for the arts. The new Gallery is a marvellous opportunity for us to share the Collection, which was built up by my family over generations.

William Parente, chairman of the Trustees of The Harley Foundation


Press for The Portland Collection

fascinating in terms of the objects, and let’s face it, as a view into the life of the other half

Nancy Durrant, The Times, March 2016

an elegant and enduring home for the 5,000 items in The Portland Collection

Catherine Slessor, Architects Journal, March 2016

rare and precious, privileged and eccentric

Louis Wise, The Sunday Times