Sir Roy Strong Art historian and former director of the V&A and the National Portrait Gallery

‘The explanation for our prime status in the world of art and museums is summed up in one word: continuity. Since the icono-clast movement of the Tudor and Stuart periods and the depredations of the Civil War, there has been no dislocation to the nation’s cultural life that took the form either of a mass destruction of artefacts or of the wiping out of a class. Hence our heritage of palaces, country houses and churches. And our prime legacy of freedom within the law has enabled all kinds of aesthetic creativity to flourish, however controversial. It is a contribution that other countries, subject to revolution both political and social and invasion from without, cannot match. ’

Simply the best

British Museum, London; National Gallery, London; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; National Portrait Gallery, London; Royal Academy, London; National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh; Tate, London, Liverpool and St Ives; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, West Sussex; Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London; Sir John Soane’s Museum, London; Manchester City Galleries; V&A, London; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Holburne Museum, Bath; Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney; Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, Gloucestershire; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham; Imperial War Museums, London, Manchester and Duxford

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