The collections comprise Egyptian, Greek and Etruscan antiquities, English watercolours, Modern British paintings, Japanese prints, photographs, sculpture, manuscripts, rare Bibles, printed books, coins, stamps and natural history. There is also a set of Stuart Devlin’s parcel gilt Easter eggs. Designed in the tradition of Fabergé, each egg contains a surprise when opened, such as a jester, a fish in seaweed or a mouse in a wedge of cheese.
Sir Winston Churchill’s A Distant View of Venice, 1929 is one of the highlights of the collection. It is an excellent example of his robust and energetic style. Churchill is above all a colourist. He captured the essence of the Venetian colour in the city, the clouds and their reflections in the water. The bravura brushwork gives texture to the surface of the canvas, from the impasto in the sky to the long, fluid strokes in the water. His enthusiasm was inexhaustible. In his essay Painting as a Pastime, he wrote: "When I get to heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so get to the bottom of the subject."
Not all of the collections can be displayed at the same time but the following items are usually on show: Greek and Egyptian antiquities, paintings by Romney, Sir Winston Churchill, David Jones and Dan Llywelyn Hall and portrait busts of Old Harrovians such as Byron and Sheridan.
Recent exhibitions from the collections include Defining Mementoes: An exploration of the nature of mementoes and the reasons we treasure them (2012); Cecil Beaton's Portrait Photographs (2012); Revealing Byron (2012); The Hill Then and Now (2012); Aspects of Albion (2013); About Turn: The best of the BAMS collection (2013); Second Definition (2013).
- Fourteen 18-19th century prints of Harrow-on-the-Hill, acquired from Mrs Judith Cleveland, July 2012.
- Collection of fossils and Neolithic stone tools, presented by Mr Trevor Grey, September 2012.
- Two signed portrait photographs of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, presented by Mr Peter Hunter, May 2013.
The Old Speech Room Gallery App
The OSRG App is now available to Gallery visitors and is free to download. It introduces sixteen items from the permanent displays as well as featuring some of the treasures that are not usually on exhibition.