From Acquisition to Exhibition

Overview of all collections-related activities

The CNAP is involved in the arts economy as a public collector; it seeks out and supports young artists, in particular by being the first to purchase works from promising artists. Each year, some hundreds of works are acquired from artists and creators of all nationalities.

The collection known as Fonds national d’art contemporain, or the French national contemporary art collection, now features over 107,000 works and aims to accurately reflect the contemporary art scene.

Expanding the collection

Since 1982, three national commissions of experts have been in charge of acquiring works each year in the following fields: visual arts; photography and video; and decorative arts, crafts and industrial design. These commissions consist of 4 to 5 ex-officio members and 9 outside figures chosen for their skills and expertise, all qualified to make acquisition proposals. All the proposals are voted on by secret ballot. Any artist who lives in France or is represented by a French gallery may directly submit works to the acquisition and works commission.

The CNAP receives a number of works as donations. These can be significant donations or works given along with an acquisition. Donations are subject to the approval of the expert commissions before entering the collections. They must be accepted by the CNAP’s Board of Directors.

State commissions
Broad in scope, they allow for the production of new works in a variety of artistic and cultural fields. State commissions fall within all areas:
- visual arts, including photography, multimedia, graphic design and design and sound;
- crafts and traditional skills; certain commissions seek to revive the interest of younger artists in traditional skills (prints, ceramics, textile, etc.);
- new territories: the internet, radio, television, etc.

Collection conservation and restoration

Handling works of art is a highly technical job calling for specific know-how. Over the last few years, the CNAP has undertaken a comprehensive study of preventive artwork conservation and restoration.
Since 1996, the inventory programme tracks works on long-term loan, providing information as to their state of conservation and exact location. This effort helps forge new ties with long-term loan beneficiaries, while ensuring that inventories are updated and collection conservation and knowledge is improved.


A substantial body of documentation is made available to curators, exhibition curators and researchers. It consists of over 9,000 works and subscriptions to some thirty news and specialised contemporary art periodicals, which continually add to the documentation on the collections.
An image database of over 130,000 visuals is available to borrowers (subject to certain conditions).

Artworks exhibition

In conjunction with the contemporary art network in France and abroad, the CNAP develops partnerships to increase awareness of the collection and promote the French art scene. It provides its skills and expertise to serve these projects, thus contributing to making contemporary art accessible to an ever-growing audience.  Each year, the Centre national des arts plastiques is a partner to over 200 venues, to which it lends some 2,500 works.
In the context of increasing awareness of its collections, the Centre national des arts plastiques pays special attention to assisting all audiences in their encounters with the works through the creation of several programmes. Cultural mediation seeks to develop a new relationship with art, one based on sharing and long-term discussions. Along with partner institutions, the CNAP supervises the implementation of various systems to receive visitors and perform cultural mediation, and offers many resources to a wide range of audiences. The CNAP produces educational resources on contemporary art and implements programmes and special cultural mediation tools.

Updated: September 3 2021