History of Paisley Art Institute
Present Day

The Paisley Art Institute holds its Annual Exhibition in Paisley Museum and Art Galleries. The exhibition attracts work from artist members and open entrants across the length and breadth of the U.K.


In recent years the role of the Institute has expanded. The Institute awards PAI Diplomas to Artist Members meeting the rigorous criteria of the Credentials Committee for excellence. the letters PAI are granted in perpetuity and at any one time only 40 living artists hold this honour.


In 1983 the Institute held the first Scottish Drawing Competition, this biennial event usually held in November, highlights the Institutes commitment to promoting and exhibiting this essential discipline.


During the Annual Exhibition, the Committee organise a Schools’ Art Competition. This is open to all schools in Renfrewshire and is well supported. Prizes are awarded and selected works are exhibited.


The Institute was founded in 1876 for the purpose defined in its Constitution as ‘encouragement and promotion of art’. Founding patrons, leading local industrialists of the day, contributed many sculptures and paintings so starting the permanent collection of art.


The collection, containing works to rival Kelvingrove and the Burrell Collection, continues to grow. Included are paintings by the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists, there are also significant works by artists such as Boudin, Rousseau and Corot. A major exhibition, 'A Paisley Legacy', celebrated the double centenary (1915) of the gifting of Galleries 2, 3, 4 & 5 of Paisley Museum, through the munificence of Peter Coats, and the start of the Paisley Art Institute Collection.. The Museum itself was built in 1870 and the gallery was gifted to the Institute by Sir Peter Coates in 1882. The need for increased wall space to house the growing collection and annual exhibition resulted in the building of additional galleries.

These were given to the Institute on the 3rd of February 1915 by Mr Peter Coats, son of Sir Peter Coats. With the exception of the years of the Second World War and a short period in the late ‘70s when the building was closed for repair, the Institute has held its exhibitions in these galleries. Paisley Art Institute is now recognised as a leading exhibition body in Scotland.