The Arts Club was founded in 1863 by men of vision in order to provide a haven for those people who had professional or amateur relationships with the Arts, Literature or Sciences and it has provided this hospitality and friendship ever since. Current membership includes a number of Royal Academicians, architects, musicians, actors and writers.
HRH Prince Philip is the Patron and Sir Peter Blake is the President of the Club.
The Chairman of the Club is Gary Landesberg and the Chief Operating Officer is Remy Lyse. Current members include Grayson Perry, the photographer Tom Hunter, the actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Cattrall and also Ronnie Wood. Well known 'non-artist' members include Richard Attenborough, Matthew Parris, and Henry Blofeld.
There are regular activities, recitals and lectures. The dress code is "comfortable". Suits and ties are not obligatory. Membership requirements are a participation or interest in art, literature or science. Members must be proposed and seconded by existing members. In 1896, the Club relocated from its original home on Hanover Square to its present elegant 18th Century townhouse at 40 Dover Street, affording its members a comfortable and impressive base in Mayfair. It has survived two world wars, including a direct hit on the building during the Blitz of 1940.
In the course of its existence the Club has included amongst its members many outstanding figures in the history of art, literature and science: writers such as Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Thomas Hughes; musicians such as Paolo Tosti, Charles Halle and Franz Liszt; artists such as Frederic Leighton, Walter Sickert, John Everett Millais, Auguste Rodin and James McNeill Whistler, as well as an array of pre-eminent surgeons, solicitors and professionals.
In September 2011, the Club re-launched after undergoing a complete renovation, transforming it into a truly venerable institution. The principal areas of interest amongst the current members are: art, architecture, fashion, film, literature, music, performance, photography, science, theatre and media. It proudly continues to be a hub for creative and entrepreneurial patrons to come together to meet, exchange ideas, dine and participate in the varied events, and the Club has reclaimed its place at the heart of contemporary cultural life in London.
The Club’s art collection remains at its very core, highlighting international trends, as well as maintaining a focus on British-based artists. Amelie von Wedel, the Club’s art advisor and curator, has chosen the pieces to include a combination of site-specific installations and carefully selected acquisitions. The permanent collection includes work by Tomas Saraceno, John Baldessari and John Stezaker, which sit alongside both the Club's historic collection and a series of temporary exhibitions which change throughout the year.