The Collection was principally formed by the 4th Marquess of Hertford within the period of 1840-70. However his predecessors, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marquesses also collected significant works, while his illegitimate son Richard Wallace worked first as an agent for the 4th Marquess, and once he inherited the Collection from his father he also added to the Collection.
The Wallace Collection is a national museum which displays works of art collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the son of the 4th Marquess. It is among the most significant collections of European fine and decorative arts in the world and one of the greatest bequest of art ever left to the British Nation. The Collection encompasses Old Master oil paintings from the fourteenth to the late nineteenth century, including works by Titian, Velázquez, Rubens and Van Dyck, princely arms and armour, and one of the finest collections of French eighteenth-century art in all media.
Bequeathed to the British nation in 1897 by Lady Wallace, the Wallace Collection opened to the public as a museum on 22 June 1900.
Apart from breaks during the two world wars it has been open ever since. Although by the terms of Lady Wallace's bequest the Wallace Collection is a closed collection (i.e. nothing may be added to it or taken away), many changes have taken place in the way it is presented. The most spectacular of these was the Centenary Project of 1997-2000 which created many new spaces and facilities. Many rooms have been refurbished in the last twenty years. The latest of these is the Great Gallery which reopened in September 2014.