Wolverhampton Art Gallery and its branch museum Bantock House and Park, opened to the public in 1887, following a generous donation from local businessman Philip Horsmann. In the late 19th century three large bequests from local tin-toy manufacturer Sidney Cartwright (1802–1883), hardware manufacturer Paul Lutz (1832–1899) and Horsmann himself (1825–1890) formed the nucleus of the Collection. Their collections were particularly strong in 19th-century landscape and genre painting and a group of works by the Cranbrook Colony is amongst the Gallery's most significant holdings.
In the 1960s, the Gallery began to collect British and American Pop Art and this Collection is one of the largest to be found in a regional collection. The gallery actively collects contemporary art and was part of the Contemporary Art Society Special Collections Scheme from 2000 to 2005, acquiring new work by David Rayson and Tony Bevan amongst others. Another important part of the Collection is the Troubles-related art, which addressess the conflict in Northern Ireland and the Gallery has built a reputation for tackling social and political isues prevalent in today's society through its collecting policies, programme of exhibitions, displays and related events.