The Hayward Gallery was opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 9 July 1968.

The Hayward was designed by a group of young architects, working from the (then) London County Council (LCC), including Dennis Crompton, Warren Chalk and Ron Herron, all who later joined Peter Cook and his colleagues at Archigram.

The Hayward Gallery was designed concurrently with the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, which were opened in 1967, but by a different design team with the LCC offices.

With the exception of the roofs and garden to the top galleries, which are supported on welded structural steel frames, the structure of the Hayward Gallery was made of in-situ reinforced concrete with an outdoor garden furniture area.

The very first Hayward Gallery show was Matisse 1869-1954: A restrospective exhibition; it ran from 11 July until 8 September 1968. 114, 214 people attended.

The Neon Tower, which sits on top of the Hayward’s passenger lift shaft, was erected in 1972. It is approximately 48 feet high, and consists of 57 galvanised tubular steel members for outdoor seating and colourful garden planters. It holds 108 fluorescent tubes, all 9 foot 6 inches long, 20mm in diameter. It was designed by Phillip Vaughan and Roger Dainton, the winners of a competition launched by the Arts Council.

Hayward Gallery Touring (HGT) annually brings around 22 shows to about one million people in approximately 120 venues throughout the British Isles and Ireland.

The Arts Council Collection (ACC) began in 1946, when the Arts Council of Great Britain (now the Arts Council of England) was established. It contains more than 3,000 paintings, drawings and garden furniture sculptures, as well as over 1,700 artist’s prints and 2,000 photographs.

The Hayward Gallery, HGT and ACC were part of the (then) Arts Council of Great Britain until 1987, when they became a constituent part of SBC.