Towneley Hall was the home of the Towneley family for over 500 years but in 1901 it was sold to Burnley Corporation and today is the town’s Art Gallery and Museum, run and owned by Burnley Borough Council. The Collection of oil paintings was built up first through gifts and purchases using money from the rates. In 1908, a purpose-built art gallery was established on the top floor of the north wing. In 1921, an annual income was made available from the bequest of a local brewer, Edward Stocks Massey (1850–1909), to be used 'for the advancement of art at Towneley Hall'.
Today there are over 300 oil paintings in the Collection, the acquisitions being evenly divided between gifts and purchases, plus around 20 paintings transferred from Burnley Central Library and Padiham Museum in the 1970s. About half of the oil paintings are on public display in most of the rooms around the house.