The house is now run by English Heritage and is open to the public as a museum and art gallery, although His Grace the current Duke of Wellington still uses part of the building as a part-time residence. It is sometimes referred to as the Wellington Museum. It is perhaps the only preserved example of an English aristocratic town house from its period. The practice has been to maintain the rooms as far as possible in the original style and decor. It contains the 1st Duke's collection of paintings, porcelain, the silver centrepiece made for the Duke in Portugal, c 1815, sculpture and furniture. Antonio Canova's heroic marble nude of Napoleon holding a gilded Nike in the palm of his hand, made 1802-10, standing 3.45 metres to the raised left hand. It was set up for a time in the Louvre and was bought by the Government for Wellington in 1816 (Pevsner) and stands in Adam's Stairwell.
The magnificient collection of 200 paintings includes 83 which were acquired by the first Duke after the Battle of Vitoria in 1813, the paintings were in Joseph Bonaparte's baggage train, they were from the Spanish royal collection and were presented to Wellington by King Ferdinand VII of Spain. The painting collection includes work by:
American: John Singleton Copley
British: Sir William Beechey, John Burnet, George Dawe, John Hoppner, Edwin Landseer, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Sir David Wilkie
Dutch: Pieter de Hooch, Jan van Huysum, Nicolaes Maes, Willem van Mieris, Antonis Mor, Aernout van der Neer, Adriaen van Ostade, Cornelius van Poelenburgh, Jan Steen, Willem van de Velde the Younger, Jan Victors
Flemish: Paul Brill, Adriaen Brouwer, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Anthony van Dyck, Antony Francis van der Meulen, Rubens, David Teniers the Younger
French: Claude Lorrain, Claude-Joseph Vernet
German: Hans von Aachen, Adam Elsheimer, Anton Raphael Mengs
Italian: Leandro Bassano, Giuseppe Cesari, Carlo Cignani, Antonio da Correggio, Luca Giordano, Antiveduto Grammatica, Guercino, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Guido Reni, Giulio Romano, Salvator Rosa, Francesco Trevisani, Marcello Venusti
Spanish: Claudio Coello, Goya, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Jusepe de Ribera, Velasquez
The 1st Duke received many gifts from European rulers that are displayed in the House:
A pair of large candelabra of Siberian porphyry, ormolu & Malachite centre and two side tables, presented by Nicholas I of Russia.
A pair of Swedish porphyry urns, from King Charles XIV John of Sweden.
A dinner service of Berlin porcelain, from Frederick William III of Prussia.
The Egyptian dinner service of Sèvres porcelain, from Louis XVIII of France.
The silver and silver-gilt Portuguese service of over a thousand pieces, from the Portuguese Council of Regency.
The Saxon Service of Meissen porcelain, from Frederick Augustus I of Saxony.