It said £8.4m in grants were offered during the year which included £4.5m towards acquisitions.
Among the highlights was the joint acquisition of Joshua Reynolds’ Portrait of Mai (Omai) by the National Portrait Gallery and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles; Joseph Wright of Derby’s Self-Portrait at the Age of about Forty (c.1772-73) by Derby Museum and Art Gallery and The Herefordshire Hoard (buried in 878) by Hereford Museum and Art Gallery.
It contributed £2.5m for the Mai (Omai) portrait – the highest amount in Art Fund’s 120-year history. The picture will be on display in the National Portrait Gallery from June 22.
Art Fund said the grants were possible due to its 135,000 members who buy the National Art Pass as well as the generosity of trusts, foundations and donors.
The fund said it also significantly increased its total overall grants for museums, in response to “the most challenging few years for museums and galleries since the charity was established 120 years ago”.
Jenny Waldman, director of Art Fund, said: “It has been heartening to hear from our 850+ museum and gallery partners that green shoots of optimism are emerging after a difficult few years. Visitor figures are edging upwards, and we have seen a discernible greater confidence in acquiring and commissioning art.
“As our brilliant museum colleagues navigate their recovery from the pandemic, with the added burden of the cost-of-living crisis, our support is needed as much as ever. We are delighted that Art Fund has been able to support museums and advocate for the further significant investment they need.”