Museum acquisitions

Museums often acquire works through donations but, in spite of funding constraints, they also make purchases to expand their collections, either bidding at auctions, negotiating private treaty sales or, in the UK, via the Acceptance in Lieu scheme.


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Trio of works sold by West Midlands dealer go to major museums

10 December 2019

This 19th century Jamaican inlaid table by Ralph Turnbull was one of several pieces that Thomas Coulborn & Sons sold to major museums this year.

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Yorkshire’s Brontë Parsonage Museum secures rare manuscript at Paris auction

18 November 2019

The Brontë Parsonage Museum has secured an 1830 autograph miniature manuscript by a 14-year-old Charlotte Brontë (1816-55) that was auctioned at Aguttes in Paris.

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National Gallery appeals for £2m from public to buy Gentileschi masterpiece

12 November 2019

London’s National Gallery is asking for the public’s help to raise the final £2m required to buy 'The Finding of Moses' by Orazio Gentileschi (1563-1639) from its owner, entrepreneur and founder of the DFS furniture retailer, Graham Kirkham.

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Actress Judi Dench and the Brontë Museum call on public to help fund bid for miniature manuscript by a 14-year-old Charlotte Brontë

24 October 2019

The Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth in West Yorkshire has begun a public campaign to raise the final funds needed to bid for a rare manuscript from the Brontës' childhood.

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Famous Welsh religious revival painting ‘Salem’ saved for nation

11 October 2019

The National Library of Wales has bought Salem by Sydney Curnow Vosper (1866- 1942) ahead of a planned auction.

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Re-discovered Bronzino painting acquired by Getty Museum

10 October 2019

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles has purchased two works of Italian art: a painting of The Virgin and Child by Agnolo Bronzino (1503-72) and a pair of marble sculptures of The Annunciation by Giovanni di Balduccio (c.1290-1339).

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Louvre buys sketches showing Napoleon’s seizure of art during Prussian campaign

08 October 2019

A group of drawings and a sketchbook compiled by an artist assigned to Napoleon’s campaigns in Prussia and Poland in 1806-7 has been secured by the Louvre at a Toulouse auction.

Bristol University to buy judge's copy of 'Lady Chatterley’s Lover' from famous obscenity trial

02 October 2019

Fundraising led by writers’ association English PEN has helped save for the nation the judge’s annotated copy of 'Lady Chatterley’s Lover'.

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Dealer sells Gell portrait to British Museum

30 September 2019

London and Petworth dealer Timothy Langston Fine Art & Antiques has sold a portrait of the Regency period antiquarian Sir William Gell (1777-1836) to the British Museum.

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Greek marble ‘wedding present’ returned to Munich museum

18 September 2019

A Hellenistic marble stele that was received as a wedding present in the 1950s has been returned to a museum in Germany after an investigation by antiquities dealers and an Oxford scholar.

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Pick of the week: Museum wraps up sale of coveted coverlet

09 September 2019

The National Museums of Scotland has been revealed as the buyer of the Storrar Coverlet – a rare woollen textile withdrawn at the 11th hour from a sale at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh in August.

‘A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley’ by Rowland Emett

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang designer's sculpture bought by National Railway Museum in York

05 September 2019

A 26-foot long kinetic sculpture by Rowland Emett (1906-90) who designed the magical car in the eponymous 1960s film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has been sold by Bonhams for a six-figure sum to the National Railway Museum in York.

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Jane Austen letter heads home to museum

02 September 2019

Jane Austen’s House Museum in Hampshire has successfully raised the £35,000 required to buy a fragment of a letter written by the novelist in 1814. The rare manuscript was being sold on behalf of its private owner by London dealer Maggs.

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Rare late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman conquest coin hoard discovered in Somerset valued at £4m

29 August 2019

A Bath museum hopes to acquire a rare hoard of coins found in a Chew Valley field that could be valued at £4m.

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Letter by Jane Austen goes on view at museum after being acquired from Maggs

20 August 2019

Jane Austen's House Museum in Hampshire successfully raised the £35,000 required to buy a fragment of a letter written by the great novelist in 1814. The rare manuscript was being sold on behalf of its private owner by London dealer Maggs.

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De Morgan Foundation goes digital with new initiative to attract a wider audience for artists work

20 August 2019

The De Morgan Foundation is launching a series of initiatives to bring the works of Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919) and her husband William (1839-1917) to a wider audience.

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St Agatha returns to Osterley Park after nearly ninety years away

17 August 2019

A painting of the early Christian martyr St Agatha by Italian artist Carlo Dolci (1616-87) will return to Osterley Park and House in Middlesex where it once hung.

‘View on the River Seine – Morning’ by Richard Parkes Bonington

National Gallery acquires Richard Parkes Bonington painting in £600,000 tax deal

15 August 2019

A view of the River Seine by Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-28) has entered the collection of The National Gallery in London under the acceptance in lieu scheme.

Art Fund awards boost collecting cash at museums

12 August 2019

A curator of archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum in York and an assistant curator of ceramics at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent are among the winners of the Art Fund’s latest annual New Collecting Awards.

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Museum curators win funding to bolster collections including antique coins, ceramics and works on paper

07 August 2019

A curator of archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum in York and an assistant curator of ceramics at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent are among the winners of theArt Fund’s latest annual New Collecting Awards.

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