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.


John Eskenazi and the BM’s Buddha…

28 April 2004

TOWARDS the end of March it was reported that The British Museum and the V&A had joined forces for the first time to acquire a rare Indian 7th century metal statue of a standing figure of the Buddha Sakyamuni, the first to enter a public European collection. After a tour of provincial museums it will be shown alternatively at the two institutions.

Van Dyck and Dixwell mix well in Canterbury

15 April 2004

THE Royal Museum & Art Gallery of Canterbury have acquired a van Dyck portrait of one of the city’s most famous sons from one of London’s leading Old Master picture dealers.

Architect donates 600-work collection to Pallant gallery

23 March 2004

THE architect of the newly built British Library is to donate 600 art works collected over 50 years to the nation. Professor Sir Colin St John Wilson will hand over the gift to Pallant House Gallery in Chichester via the National Art Collections Fund (Art Fund), the UK’s leading independent art charity.

Fluorspar is cup that cheers for Ede

05 February 2004

Funded by the Friends of the British Museum, the Caryatid Fund and the National Art Collections Fund, the British Museum has acquired an extremely rare Roman fluorspar cup from the 1st century AD. The total cost of the antiquity, bought from a leading London dealer, was £150,000.

The Raj recaptured

26 August 2003

A grant of £25,095 from the National Art Collections Fund has helped the British Library acquire an album of evocative memories of 19th-century Delhi – Reminiscences of Imperial Delhi.

Support for a second Cellini satyr proves well-founded

19 August 2003

THE Burlington Magazine have extra reason to celebrate their centenary this month as they unveil the rediscovery of a lost work by Benvenuto Cellini. The 19in (48cm) bronze statuette of a satyr has been identified during the preparation of a catalogue raisonné of sculpture in the Royal Collection.

Treasury launch review into saving art for the nation

14 July 2003

Solutions should cause ‘least distortion’ to the art market: THE Government have launched the review – announced in this year’s Budget – into how they can improve on the current hand-to-mouth system of saving art for the nation.

War museum plans three-year online poster campaign…

30 May 2003

The Imperial War Museum and Manchester Metropolitan University are to carry out a three-year project to catalogue, digitally photograph and publish online 10,000 posters from the museum’s collection.

Walpole wanderer returns

08 April 2003

IT’S not often that Britain recovers a highly important work from the United States – most of the traffic is usually the other way. However, Norfolk Museums Service are celebrating silver dealer Christopher Hartop’s triumph in negotiating the return of Sir Robert Walpole’s sterling silver tureen, which has now been put on show in the silver gallery at Norwich Castle.

Spanish state expected to buy unknown Goyas

01 April 2003

A rare discovery of two completely unknown paintings by Goya has aroused considerable interest in Madrid. Discovered during a visit to a family in Madrid, the two paintings of Tobias and the Angel and The Holy Family were identified by the picture expert of Alcalá Subastas, Richard de Willermin.

Reynolds portrait of Omai faces export ban

06 January 2003

THE Tate Gallery has launched a campaign to raise £12.5m to acquire Sir Joshua Reynolds’ celebrated portrait of Omai, the South Sea Islander who took London Society by storm in the 18th century.

Bligh relics acquired by National Maritime Museum, but it is not all plain sailing and there were other…

30 October 2002

Pick of the Bligh relics sold at Christies King Street last month was the cup that he used to hold his meagre rations of bread and water, a coconut shell that bears his incised initials, the date April 1789 and, inscribed in ink around the rim, the words “The Cup I eat my miserable allowance of”.

BM textiles crisis

27 August 2002

THE acquisition of a unique collection of Afghan textiles has highlighted the cash crisis at the British Museum. Despite spending £34,000 on the collection, including a £26,000 grant from the National Arts Collection Fund, the BM’s ethnographic textiles collection has nowhere to display it.

Hole in one for Scottish gallery

24 July 2002

JUST as the world’s top golfers were teeing off for The Open at Muirfield last week, Scotland was celebrating another hole in one. Grants totalling more than £2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Arts Collection Fund, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews and private benefactors meant that the Scottish National Portrait Gallery could acquire the nation’s most important golfing painting, Charles Lees’ (1800-1880) oil on canvas, The Golfers (1847).

Dublin unveils unknown hoard of works by Joyce

12 June 2002

THE National Library of Ireland has acquired a sprawling collection of manuscripts by James Joyce, which remained hidden for nearly 60 years after being concealed from the Nazis.They include a total of some 700 pages in six notebooks, 16 drafts from Ulysses and typescripts and proofs of Finnegans Wake.

Ashmolean wins Rubens oil sketch

14 May 2002

THE Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has just acquired an important oil sketch by Sir Peter Paul Rubens thanks to grants from the National Arts Collection Fund and the Resource V&A Purchase Fund.

£1.7m reject returns

24 April 2002

ONE of the most important oils by Irish artist Louis le Brocquy (b.1916) is to return to Ireland after spending nearly 50 years in Italy.

Grants rescue this rare amber cabinet for nation

03 April 2002

THE Heritage Lottery Fund have announced a grant of £404,500 to help the Walker Museum in Liverpool acquire an exquisite Weld Blundell Amber Cabinet, which was due for export.

Last Supper study to go to Fitzwilliam Museum thanks to art fund grants

18 December 2001

THE Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is to be the new home for Federico Barocci’s £1.3m drawing Study for The Institution of the Eucharist.

Manchester gallery secures Light of the World after all

28 November 2001

Manchester City Art Gallery, the underbidder at auction for the lantern which was the original model for Holman Hunt’s The Light of the World, have secured the piece after all. The gallery underbid the lantern, pictured right, when it was sold to a private collector for £46,000 (plus 15% buyer’s premium) on November 1 at Bonhams Knightsbridge.

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