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.


Dame Magdalene Odundo

News In Brief – including news of Hepworth Wakefield buying a work by Magdalene Odundo

10 January 2022

A round-up of art and antiques news from the previous seven days, including news that Hepworth Wakefield bought a work by studio potter Magdalene Odundo.

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Museum given rare Scottish silver trio

03 January 2022

National Museums Scotland has acquired a trio of exceptionally rare Scottish silver objects created in the 1600s from the collection of Edinburgh jeweller Ron (1946-2012) and Rosemary Haggarty.

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Fundraising keeps Honresfield Library intact

03 January 2022

Successful £15.3m campaign secures British literature treasures including Brontë family manuscripts.

First Commonplace Book

Historic library connected to Brontë family saved for the nation in £15.3m purchase with help from Britain’s richest man

18 December 2021

The Honresfield Library of British Literature, containing more than 500 manuscripts, first editions and letters including works by the Brontë family, Robert Burns and Walter Scott, has been purchased by the Friends of the National Libraries for £15.3m.

Bust of Germanicus

Getty Museum buys an ‘Elgin marble’ – but not a Greek one

09 December 2021

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angles has acquired an early first-century marble bust of the Roman general Germanicus, the adopted son of the Emperor Tiberius and father of Caligula.

Elizabeth Yorke

National Trust property secures 18th-century portrait destined for auction after anonymous donor steps in

18 November 2021

A portrait by renowned society artist Thomas Hudson (1701-79) has been secured for National Trust property Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire.

Anglo Saxon coin hoard

‘Largest ever’ Anglo-Saxon coin hoard discovered in UK

08 November 2021

The largest ever Anglo-Saxon gold coin hoard discovered in the UK has been declared treasure after a complex inquest into the case.

Chippendale invoice

Chippendale-Garrick invoice sold to society

08 November 2021

A previously unknown bill for furnishings supplied by Thomas Chippendale (1718-79) has been bought at auction on behalf of The Chippendale Society (TCS).

Jacopo Bassano painting

Getty Museum acquires major Italian Old Master

30 October 2021

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has acquired a painting by Venetian artist Jacopo Bassano (c.1510-1592).

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Roman bronzes find home at Yorkshire Museum

27 October 2021

A wealthy US donor and a London antiquities dealership helped ensure a hoard of Roman bronzes recently discovered by metal detectorists will soon be on public display.

c.1770 commode

Midlands furniture dealer sells 18th century commode to Temple Newsam in Leeds

19 October 2021

Thomas Coulborn & Sons has celebrated BADA Week by announcing the sale of an 18th century commode to Leeds Museums & Galleries for close to £200,000.

The Ryedale Roman Bronzes

Yorkshire Museum buys Ryedale Roman Bronzes from London dealer with help from wealthy donor

15 October 2021

A hoard of Roman bronzes discovered by metal detectors and sold at auction by Hansons in May has been sold to the Yorkshire Museum.

Georges Mareschal

Versailles acquires bust of Sun King’s doctor from London dealer following TEFAF 2020 fair

06 October 2021

The Chateau de Versailles in France has purchased a sculpture of Louis XIV’s (1643-1715) surgeon.

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Dealer spots “dirty and unattributed” portrait and sells it back to historic mansion

20 September 2021

This recently discovered 18th century portrait was painted by John Vanderbank (1694-1739) and depicts Holles St John of Lydiard Park.

Portrait de Monsieur Jules Dejouy

Édouard Manet portrait in Welsh museum gets funding for restoration from TEFAF grant

28 August 2021

The National Museum Wales has received a €20,000 (£17,130) grant to restore an Édouard Manet (1832-83) picture.

Bartolomé González y Serrano portrait

Texas museum buys courtly Spanish portrait at Christie’s

24 August 2021

The Meadows Museum in Dallas, Texas has announced that it was the buyer of a Spanish Baroque Old Master at a Christie’s auction last year.

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Baroque chess set bought at TEFAF unveiled at Polish museum

09 August 2021

This impressive Baroque chess set by the Danzig amber artist Michel Redlin has returned to the city of Gdansk in Poland where it was made over 300 years ago.

Thomas Lawrence's 'The Red Boy'

Lawrence’s ‘The Red Boy’ bought by The National Gallery in deal via Christie’s

24 July 2021

The National Gallery is to acquire a portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) with the help of charitable donations and advice from Christie’s.

DH Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley's Lover

A dozen ‘national treasures’ saved for the nation after export licence blocks

21 July 2021

A dozen items deemed national treasures were bought by institutions between May 2018 and April 2020 with a value of £7.6m, according to the latest report.

'120 Days of Sodom'

French state buys infamous Marquis de Sade’s manuscript with help from a wealthy banker

13 July 2021

France’s Ministry of Culture announced the acquisition by the state of the ‘120 days of Sodom’ by the Marquis de Sade and a number of other manuscripts.

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