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.


Silver casket with Dr Anna Groundwater

Mary, Queen of Scots silver casket sold to Scottish museum for £1.8m

24 May 2022

A casket believed to have once belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots has been bought by the National Museum of Scotland with help from donors and art funds.

Joseph Wright of Derby

Derby museum brings Wright of Derby painting ‘home’

16 May 2022

A Wright of Derby (1734-97) self-portrait, in private hands for 250 years, has been bought by Derby Museum and Art Gallery with the help of donations and a government tax scheme.

Rebecca Solomon picture

Princeton University Art Museum revealed as buyer of picture by female Pre-Raphaelite artist

05 May 2022

A work by Rebecca Solomon (1832-86) offered at Sotheby’s was bought by The Princeton University Art Museum.

A Book of Rhymes

Brontë mini book heads home to Haworth after £1m raised to buy it from New York dealer

28 April 2022

A rediscovered miniature book by Charlotte Brontë has been sold at a New York book fair.

Col Hely Hutchinson 1

Sitwell portrait returns to Scarborough

21 April 2022

A Sitwell portrait is returning home after Scarborough Museums Trust bought it at a Newbury auction.

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Dealers finalise institutional sales

18 April 2022

Several dealerships have completed sales to institutions after the winter showing of London Art Week (LAW).

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Capturing ‘the sentiments of a recovering nation’

18 April 2022

The original watercolour draught for Sydney Harbour Bridge that featured on the front page of ATG No 2538 was bought by the Australian National Maritime Museum, it has been revealed.

Hogarth's Walpole

Public appeal saves Hogarth portrait of Horace Walpole for his home Strawberry Hill

16 April 2022

The funds necessary to keep a portrait of Horace Walpole on display at his former home Strawberry Hill have been raised following a public appeal.

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Artist Sarah Biffin in double spotlight

04 April 2022

Self-portrait sold to National Portrait Gallery by dealer who also plans an exhibition

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Rome gallery makes Bourbon drawing sale to Hamburg museum

04 April 2022

Antonacci Lapiccirella Fine Art of Rome has sold a pencil drawing depicting Maria Luisa de Bourbon to The Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Hogarth's Walpole

Public appeal for £25,000 to buy Hogarth’s Horace Walpole portrait for Strawberry Hill museum

24 March 2022

The Strawberry Hill Trust is appealing for public donations to buy a painting by William Hogarth (1697-1784) of Horace Walpole.

William Beckford

Deathbed picture of controversial collector William Beckford bought by museum

23 March 2022

The 1844 portrait William Beckford on his Deathbed by Willes Maddox (1813-53) has been purchased by Bath Preservation Trust and will go on display at Beckford’s Tower and Museum this month.

PAN print

Museum buys PAN magazine prints

21 March 2022

California dealership Denenberg Fine Arts has sold a full set of 80 prints from the Jugendstil magazine PAN to Chicago’s Driehaus Museum.

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Walter Sickert’s way to Tipperary

14 March 2022

A patriotic Walter Sickert (1860-1942) painting bought by the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London is earmarked to be displayed among the exhibits in the new art, film and photographic galleries opening next year.

A portrait of Caroline Herschel

Bath museum buys visitor book of astronomer Caroline Herschel

09 March 2022

The Herschel Museum of Astronomy in Bath has bought Caroline Herschel’s visitor book dating from her time living near Windsor.

Carved falcon

Dealer ‘ecstatic’ as Hampton Court welcomes ‘missing’ Boleyn falcon

07 March 2022

A carved oak falcon depicting Anne Boleyn’s royal badge bought by a dealer for £75 is to go on display at Hampton Court Palace.

Renaissance roundel

Rare Renaissance roundel bought by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art after a nearly 20-year wait

24 February 2022

A rare Renaissance roundel has been bought by the Metropolitan Museum of Art nearly 20 years after its first attempt.

Bacchus bronze

Essex auction house helps in return of stolen Roman statue

09 February 2022

Essex saleroom TimeLine Auctions and a Dutch detective have worked together to return a stolen Roman statue to France after it was missing for 50 years.

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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