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.


Deposition of Christ carving

‘Exceptionally rare’ ivory carving saved for the nation after £2m purchase

17 July 2024

A rare medieval carving previously part of an antiques dealer’s collection has been bought for £2m by the V&A.

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Paper chasers: British Museum shows off recent print purchases

17 June 2024

The British Museum never stands still when it comes to acquiring works on paper, as a new exhibition showcasing purchases over the past 20 years demonstrates

Bill Spalding Chess Set E 04 06 2024

Chess set inspired by 1980s strike goes on display at National Coal Mining Museum

04 June 2024

Pieces feature key political figures such as Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock

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Museum makes $500,000 from auction guarantees

03 June 2024

A museum in the US has revealed that it made $500,000 by acting as a third-party guarantor at high-profile sales.

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Interview: how a museum raises funds from auction guarantees

03 June 2024

The existence of third-party guarantees has been a notable feature in the auction market for more than two decades now. Indeed, it is now the most common form of guarantee issued by salerooms, in particular on high-value artworks.

Eva Gonzalès picture

Getty Museum buys 17 drawings from private collection

07 May 2024

The J Paul Getty Museum has acquired 17 drawings dating from the 16th to early 20th centuries from a private collection.

Admiral Sir Francis Austen drawings

Auction buy set to shed light on Jane Austen

29 April 2024

A 78-page manuscript bought at a Bonhams auction could help to shed light on author Jane Austen.

Bartolomeo Manfredi painting

Getty Museum buys Caravaggisti party scene from private collector

24 April 2024

The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has acquired a lively 17th century genre painting by Italian artist Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582-1622).

La Psyché by Eva Gonzalès

The National Gallery buys its first work by Impressionist painter Eva Gonzalès

22 April 2024

A painting by French Impressionist painter Eva Gonzalès has been acquired by The National Gallery via a private treaty sale from a British collection for a “tax-advantageous price” of £1.49m.

Sophie Frémiet portrait

Dealer sells portrait by female artist to Getty Museum

11 April 2024

With international institutions keen to rebalance their collections to include more works by female artists, the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles announced this week that it has bought an early portrait by Sophie Frémiet (1797-1867).

Celadon-glazed dragon box

Florida museum reveals purchase of early Chinese artefact alongside donation of 700 prints

08 April 2024

The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida has purchased an early Northern Song Dynasty stoneware box from a private US collector for a six-figure sum.

GF Watts self-portrait

Self-portrait by George Frederic Watts acquired by Watts Gallery via tax deal

03 April 2024

A self-portrait by artist George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) has been acquired by Watts Gallery in Compton, near Guildford.

Eucharist

Poussin’s Last Supper painting purchased by The National Gallery via Acceptance in Lieu deal

26 March 2024

The National Gallery has acquired 'Eucharist' (c.1637-40), a depiction of the Last Supper, by Nicolas Poussin (1594–1664).

The Pale Complexion Of True Love (Framed)

UK dealers announce series of sales to overseas museums

25 March 2024

Several pictures and one leatherwork portrait have recently gone to institutions in the US and France.

Sarah Biffin self-portrait

Sarah Biffin self-portrait acquired by Museum of Somerset from dealer Philip Mould

16 March 2024

A self-portrait by Sarah Biffin (c.1784-1850) bought by the Museum of Somerset has recently gone on display.

Johann Sebastian Bach manuscript

‘A testament to elegance’: Bach manuscript goes to Bodleian in lieu of inheritance tax

15 March 2024

A rare autograph manuscript by composer Johann Sebastian Bach has been acquired by the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries.

Braintree hoard

Anglo-Saxon coin hoard discovered in Braintree by metal detectorists comes to auction

15 February 2024

An impressive group of Anglo-Saxon pennies, found by metal detectorists near Braintree in Essex, will be offered in separate lots at Noonans.

Bayeux embroidery replica

Bayeux Museum buys Victorian replica of the famous tapestry from the collection of Rolling Stones drummer

31 January 2024

The Bayeux Museum in France has bought a life-size Victorian replica of the Bayeux tapestry from the Charlie Watts sale.

Vénus de Milo

Louvre buys Vénus de Milo cast at auction

30 January 2024

The Louvre Museum has used its pre-emption right to successfully secure a 19th century cast of the Vénus de Milo at Artcurial.

Hiawatha’s Marriage

New auction records for under-represented artists as museums show purchasing power

29 January 2024

The desire by top museums to buy works by under-represented groups, including women and minority ethnic artists, has led to two new auction records in the US.

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