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.


Portrait of a Girl by Isaack Luttichuys

National Gallery acquires fourth picture from late art patron via tax scheme

20 April 2021

The National Gallery has taken ownership of a portrait by Isaack Luttichuys (1616-73), the first work by the artist to enter a British public collection.

Artemisia Gentileschi Lucretia

Californian museum acquires Artemisia Gentileschi’s ‘record’ Lucretia picture

08 April 2021

The J Paul Getty Museum has acquired a work by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593- c.1654) that had previously sold for a record auction price in 2019.

Tamara Karsavina painting

‘Mother of modern British ballet’ portrait sold at Christie’s and donated to Royal Academy of Dance

31 March 2021

A portrait of the 'mother of modern British ballet’ will go on public display this autumn after dance enthusiasts rallied round to bid at auction.

Snail man object

Museums buy more Treasure finds as metal detecting discoveries soar

23 March 2021

Artefacts found buried in the ground by metal detectors across the UK has yet again increased Treasure finds allowing museums to boost their collections.

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Seal gave status to illegitimate offspring

22 March 2021

A wax seal matrix bought at auction by National Museums Scotland has revealed how James V of Scotland (1512-42) treated one of his illegitimate sons.

Wax seal matrix

Rare Scottish Stewart seal saved for nation

18 March 2021

A wax seal matrix bought at auction by National Museums Scotland has revealed how James V of Scotland (1512-42) treated one of his illegitimate sons.

Portrait of a Gentleman by Isaac Oliver

Portrait miniatures head to Compton Verney from the estate of the late Lady Grantchester

04 March 2021

A group of rare portrait miniatures has been gifted to the Warwickshire art gallery and country house Compton Verney.

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Mail robber’s candid story of seduction and smuggling will go on museum display

01 March 2021

A rare, candid autobiographical account by a soon-to-be-executed 18th century brickmaker has been bought by Horsham Museum.

Breguet Four Minute Tourbillon watch

Rare George III watch barred from leaving country in hope it can be bought by a UK buyer

03 February 2021

A £2m pocket watch once owned by George III has been temporarily blocked from export to give a UK institution the chance to purchase it.

Armada map

Saved for the nation: Armada maps are bought with help from Antiques Trade Gazette

01 February 2021

Armada maps stay in UK after ATG story inspires campaign

One of 10 rare maps depicting the Spanish Armada

Armada maps saved for the nation after Navy museum secures funding from grants and the public

28 January 2021

A group of hand-drawn Armada maps depicting a key moment in England’s history have been saved after a fundraising campaign by the Royal Navy museum.

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Royal Medical Service hopes to raise £15,500 to secure medicine cabinet linked to Lord Nelson’s surgeon Sir William Beatty

21 January 2021

Members of the Royal Medical Service hope to raise funding to purchase a medicine cabinet that has been linked to Lord Nelson’s surgeon Sir William Beatty.

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London dealers sell 12th dynasty Egyptian relief to German museum

13 January 2021

An Egyptian polychrome painted limestone relief from the 12th dynasty has been bought by the State Museum of Egyptian Art in Munich, Germany.

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Books by Jane Austen’s favourite poet return home to Chawton House

11 January 2021

Chawton House has bought a rare first edition of Poems by Jane Austen’s favourite poet, William Cowper, which was once owned by her brother.

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News In Brief – including a London dealer selling an important Thomas Hardy archive

11 January 2021

A round-up of art and antiques news from the previous seven days, including London dealer Maggs Bros selling a Thomas Hardy archive to a Dorset museum.

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Dorset museum raises funds to secure Thomas Hardy archive from London book dealer

07 January 2021

The Dorset Archives Trust (DAT) has raised the final £5000 needed to purchase a collection of important manuscript and printed material once owned by novelist and poet Thomas Hardy (1840-1928).

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West Sussex museum buys Edwardian designs for local church windows from London dealer

30 December 2020

Horsham Museum and Art Gallery has bought a presentation watercolour for three stained glass windows in local church St Peter’s in Cowfold from London dealers Abbott and Holder.

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Nimrod expedition sledge and flag head to UK institutions

21 December 2020

A sledge and flag from the first expedition to the Antarctic led by Ernest Shackleton have been saved for the nation.

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Record year for Acceptance in Lieu schemes with £65m artworks accepted for the nation

21 December 2020

A record amount of paintings, antiques and historic objects were saved for the nation in lieu of tax in 2020, with £65m of objects accepted.

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Austrian artist’s rare auction appearance

21 December 2020

A group of works by the elusive Austrian émigré artist Marie-Louise von Motesiczky (1906-96) made a rare appearance at Chiswick Auctions’ (25% buyer’s premium) latest British & European Fine Art sale.

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