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.


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Greek marble ‘wedding present’ returned to Munich museum

18 September 2019

A Hellenistic marble stele that was received as a wedding present in the 1950s has been returned to a museum in Germany after an investigation by antiquities dealers and an Oxford scholar.

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Pick of the week: Museum wraps up sale of coveted coverlet

09 September 2019

The National Museums of Scotland has been revealed as the buyer of the Storrar Coverlet – a rare woollen textile withdrawn at the 11th hour from a sale at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh in August.

‘A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley’ by Rowland Emett

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang designer's sculpture bought by National Railway Museum in York

05 September 2019

A 26-foot long kinetic sculpture by Rowland Emett (1906-90) who designed the magical car in the eponymous 1960s film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has been sold by Bonhams for a six-figure sum to the National Railway Museum in York.

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Jane Austen letter heads home to museum

02 September 2019

Jane Austen’s House Museum in Hampshire has successfully raised the £35,000 required to buy a fragment of a letter written by the novelist in 1814. The rare manuscript was being sold on behalf of its private owner by London dealer Maggs.

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Rare late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman conquest coin hoard discovered in Somerset valued at £4m

29 August 2019

A Bath museum hopes to acquire a rare hoard of coins found in a Chew Valley field that could be valued at £4m.

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Letter by Jane Austen goes on view at museum after being acquired from Maggs

20 August 2019

Jane Austen's House Museum in Hampshire successfully raised the £35,000 required to buy a fragment of a letter written by the great novelist in 1814. The rare manuscript was being sold on behalf of its private owner by London dealer Maggs.

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De Morgan Foundation goes digital with new initiative to attract a wider audience for artists work

20 August 2019

The De Morgan Foundation is launching a series of initiatives to bring the works of Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919) and her husband William (1839-1917) to a wider audience.

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St Agatha returns to Osterley Park after nearly ninety years away

17 August 2019

A painting of the early Christian martyr St Agatha by Italian artist Carlo Dolci (1616-87) will return to Osterley Park and House in Middlesex where it once hung.

‘View on the River Seine – Morning’ by Richard Parkes Bonington

National Gallery acquires Richard Parkes Bonington painting in £600,000 tax deal

15 August 2019

A view of the River Seine by Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-28) has entered the collection of The National Gallery in London under the acceptance in lieu scheme.

Art Fund awards boost collecting cash at museums

12 August 2019

A curator of archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum in York and an assistant curator of ceramics at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent are among the winners of the Art Fund’s latest annual New Collecting Awards.

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Museum curators win funding to bolster collections including antique coins, ceramics and works on paper

07 August 2019

A curator of archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum in York and an assistant curator of ceramics at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent are among the winners of theArt Fund’s latest annual New Collecting Awards.

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Call for fundraising to keep £10m Turner painting in the UK

02 August 2019

A JMW Turner landscape valued at £10m will be exported overseas unless funding can be raised to keep it in the UK.

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Pictures by St Ives artist Peter Lanyon head to Tate, Birmingham and Liverpool museums

31 July 2019

The estate of Cornish artist Peter Lanyon’s (1918-64) widow, Sheila Lanyon, has agreed a tax deal allowing three pictures by the artist to be acquired by the nation for museums across the country.

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Charles Dickens 'lost portrait' saved for the nation

23 July 2019

A fundraising campaign has helped save a portrait of Charles Dickens (1812-70) rediscovered by dealer Philip Mould.

'Walton Bridges' by JMW Turner

Turner’s Walton Bridges heads to Norwich Castle after being saved for the nation

19 July 2019

JMW Turner’s oil painting ‘Walton Bridges’ which sold at Sotheby’s in July last year has been bought for the nation after funding was secured by Norfolk Museums Service.

Jane Austen letter

Museum appeals for final £10,000 to secure Jane Austen handwritten letter

19 July 2019

Jane Austen's House Museum in Hampshire has launched an appeal to raise the remaining funds needed to buy a fragment of a letter written by the great novelist in 1814.

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Palace of Versailles buys back €4m rococo commode from US collector

15 July 2019

A Louis XV period rococo commode made in 1744 for the Château de Versailles has returned home after more than 30 years out of France.

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Victoria and Albert Museum acquires Chippendale's Harewood House pier tables and mirrors for the nation

18 June 2019

A set of pier tables and mirrors from the Thomas Chippendale workshop has been accepted in lieu for the nation and allocated to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

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Burne-Jones sketches head to Delaware museum via Cambridge

17 June 2019

Two studies by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones for his 1868 oil Hymenaeus will soon be reunited with the finished painting.

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Getty museum buys Stoss crucifix and Joseph Wright of Derby painting

11 June 2019

The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has emerged as the buyer of two major works: Corpus Christi, a small, 15th century wooden sculpture by Veit Stoss, and Two Boys with a Bladder (1769-70), a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby.

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