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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Museum buys memorial plaque of Great War’s ‘first black officer’

14 November 2020

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum (Royal Warwickshire) has bought a First World War ‘dead man’s penny’ memorial plaque.

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Stanley Spencer Gallery acquires the artist's last known self-portrait drawing

09 November 2020

The last known drawn self-portrait of Modern British artist Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) has been acquired by the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham.

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Jasper Johns US flag artwork donated to the British Museum

04 November 2020

Jasper Johns’ screenprint 'Flags I' will be on display at the British Museum after the million-dollar artwork was donated to the institution.

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Public cash call to help keep Armada maps in the UK

03 November 2020

The National Museum of the Royal Navy hopes to raise £600,000 to stop the export of a group of hand-drawn Armada maps to an overseas buyer.

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Venetian abbey buys northern Renaissance devotional oil

19 October 2020

Turin dealership Caretto & Occhinegro Gallery has sold a previously unpublished oil by Jan Matsys (c.1510-75) to the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.

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It moss be love: naturalist’s album bought by museum

19 October 2020

At a recent PBFA fair, dealer John Underwood sold a collection of albums of mosses compiled by the naturalist Frederick DuCane Godman (1834-1919) to Horsham Museum & Art Gallery.

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Pre-emptions: stepping in at the fall of the gavel

19 October 2020

Pre-emption, the right of a French museum or institution to step in at the fall of the gavel to claim a lot at auctions staged in France for purchase at the hammer price, is a common occurence in such sales.

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Getty Museum buys 39 Dutch drawings from private collector

15 October 2020

A group of Dutch drawings put together by a collector over a number of years has been acquired by the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

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Bawden’s decimal coin design makes a Mint

28 September 2020

Edward Bawden (1903-89) was one of a number of artists invited to submit designs ahead of Britain’s changeover to decimal coinage. Designs were invited for six coins: the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p pieces.

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Fitzwilliam Museum acquires European masterpieces from the estate of banker George Pinto

26 September 2020

Cambridge University's Fitzwilliam Museum has acquired three paintings for the nation from the estate of George Pinto (1929- 2018).

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Courtauld acquires rare Gauguin manuscript through acceptance in lieu scheme

25 September 2020

A rare illustrated manuscript by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) has been acquired by The Courtauld through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme.

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British Museum buys collection of 103 Hokusai drawings rediscovered in Paris

05 September 2020

More than 100 rediscovered works by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) have been acquired by the British Museum.

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Elisabeth Frink's Royal Academy diploma withdrawn from auction and donated to Dorset History Centre

31 August 2020

Among the contents of the home of the late Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-93) and later her son, Lin Jammet (1958-2017), offered at auction last week, was the sculptor’s Royal Academy diploma.

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The Magic Circle reunited with lost copy of the earliest known English book on performing magic

26 August 2020

The 16th century book 'The Discoverie of Witchcraft' by Reginald Scot is the earliest known book in English explaining how to perform magic.

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Dealer’s kitchen antiques collection finds new home

24 August 2020

A vast collection of Victorian kitchen antiques formed by a dealer from Kent has found a new home in North Yorkshire.

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Texas museum boosts Spanish art collection with five acquisitions from Madrid gallery

20 August 2020

De la Mano Gallery in Madrid has sold five works to The Meadows Museum in Dallas, Texas.

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Dealers sell Egyptian statue from Thomas Cook collection to City of Leicester for £150,000

17 August 2020

An ancient Egyptian granite statue has been sold to the City of Leicester from the collection of travel business Thomas Cook in a deal negotiated by London dealers Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch.

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Film producer buys Seacole bust for 101 times the estimate

10 August 2020

A terracotta sculpture of Mary Seacole (1805-81) sparked fierce competition at Dominic Winter.

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Bust of British-Jamaican Crimean War heroine Mary Seacole sells for £101,000 at auction and heads to Nightingale Museum

04 August 2020

A terracotta sculpture of Mary Seacole (1805-81), who nursed dying and wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, will go on display in the Florence Nightingale Museum after it was sold at auction last week.

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Archaeological discoveries made by the public reach 1.5 million

09 July 2020

The number of archaeological objects unearthed by the British public since the start of The British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has reached 1.5 million items.

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