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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Rivals raise the stakes over South African art

13 February 2015

Bonhams throw down the gauntlet at Irma Stern Museum after Strauss & Co's China Girl TV stunt

Bern accepts Gurlitt bequest: disputed works to be returned

01 December 2014

The Kunstmuseum Bern’s announcement that it would accept the Gurlitt bequest (aside from any Nazi-looted art) has been followed by a pledge by Germany’s culture minister to return the disputed Matisse and other works to the families of their original owners.

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Fox Talbot archive goes to Bodleian Library after appeal brings success

27 October 2014

The Bodleian Library in Oxford has bought the personal archive of William Henry Fox Talbot, the British ‘founder of photography’, after a successful appeal.

Wedgwood archive saved as appeal hits £2.74m target

03 October 2014

It has taken just over a month for the Art Fund’s £2.74m appeal to save the Wedgwood Collection to reach its target. It will now be gifted to the V&A but will stay in situ at the Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston, near Stoke.

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V&A secures Egyptian revival cabinet

27 August 2014

This Egyptian revival medal cabinet, considered one of the finest pieces of French Empire furniture in Britain, has been ‘saved for the nation’ after a campaign by the Victoria & Albert Museum was successful in raising £534,000.

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Fitzwilliam Museum buys Coalport jug at Agricultural Society auction

25 July 2014

A massive Coalport Feldspar porcelain jug painted with a study of Earl Spencer’s Durham Ox in a parkland setting has been bought by the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

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V&A launch a Rapid Response to contemporary collecting

30 May 2014

A pair of Primark jeans, a 3D-printed gun and Katy Perry branded fake eyelashes are just a few of the objects that will go on display in a new gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum this summer.

Gurlitt hoard bequest shock

27 May 2014

The Kunstmuseum Bern has called the huge art bequest by Cornelius Gurlitt a “bolt from the blue, since at no time has Mr Gurlitt had any connection with” the museum.

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Maple cabinet with intriguing artistic collaboration

12 May 2014

Mystery surrounds the origin of a maple cabinet designed by Edward William Godwin and painted by James Abbott McNeill Whistler which has been bought by National Museums Scotland (NMS).

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Real interest in a Surrealist Scot

26 March 2014

EXHIBITION – Edwin G. Lucas is not a name familiar to most, nor is the phrase ‘Scottish Surrealist’.

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Salisbury Museum declare bid for newly discovered Bronze Age hoard

20 March 2014

Salisbury Museum is hoping to host a remarkable hoard of Bronze Age jewellery in a new gallery set to open this summer.

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New owners for Agnew’s as National Gallery buy archive

10 March 2014

Just over a year since closing its Albemarle Street gallery, the long-established London art dealership Agnew’s has been acquired by new owners.

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Bellows paves the way for US artists at the National Gallery

24 February 2014

The purchase of a George Bellows painting has signalled a major change in policy at the National Gallery, ending 190 years of showing only European artists.

Van Dyck given more time

24 February 2014

The fundraising campaign to buy Van Dyck’s final self-portrait for the National Portrait Gallery will continue into the summer.

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£1.3m purchase of unique 15th century survivor

07 January 2014

The British Museum and Wiltshire Museum have bought the Lacock Cup, a silver chalice made in the first half of the 15th century, for £1.3m.

Chinese art collection for Ashmolean

23 December 2013

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has been given an important private collection of modern and contemporary Chinese art.

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Galleries gain Freud's Constable

04 November 2013

This John Constable (1776-1837) portrait has been acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland from the estate of the artist Lucian Freud (1922-2011) through the Government’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme.

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Lowther casket goes to Bowes Museum

04 November 2013

An 18th century casket made from fragments of Chinese porcelain has been bought by the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham.

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Vendor’s tax deal proves a gift to museum too

12 August 2013

An English provincial museum has been able to acquire an export-stopped Old Master painting for a knockdown price of £1.61m thanks to the vendor striking a tax deal.

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Rediscovered Japanese coffer sells to Rijksmuseum at £5m

09 July 2013

An exceptional piece of 17th century Japanese export lacquer with a provenance to match has produced the highest auction price in France this year when it was sold to the Rijksmuseum for a hammer price of €5.9m (£5.26m).

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