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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Saved from a skip, Ault pattern book on display at DresserFest

08 June 2015

A previously unpublished book of ceramic designs that could shed new light on the work of Dr Christopher Dresser goes on public view for the first time during a three-day festival celebrating the life and work of the Victorian designer.

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Ashmolean launches campaign to secure Turner’s view of Oxford

05 June 2015

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has launched a public campaign to raise the funds needed to secure JMW Turner's The High Street, Oxford.

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Museum acquires Dickens’ desk

21 April 2015

The writing desk and chair used by Charles Dickens as he penned a number of his later classics have been bought by a museum based at the author’s former central London home.

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New blacklist threat for deaccessioning museums

09 April 2015

A fresh warning has gone out to UK museums and galleries that they could face future funding cuts if they sell items from their collections.

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Dulwich pays tribute to Ravilious as Jerwood turns spotlight on Burra

24 February 2015

Dulwich Picture Gallery have announced a major exhibition dedicated to Eric Ravilious (1903-42) from April 1 until August 31.

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Syndicate deal frees Wolsey Angels for sale

18 February 2015

The parties caught in a conundrum over proper title to two of the recently rediscovered Wolsey Angels have formed an extraordinary syndicate to resolve the issue.

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Michelangelo claim: there’s more to come say Fitzwilliam

16 February 2015

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge have promised to reveal more evidence backing the attribution to Michelangelo of a pair of bronze figures of two nude males riding panthers.

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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.

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