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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Bedford Museum secures £850,000 Burges gem

28 February 2011

THE Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum have secured this unique piece of furniture at a price of £850,000.

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Reunited after 200 years

20 September 2010

THANKS to a clever bit of detective work by one of its curators, the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle has been able to reunite a porcelain cup and saucer that have separated for over 200 years.

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Wallis of Louth heads home

29 April 2010

IN his day the work of the Lincolnshire woodcarver Thomas Wilkinson Wallis (1822-1903), who set up business in Louth in 1843, was favourably compared with that of the most famous English woodcarver of all, Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721).

London Jewish Museum scoops Chagall for £26,000

18 January 2010

THE London Jewish Museum of Art (the Ben Uri Gallery) have announced that they have purchased a crucifixion by Marc Chagall for what they believe to be a fraction of its real value at a Paris auction.

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Museums launch appeal to buy Anglo-Saxon hoard

07 December 2009

THE two museums hoping to provide a home for the Staffordshire hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold will be asking arts charities and other funding bodies to pay for it.

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Love triumphs as Ashmolean acquire £1m Titian tondo

29 June 2009

WHILE £50m was finally raised in February to keep the Duke of Sutherland's Titian painting Diana and Actaeon in the UK, an attempt to raise a further £50m by 2012 for the Duke's Diana and Callisto is already underway.

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Netsuke collection goes to Liverpool

17 November 2008

Liverpool World Museum’s Japanese holdings have been given a significant boost by the donation of 128 netsuke. The gift represents around half the collection of the late Jonas G Gadelius donated by his widow Gabita.

Tate’s £63.1m in gifts for 2007/8

22 September 2008

The Tate announced a record year for acquisitions in their 2007/8 Annual Report. The Tate Collection aquired 494 works, valued at £63.1m, of which 320 were gifts and bequests from collectors and artists.

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British Library wins unique key to medieval English heraldry

15 September 2008

The British Library has secured the oldest surviving roll of arms in English history after a successful fundraising effort to keep it in the UK. The Dering Roll dates from the last quarter of the 13th century and depicts 324 coats of arms, approximately a quarter of the English baronage during the time of Edward I, making it a vital record for the study of heraldry in medieval England.

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Wartime treat that takes the biscuit

11 August 2008

This Carrs of Carlisle biscuit tin looks like pretty much any other Christmas biscuit tin from 1941 – except that it happens to be unopened.

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Canterbury Quadrant finds new home at BM

30 June 2008

AN historic and important medieval scientific instrument, known as the Canterbury Quadrant, has been saved for the nation. St James’s specialist dealers Trevor Philip and Sons have sold the quadrant to the British Museum for £411,250.

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Louvre acquire ‘withdrawn’ royal French jewel

29 April 2008

The Louvre have secured the return of a French Crown Jewel after 121 years, through a private sale with Christie’s New York.

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V&A acquire Godwin vases

02 April 2008

Kensington Church Street dealer Paul Reeves did a double-take at Sotheby’s earlier this month. As well as curating their March 20 mixed-owner decorative arts sale titled The Best of British, he also mounted a week-long selling exhibition of his own stock under the same title in their Bond Street Galleries.

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Charity shop bargain unveiled as Edinburgh rarity after 40 years

17 March 2008

IT’S the sort of find that every dealer dreams of – a unique and valuable antique lying unrecognised and just waiting to be snapped up.

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Bookcase returns home to Lancaster

05 February 2008

A particularly impressive and well-provenanced example of cabinetmaking by the celebrated firm Gillows of Lancaster has returned home.

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Another treasure from the Oxford terrace

28 January 2008

Dukes have negotiated the sale to the nation of two major Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Music by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones and Hamlet and Ophelia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti were found in the Oxfordshire home of the late Jean Preston that also yielded two panels from the San Marco altarpiece by Fra Angelico sold by the Dorchester auctioneers last year for £1.7m.

Future of Frink archive in doubt

12 November 2007

THE closure of Sherborne House in Dorset leaves a question mark over the future of the Elizabeth Frink Archive, the premier assemblage of the sculptor’s work.

Percival David collection moves to British Museum

12 November 2007

A FUNDING crisis means the Percival David Foundation collection of Chinese ceramics will move from the University of London’s School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) to the British Museum.

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Dadd sketch heads for the Met in New York

29 October 2007

ART dealer Andrew Sim has sold a watercolour by Richard Dadd (1817-1886) to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. It is the first work by the enigmatic Victorian artist to enter the museum’s vast art collection.

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Aphrodite to return to Red House

23 July 2007

Soon after marrying his young wife Jane, William Morris commissioned his friend Philip Webb to build them a house. The end result, completed in 1859, was Red House, named after its steep red-tiled roof.

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