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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Artist Sarah Biffin in double spotlight

04 April 2022

Self-portrait sold to National Portrait Gallery by dealer who also plans an exhibition

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Rome gallery makes Bourbon drawing sale to Hamburg museum

04 April 2022

Antonacci Lapiccirella Fine Art of Rome has sold a pencil drawing depicting Maria Luisa de Bourbon to The Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Hogarth's Walpole

Public appeal for £25,000 to buy Hogarth’s Horace Walpole portrait for Strawberry Hill museum

24 March 2022

The Strawberry Hill Trust is appealing for public donations to buy a painting by William Hogarth (1697-1784) of Horace Walpole.

William Beckford

Deathbed picture of controversial collector William Beckford bought by museum

23 March 2022

The 1844 portrait William Beckford on his Deathbed by Willes Maddox (1813-53) has been purchased by Bath Preservation Trust and will go on display at Beckford’s Tower and Museum this month.

PAN print

Museum buys PAN magazine prints

21 March 2022

California dealership Denenberg Fine Arts has sold a full set of 80 prints from the Jugendstil magazine PAN to Chicago’s Driehaus Museum.

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Walter Sickert’s way to Tipperary

14 March 2022

A patriotic Walter Sickert (1860-1942) painting bought by the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London is earmarked to be displayed among the exhibits in the new art, film and photographic galleries opening next year.

A portrait of Caroline Herschel

Bath museum buys visitor book of astronomer Caroline Herschel

09 March 2022

The Herschel Museum of Astronomy in Bath has bought Caroline Herschel’s visitor book dating from her time living near Windsor.

Carved falcon

Dealer ‘ecstatic’ as Hampton Court welcomes ‘missing’ Boleyn falcon

07 March 2022

A carved oak falcon depicting Anne Boleyn’s royal badge bought by a dealer for £75 is to go on display at Hampton Court Palace.

Renaissance roundel

Rare Renaissance roundel bought by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art after a nearly 20-year wait

24 February 2022

A rare Renaissance roundel has been bought by the Metropolitan Museum of Art nearly 20 years after its first attempt.

Bacchus bronze

Essex auction house helps in return of stolen Roman statue

09 February 2022

Essex saleroom TimeLine Auctions and a Dutch detective have worked together to return a stolen Roman statue to France after it was missing for 50 years.

Dame Magdalene Odundo

News In Brief – including news of Hepworth Wakefield buying a work by Magdalene Odundo

10 January 2022

A round-up of art and antiques news from the previous seven days, including news that Hepworth Wakefield bought a work by studio potter Magdalene Odundo.

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Museum given rare Scottish silver trio

03 January 2022

National Museums Scotland has acquired a trio of exceptionally rare Scottish silver objects created in the 1600s from the collection of Edinburgh jeweller Ron (1946-2012) and Rosemary Haggarty.

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Fundraising keeps Honresfield Library intact

03 January 2022

Successful £15.3m campaign secures British literature treasures including Brontë family manuscripts.

First Commonplace Book

Historic library connected to Brontë family saved for the nation in £15.3m purchase with help from Britain’s richest man

18 December 2021

The Honresfield Library of British Literature, containing more than 500 manuscripts, first editions and letters including works by the Brontë family, Robert Burns and Walter Scott, has been purchased by the Friends of the National Libraries for £15.3m.

Bust of Germanicus

Getty Museum buys an ‘Elgin marble’ – but not a Greek one

09 December 2021

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angles has acquired an early first-century marble bust of the Roman general Germanicus, the adopted son of the Emperor Tiberius and father of Caligula.

Elizabeth Yorke

National Trust property secures 18th-century portrait destined for auction after anonymous donor steps in

18 November 2021

A portrait by renowned society artist Thomas Hudson (1701-79) has been secured for National Trust property Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire.

Anglo Saxon coin hoard

‘Largest ever’ Anglo-Saxon coin hoard discovered in UK

08 November 2021

The largest ever Anglo-Saxon gold coin hoard discovered in the UK has been declared treasure after a complex inquest into the case.

Chippendale invoice

Chippendale-Garrick invoice sold to society

08 November 2021

A previously unknown bill for furnishings supplied by Thomas Chippendale (1718-79) has been bought at auction on behalf of The Chippendale Society (TCS).

Jacopo Bassano painting

Getty Museum acquires major Italian Old Master

30 October 2021

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has acquired a painting by Venetian artist Jacopo Bassano (c.1510-1592).

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Roman bronzes find home at Yorkshire Museum

27 October 2021

A wealthy US donor and a London antiquities dealership helped ensure a hoard of Roman bronzes recently discovered by metal detectorists will soon be on public display.

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