Art Fund organization only last year managed to help the UK acquire more than 900 art pieces. To know how this non-profit accomplished this, it is enough to look at their annual last year’s report. In a report published next week, the organization brought up that they granted $10.6 million. Of the total amount, $5.7 million went towards purchase.
Art Fund’s Comeback After the Pandemic
The organization is more than a century old. For 120 years, it has been giving grants and helping galleries and museums in Britain. However, the amounts were slightly lower during the pandemic. For example, in 2019 Art Fund gave away $6 million which served for acquiring almost a thousand works.
“It has been heartening to hear from our 850+ museum and gallery partners that green shoots of optimism are emerging after a difficult few years”, said Jenny Waldman, Art Fund’s director, in a statement. “As our brilliant museum colleagues navigate their recovery from the pandemic, with the added burden of the cost-of-living crisis, our support is needed as much as ever”.
The largest part of the last year’s budget planned for the acquisition, went to Sir Joshua Reynolds‘s Portrait of Mai (1776). The artwork shows a young Tahitian who traveled to England in 1774 on a ship with James Cook, a British adventurer. London’s National Portrait Gallery and Los Angeles’s J. Paul Getty Museum acquired it this March, thanks to these funds.
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First Single Purchase Collaboration between the UK and US Art Institutions
The portrait of Mai’s acquirement was also the first single purchase collaboration between the UK and the US art institutions. Both of the aforementioned institutions contributed around half of the anticipated $62 million cost for the piece. To assist in bringing the combined effort to a successful conclusion, Art Fund came through with a donation for the NPG worth $3 million), the biggest one in its entire history.
The painting is on display since yesterday. This is also the first display in 18 years. Some notable works acquired by institutions with the aid of Art Fund funds include Joseph Wright of Derby’s Self-Portrait at the Age of About Forty (c. 1772–1743). The Derby Museum and Art Gallery purchased it.
Jananne Al-Ani’s Timelines (2022), picked up by the Victoria and Albert Museum; and Array Collective’s The Druthaib’s Ball (2021), bought by the Ulster Museum. The latter work was featured in the group’s Turner Prize-winning exhibition in 2021. “We are delighted that Art Fund has been able to support museums and advocate for the further significant investment they need”, Waldman added.