Art Fund Helped Develop UK’s Public Collection

Art Fund, the Non-Profit Organization With Focus on Helping Art Institutions, Help With UK's Public Collections Development.

Jun 23, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Art Fund
The National Portrait Gallery. Via Wikipedia


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

Portrait of Omai
Joshua Reynolds’s Portrait of Omai on the move at Tate Britain. Photo: Matthew Fearn – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images.


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”.


dora carrington famous artworks
Left Self Portrait by Dora Carrington, c. 1910, National Portrait Gallery, London, via Art UK


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

carrington lytton strachey painting
Lytton Strachey by Dora Carrington, 1916, via National Portrait Gallery, London


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.


pauline boty scandal 63 michael ward photograph
Pauline Boty and Scandal ’63 (lost), photographed by Michael Ward, 1964, via National Portrait Gallery, London


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.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.