Purchase Grant Fund: About the Fund

Alan Ayckbourn stage directions

Alan Ayckbourn stage directions

The V&A Purchase Grant Fund is managed by the V&A as part of its national work. The grants budget, which is £750,000 for 2013/14, is provided by Arts Council England.

The Fund supports the purchase of a wide range material for the permanent collections of non-nationally funded organisations in England and Wales. Recent grants include a collection of photographs by Erich Retzlaff (School of Art Collections, Aberystwyth University), a Viking hoard from Barrow-in-Furness (Barrow-in-Furness Museum), a drawing by Stanley Spencer (Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham) and a collection of poems by Philip Larkin and Stevie Smith (Hull University Library).

The University of York’s Borthwick Institute acquired the archive of playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn, which includes a sheet of stage directions. In addition to being a teaching resource for university courses in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television, the original stage sketches, working manuscripts, plot diagrams and correspondence will be the focus of a major outreach programme to include curriculum enrichment sessions for young people and a suite of online resources to support A and AS level teaching.

Demand is always very strong and funds are allocated to enable as many acquisitions as possible to be made. Each year the Fund considers about 150 applications and enables acquisitions of nearly £3 million to go ahead.
The Fund, run by the V&A since 1881, retains an interest in the organisations and objects it supports and collections they join and ensures that the terms of grant offer continue to be met.

Installing The Great Picture at Abbot Hall

Installing The Great Picture at Abbot Hall

Grant-aided acquisitons continue to have an impact many years after they join collections:

  • In 1981 Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal acquired  The Great Picture, a triptych commissioned by Lady Anne Clifford in 1646 and the painting was displayed at Appleby Castle, until it closed to the public. It was then brought to Abbot Hall, where initially only the side panels were on display, as the central panel was too large for the gallery doors. In 2011, with much ingenuity on the part of the gallery’s team, the central panel was craned in through a window and the complete triptych is now on show for all to enjoy.
The Polar medal at the South Pole

The Polar medal at the South Pole


  • In 1985 support from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund enabled the Museum of the Royal Dragoon Guards, York to buy the Polar Medal awarded to Captain Lawrence Oates and presented to his mother after his death in 1912. To commemorate the centenary of Oates’ death, the medal was taken to the South Pole by two 2 Army Teams. The Scott team arrived at the South Pole on 17 January 2012, 100 years to the day that Oates arrived with Scott. The medal is now safely back on display in York.

Grants given

Download: Grants given in 2013-14 (PDF file, 82 KB)

Download: Grants given in 2012-13 (PDF file, 61.9 KB)

Download: Grants given in 2011-12 (PDF file, 70 KB)

Download: Grants given in 2010-11 (PDF file, 74.9 KB)

All enquiries and requests for forms should be directed to the V&A's National section:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 2536
E-mail: purchasegrantfund@vam.ac.uk

Find out how to apply for a grant

Find out more about the V&A’s National activities

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