The ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund

The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund supports the purchase of a wide range of material for the permanent collections of non-nationally funded organisations in England and Wales.

About the Purchase Grant Fund

The Fund is provided by Arts Council England Lottery funding and is managed by the V&A as part of its national work. The grants budget for 2018/19 is £724,000.

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 around £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 the grant offer continue to be met.

Explore acquisitions supported by the Purchase Grant Fund on the V&A National interactive map

Recent acquisitons

Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s acquisition of Earth by Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA), 2010 enables the gallery to reach out to new audiences, particularly Black and Asian communities which make up a large proportion of the city’s population, and make the collection more relevant to communities and reflect their experiences.

Earth provides a powerful focal point for discussion around race and culture as well as wider themes connected to global warming and the impact of industrialisation since the 19th century. It contributes to the gallery’s ambition to bring work of international quality to the people of the city so that they do not have to travel to the capital or other major UK cities to benefit from great art and culture.

Earth by Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA), 2010. Wolverhampton Art Gallery © Wolverhapton Art Gallery

A major grant enabled Fairfax House, York to acquire an important early carving by Grinling Gibbons. The panel, which was made in York very early in Gibbon’s career, has connections to the Yorkshire Barwick and Fairfax families and is a vital piece of the jigsaw in the understanding of the development of arguably England’s greatest carver. It joins the outstanding collection of 17th and 18th century decorative arts at Fairfax House and enables the House to discuss the role of the city of York in nurturing talent and creativity in the long 18th century.

King David playing a harp and Saint Cecilia playing an organ, boxwood panel by Grinling Gibbons, c.1668-1670. Fairfax House, York. © Fairfax House

Grants given

How to apply for a Purchase Grant


To receive support, organisations must first meet the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund's eligibility criteria. The minimum requirement is that museums are accredited under the Arts Council England scheme and record repositories be accredited under the Archive Service Accreditation Scheme, or working towards it.

Organisations are assessed when an application is first made and continue to be monitored.

Dudu Parktown by Zanele Muholi, 2016. Bristol’s Museums, Galleries and Archives © Bristol City Council

Material of any date relating to arts and culture is eligible for support: archaeological and ethnographical material; objects illustrating social and popular culture, decorative and fine art; rare books; documents and letters with good historical content, estate maps, writers' manuscripts and archival photographs. Items to be bought at auction are also eligible.

The Fund is unable to consider items to be commissioned from artists and makers, as these fall under the remit of the Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants or or scientific or technological material


  • The budget for 2018 – 19 is £724,000
  • The minimum purchase price is £500 and the maximum £500,000
  • Grants may be up to 50% of the purchase price, though it is unlikely that any organisation will receive more than £50,000 in any one year
  • There is no limit to the number of applications which may be submitted
  • Local financial commitment is essential. Up to £10 of grant aid may be given for each £1 of locally raised funding. The balance may be sought from other grant giving bodies which operate nationally
Gold posy ring from Bodmin. Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro. © British Museum

Useful documents

The application process

You must discuss the potential purchase with Fund staff so that the likely demand on the Fund's limited resources can be monitored and tailored advice may be offered.

  • If the item is to be sold at auction, it is essential that you discuss potential applications with Fund staff immediately. Do not wait until the other details are confirmed.
  • We will send you an application form electronically after the initial discussion.
  • You may submit an application at any time and decisions are normally given within 4 weeks of receiving all necessary information; larger purchases are considered within 2 months.
  • Resources are limited and not all deserving cases will be successful. You must therefore argue the significance of the proposed purchase in the context of your permanent collections as strongly as possible.

Contact for all enquiries and requests for forms:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 2536