The ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund

The ACE/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 and is managed by the V&A as part of its national work. The grants budget for 2016/17 is £750,000.

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

National map crop

Recent acquisitons

Norwich Castle Museum was able to buy Dragon Boy I by David Reekie, not only because he is a local maker with an international reputation but also because it connects with the Snap Dragon which has been part of Norwich history for nearly six hundred years. The dragon is represented by a colourful costume worn by a young man and was used in religious and civic processions celebrating Saint George from the 14th up until the early 20th century, reflecting the historical importance in the city of the Guild of St George. Dragon Boy I will join a full-sized historical Snap model, a smaller useable replica, and a Snap costume already in the museum's collection.

Dragon Boy I by David Reekie, 2011. Norwich Castle Museum. © Norfolk Museums Service

The Gallery of Costume at Platt Hall in Manchester bought a dress and jacket by Elsa Schaparelli at auction. Although this copy was owned by Mrs Carol Dugdale, the same model was chosen by Wallis Simpson as part of her wedding trousseaux.

Other recently successful acquisitions include:

  • Military General Service medal (with Ciudad Rodrigo clasp) to Thomas Dimmock, 9th Light Dragoons, 1847 bought by the 9th/12th Lancers Regimental Museum, Derby.
  • The painting, The Devil’s Bridge Waterfall, Aberystwyth, Wales by John Piper, acquired by Powys Museum Service, Llandrindod Wells.
  • The Sparke Cup, 1672-3, presented in 1680 to John Sparke MP, purchased by Plymouth City Museums & Art Gallery.
  • The Thomas Manning archive, 1790-1840 bought by first-time applicant, the Royal Asiatic Society in London.

Grants given

How to apply for a Purchase Grant

Two Cows by Eric Ravilious. Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden. © The Fry Art Gallery


To receive support, organisations must first meet the ACE/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.

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. Objects to be commissioned from makers or 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 Grants for the Arts scheme or scientific or technological material which are the remit of the PRISM Fund.


  • The budget for 2016-17 is £750,000.
  • 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 £5 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.

Useful documents

The application process

Applicants 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, applicants must discuss potential applications with Fund staff immediately. Do not wait until the other details are confirmed.
  • An application form will be sent electronically after the initial discussion.
  • Applications may be submitted 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. Applicants must therefore argue the significance of the proposed purchase in the context of their permanent collections as strongly as possible.

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

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