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.

The ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund is currently closed for applications. Future funding for the Purchase Grant Fund will be awarded from the National Lottery as part of a standardised new approach being adopted by the Arts Council. We are committed to managing the Purchase Grant Fund at the V&A and the outcome of our application to distribute the budget will be announced in early summer.

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 2017/18 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

Recent acquisitons

The Ken Hawley Collection at the Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield received its first grant from the Purchase Grant Fund when it bought a saw made by Taylor Brothers of Sheffield as a wedding gift for Prince Frederick William of Prussia (later to be Emperor Frederick III of Prussia) and Princess Victoria in 1858.

The saw is unique; no other saw achieves such a high degree of decorative design. The making of this saw brought together several distinct trades within Sheffield: saw blade cutting, profiling and setting; engraving, design and acid etching and ivory carving and is an example of the highest quality work that Sheffield makers were producing.

Back saw presented to Princess Victoria and Prince Frederick William of Prussia on their marriage, 1858. © Ken Hawley Collection Trust

Bristol Museum bought Bloom, by Michael Eden, 2016 to enable it to create new connections and contexts for historic collections, linking the Industrial Revolution (of which Bristol’s 18th century ceramics industry was a part) to that of the technological revolution of the end of the 20th century/21st century. Loosely based on the form of an early Wedgwood tureen, Eden has said that he deliberately chose to make a piece inspired by Wedgwood and the first Industrial Revolution using the 21st century technologies of what he regards as a second industrial revolution.

The piece will support the museum’s aim to inspire visitors, particularly students, to make those connections and to demonstrate how museum collections are a rich source of inspiration for today’s artists and creative entrepreneurs.

Bloom, Michael Eden, 2016. © Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives

Grants given

How to apply for a Purchase Grant


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.

Silver Poetry, Spring Fever Ring, Junko Mori, 2014. © Leeds Museum and Galleries

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 Grants for the Arts scheme or scientific or technological material which are the remit of the PRISM Fund.


  • The budget for 2017 – 18 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.
Oval composition with a red circle, Andrew Morton, about 1946. © Harris Museum and Art Gallery

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