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 2023/24 is £725,000.

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 100 applications and enables acquisitions of around £3 million to go ahead.

Three stained glass panels each containing a person
Faith, Hope and Charity, stained glass window, designed by Wilhelmina Geddes, made by Charles Blakeman, 1956 originally installed in St Paul's Church, Battersea. © The Stained Glass Museum

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.

Supported using public funding by: V&A, National Lottery, Arts Council England

Recent acquisitions

The Barnetby Bull Rider, a complete bucket escutcheon in the form of a female figure riding a combined bull and avian figure, is a rare find and is of regional importance. Found at Barnetby le Wold by a detectorist in 2020, it was recorded as treasure under the Portable Antiquity Scheme, and acquired by North Lincolnshire Museum in 2022. Its display will contribute to the museum's aim to illustrate the county's rich and fascinating history of craftmanship from the Late Iron Age and Roman period.

It is thought that the Barnetby Bull Rider may be a representation of the mythological story of Europa and the Bull. In the myth, Europa is seduced by the god Zeus in the form of a bull. Europa and the Bull is a fairly common motif drawn from mythology and used across the Classical world. Europa is often depicted riding the bull and holding one of its horns.

North Lincolnshire Museum
Green stone figure of a person riding a bull. One hand is in the air, the other is on the bull's horn
The Barnetby Bull Rider, a complete bucket escutcheon in the form of a female figure riding a combined bull and avian figure. © North Lincolnshire Museum

With support of the fund, Vanishing Point 24 (Mignard) by Barbara Walker was purchased by Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex. Exploring ideas of power, visibility, and erasure, this contemporary artwork addresses the underrepresentation of Black figures in Western art history and particularly in public collections.

The acquisition promotes inclusivity and offers the Gallery the opportunity to engage with more diverse audiences. It supports new and critical reinterpretations of the collection to ensure that they can present a narrative of British art from a contemporary perspective, representative of the wider community. The artwork references the painting Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth with an unknown female attendant by Pierre Mignard, 1682 in the National Portrait Gallery collection. By placing the focus onto the little girl, Walker's work brings the lives of Black subjects to the forefront, inviting the viewer to look again at what is overlooked or hidden.

Sketch of a young girl wearing a dress, holding coral and a shell. In the paper is the imprint of a woman with her arm around the girl
Vanishing Point 24 (Mignard), by Barbara Walker. © Pallant House Gallery

How to apply for a Purchase Grant

Who can apply?

Museums, galleries, record repositories and specialist libraries in England and Wales which are not funded by central government and who maintain a permanent collection in suitable conditions for public benefit can apply for a Purchase Grant.

As a minimum requirement, museums and galleries should be accredited under the Arts Council England scheme and record repositories be accredited under the Archive Service Accreditation Scheme, or have formal "working towards" status.

You may be asked to complete an eligibility questionnaire in addition to an application.

Abstract painting featuring a man, houses and trees, in yellows, greens, blues, oranges
Newborn, by Rigby Graham, 1959. © Leicester Museums & Galleries

What is supported?

Objects, collections or archives of any date relating to the arts, literature or history are supported. This includes archaeological and ethnographical material, objects illustrating social and popular culture, decorative and fine art, rare books, documents and letters with good historical content, maps, writers' manuscripts and archival photographs.

The Fund is unable to consider items to be commissioned from artists and makers, or scientific or technological material.

Funding allocation

  • The budget for 2023/24 is £725,000
  • The minimum purchase price is £500 and the maximum £500,000
  • The maximum grant is 50% of the purchase price
  • No applicant is likely to receive more than £50,000 in any one financial 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.

The application process

In the first instance please contact the Purchase Grant Fund office with a brief description of your proposed purchase.

If the item is to be sold at auction, it is essential that you contact us as soon as possible.

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

We will send you a link to the online application portal 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. We want museums to be able to provide a more accurate, balanced and inclusive interpretation of their collections, therefore becoming more relevant and sustainable as a result. We will therefore look to support acquisitions which enable you to better reflect and respond to audiences through your collections.

Four frames on a wall, featuring sepia photographs of floors and tiles
Below the Salt, group of four photographs, by Catherine Bertola, 2020. © Temple Newsam (Leeds Museums and Galleries)

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

Grants committed to museums, galleries and archives each financial year: