The Art Fund welcomes Dumfries House opening

  • 6 June 2008

The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity, welcomes the opening of Dumfries House, which can now be seen by the public for the first time in 250 years. It will be officially opened today (Friday 6 June) by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and The First Minister of Scotland.

His Royal Highness and The First Minister will be joined by the first 30 paying visitors to see the House and its unique contents, which includes an original collection of Chippendale furniture. Less than a year after it was saved from being sold and its contents dispersed, it can now be seen as a ‘work in progress’ guided tour.

Dumfries House was the focus of a dramatic rescue last year by a consortium of arts organisations, led by SAVE Britain’s Heritage and The Art Fund, who pledged £2.25m – its largest ever grant. Other major contributors include The Monument Trust, National Heritage Memorial Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation and the Scottish government. The campaign finally succeeded when HRH The Prince of Wales, through the Prince’s Charities Foundation, responded extraordinarily generously to the challenge of saving this wonderful collection with a loan of £20m.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: “It is wonderful that the Trust, in the space of just six months, has been able to turn this unique time capsule of the Scottish Enlightenment into a public visitor attraction. It is an exciting new chapter and, after 250 years, the public will at last be able to see the House and discover why it was so vital for us to save it. The Art Fund played a crucial role in the campaign, and we look forward to Dumfries House taking its place on the list of un-missable places to visit in the UK.”

To protect the fabric of the building and its contents, access will be by pre-booked guided tours. Tickets can be arranged by telephone on 01290 551111 or by an on-line booking request form on

Situated in Cumnock, East Ayrshire, Dumfries House is one of the most important Georgian houses in the UK. Dating from the time of the Scottish Enlightenment it contains an outstanding collection of untouched 18th century furniture selected specifically for the House at the time it was built, including pieces by Thomas Chippendale and his Scottish contemporaries William Matthie, Alexander Peter and Francis Brodie.

To read an interview with Michael Schafer, Chief Executive of Dumfries House Trust, please click here


Notes for editors:

1. The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections. Recent achievements include: helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; putting together a unique funding package to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit

2. Breakdown of contributions from individual bodies:
? The Monument Trust - £9m
? The National Heritage Memorial Fund - £7m
? The Scottish government - £5m
? The Art Fund - £2.25m
? The Garfield Weston Foundation - £1m
? Sir Siegmund Warburg's Voluntary Settlement - £250,000
? The Dunard Fund - $250,000

3. An independent charitable body, The Great Steward’s Dumfries House Trust, was established to organise the presentation and maintenance of the House. For further information please visit