Ashmolean secures funds to acquire Turner masterpiece

Following a public appeal, the museum is set to acquire The High Street, Oxford.

JMW Turner, The High Street, Oxford, 1810 © Ashmolean Museum

JMW Turner, The High Street, Oxford, 1810


© Ashmolean Museum

Last month, the Ashmolean Museum launched a fundraising appeal to secure one of Turner’s most stunning and technically brilliant views of Oxford: The High Street, Oxford. Today, the museum has announced that it has raised the funds to secure the masterpiece.

The High Street, Oxford has been on loan to the museum since 1997 and was then offered to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax. It is worth £3.5m – more than the value of the inheritance tax – and the museum needed to raise £860,000 to acquire the work. Following the support of the Art Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Friends and Patrons of the Ashmolean, there was a £60,000 gap that the museum needed to raise.

Thanks to the donations of the local people and museum visitors, the Ashmolean met its target in just four weeks. Dr Alexander Sturgis, director of the Ashmolean, said: 'The Museum has been overwhelmed by public support. With well over 800 people contributing to the appeal, it is clear that the local community, as well as visitors to the Museum from across the world, feel that this picture, the greatest painting of the city ever made, must remain on show in a public museum in Oxford.'

“The Museum has been overwhelmed by public support.”

  • Dr Alexander Sturgis
  • Director of the Ashmolean

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: 'Congratulations to the Ashmolean on the success of their fundraising appeal. It would have been such a tragedy to lose this beautiful and important work by Turner – and clearly the public felt the same. We’re proud to stand alongside everyone who contributed generously to make this happen.'

Over the summer, the painting will remain on display in the museum’s welcome space. There are also big plans for the work's future. To ensure that as many people as possible see The High Street, Oxford from the nearby area, the painting will be lent to regional museums. It will also be the centrepiece of a new series of educational activities for schools and young people and will have the pride of place in Ashmolean’s 19th-century gallery, which will be refurbished and reopened in early 2016.

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