Art Fund's support of UK museums and galleries tops £16m

  • 19 May 2017

We're delighted to announce significant growth to our charitable programme in 2016, which has meant even more support for the UK's museums and galleries to enrich their collections.

Today sees the publication of our annual report for 2016/17. It shows a significant increase in the total value of our charitable programme to £16.6m in 2016 (2015: £11.2m), helping museums to build their collections and funding the development of emerging curators around the country.

Highlights for the year include:

  • £4.5m grants given to museums for the purchase of works of art
  • 75% of grants to organisations outside London
  • Over 400 curators supported
  • Investment in New Collecting Awards reaches £1m
  • V&A wins £100,000 prize as Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016
  • Art Fund membership grows to 123,000 and National Art Pass Plus One launched

Art Fund chairman, Lord Smith of Finsbury, said: 'We know these are difficult times for UK museums and that, for many, the future looks uncertain. Over the past year our work – not just as a funder, but also as an advocate of and ally to arts organisations – has never seemed more important, or more crucial.'

In 2016 we awarded over £4.5m to UK museums for the purchase of works by 129 different artists, including St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child (c. 1440-75), attributed to the studio of Dieric Bouts the Elder for The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle; Steve McQueen’s Ashes (2002-15) for The Whitworth, Manchester; The Orozco Garden (2016) by Gabriel Orozco for South London Gallery; and The Message of the Forest (1936) by Czech Surrealist Toyen, for the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.

With public funding under pressure we've also strengthened our curatorial development programme, which saw investment in the New Collecting Awards scheme reach £1m, helping curators to collect in areas ranging from contemporary light-based art, to classic French couture. Meanwhile, 50 curators were awarded Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grants, five new curators received traineeships, and our support for networking and training opportunities benefited more than 400 museum and gallery professionals nationwide.

Our public campaign to save the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I for Royal Museums Greenwich, proved the nation’s enthusiasm for the portrait, with over 8,000 people donating to the appeal in just 10 weeks. More than 420 years after it was painted, the portrait has entered a public collection for the first time, and is now on display at the Queen’s House in Greenwich.

2016 also saw the Victoria and Albert Museum crowned Art Fund Museum of the Year. The V&A recently announced that they will use the £100,000 prize money to help fund DesignLab Nation, an ambitious national programme to support design education for 11 to 16 year olds, working with regional museums.

Central to our success, the National Art Pass scheme has continued to grow, with membership reaching 123,000. The pass generates the incomes that makes our support for museums and galleries possible and, in turn, allows our members to see the impact of their support first hand, by visiting for free or at reduced price.

The full annual report for 2016/2017 is available here.