National funding bodies

The funding organisations listed here support museums seeking to acquire items of Treasure, subject to their individual terms and conditions. Please take a note of timescales, where listed, and ensure that applications are made in good time.

ACE / V&A Purchase Grant Fund

The V&A has operated the Fund since 1881, helping museums, libraries and archives to develop their collections. The Purchase Grant Fund supports the purchase of material as diverse as a collection of letters from Daphne Du Maurier to Ivan Magee (Exeter University Library; £1,600 grant); the mixed media work Roberta Breitmore by Lynn Hershmann Leeson (Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester; £50,000 grant) and a hoard of Iron Age coins from Little Horwood (Buckinghamshire County Museum; £12,900 grant ).

The maximum grant is normally 50% of the purchase price. In exceptional circumstances grants of more than 50% may be considered, subject to available funds. Local financial commitment is essential. Grants are calculated on the level of local contribution. Up to £5 of grant aid may be given for each £1 of locally-raised funding. Local sources might include the applicant's own funds, special appeals, contributions by friends' organisations, local business or private donations.

The balance may be sought from other nationally-administered grant giving bodies such as the Art Fund, the Friends of the National Libraries, the Beecroft Bequest, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
A minimum purchase price of £500, and maximum of £300 000, apply.

Purchase Grant Fund Website
Tel: 020 7942 2536

The V&A aims to get a decision back to applicants within 4 weeks of receiving all information required.

The Headley Fund

The Headley Trust is one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. Its trustees are aware of the great difficulties many regional and local museums find in raising the purchase sum to secure archaeological artefacts.

This scheme runs alongside, and in close collaboration with, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund. Applicant museums need to meet the eligibility criteria laid out in the Information for Applicants document available from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund. An application will only be accepted by the Headley Trust's office if the V&A Purchase Grant Fund has already offered a grant.

Headley Fund Website
E-mail: (they are not able to take telephone or written enquiries)

The Art Fund

The Art Fund can offer significant financial assistance to UK public museums, galleries, historic houses, libraries and archives to help with the purchase of works of art and objects for their permanent collections.

The Art Fund runs 2 schemes:

  • The Art Fund Main Grants Scheme is for applications for grants of above £7,500, and/or where the total cost of the work is more than £15,000. These applications are considered by The Art Fund Trustees at Board meetings, and applicants will be expected to arrange for the work under consideration to be brought to the Board meeting for viewing. The British Museum may be able to assist with this - please contact the Treasure Team to ask.
  • The Small Grants Scheme is for applications for grants of £7,500 or less, where the total cost of the work is less than £15,000. This will usually be most appropriate for more modestly priced objects, and for smaller and regional museums in the process of developing existing collections.

Art Fund Website


General Enquiries
Tel: 020 7225 4865

Emma Coleman (Programmes co-ordinator)
Tel: 020 7225 4822

Sarah Philp (Director of Programmes)
Tel: 020 7225 4803

- if the application is for more than £7500 then the item and decision has to be discussed at a Board meeting. These meetings held 5-6 times a year. Factoring in when your application is received it could be 2 months before a decision is given.

- if the application is for less than £7500 the Art Fund aims to return a decision in approximately 3 weeks.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund

The Heritage Fund is administered by the Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. It supports a wide range of heritage projects. They say that they 'can fund purchases that improve collections and projects that encourage museums to use collections creatively'. Call for advice if you think the find you would like to purchase fulfils either of those aims.

  • 'Heritage Grants' is a fund for purchases over £50,000
  • 'Your Heritage' is a fund for grants £5,000 - £50,000; projects should involve outreach/information activities etc as well as the acquisition price of the object itself.

They are also consulting currently on a new fund, envisaged to be launched in April 2007, specifically for museum acquisitions, with grants available for between £50,000 and £200,000. Applicants will be asked to show how acquisitions will increase public involvement and enjoyment of their collections, but interestingly the money can be applied for pro-actively, without the

'...need to identify individual items in advance'.

National Lottery Heritage Fund Website
Tel: 020 7591 6042

National Heritage Memorial Fund

The NHMF provides grants to organisations so that 'they can buy items of outstanding interest and of importance to the national heritage', and can act very quickly e.g. to save an item under the terms of a contested export license. The NHMF is a fund of last resort which places emphasis on acquisitions. If you apply you need to focus on the risk to the item (e.g. loss to export) and its significance to the UK.

National Heritage Memorial Fund Website

Vanessa Wells (Senior Grants Officer)
Tel: 0207 591 6115

Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG) Museum Fund

Designed to enable smaller museums to purchase coins through the Treasure Act, where the price falls below the £500 threshold set by the V&A purchase grant.
Interested Parties in the first instance should contact the Fund at this e-mail address for an application:

More information and a downloadable application are also available on the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild website.

The Beecroft Bequest

'...for the purchase of pictures and works of art (can be of fine or decorative arts, for example paintings, watercolours, sculpture, ceramics, metalwork, furniture, textiles and other items of aesthetic merit) not later than the 18th century in date...' Under the terms of the will of the late Walter G Beecroft the residue of his estate was bequeathed to the Museums Association to form the Beecroft Bequest. The income deriving from the bequest was to be distributed as grant-in-aid to art galleries and museums in the British Isles towards the purchases of paintings and works of art not later than 1800 in date. Museums must be institutional members of the MA and based in the UK; be accredited / registered under the MLA scheme or have applied for accreditation; Preference will be given to organisations with annual revenue expenditure not exceeding £1,000,000.

Applications must be for more than £500.

In the first instance applicants are asked to send an email with a detailed description of the object and images.

Beecroft Bequest Website

Please contact:
Charlie Lindus
Tel: 020 7566 7800