UK lags behind rest of world on acquisitions - Museums Association

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UK lags behind rest of world on acquisitions

UK museums and galleries cannot compete effectively for acquisitions on the world stage, according to new research by the Art Fund.
Museums Association
The Art Fund asked nine of the world's major museums how much they spent on acquisitions in 2004/05. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York spent the most (£53.4m) and had purchasing power eight times that of the National Gallery in London. The four UK museums in the survey spent the least on acquisitions.

'British museums are struggling to keep up with their international counterparts,' said David Barrie, the director of the Art Fund. 'The sums of public money that they are spending on collecting are in steep decline.'

Barrie said that if more money did not become available from public funds, then better tax incentives should be used to encourage private giving.

Museums at the top of the table received multiple tax incentives, or generous government funding (or in the case of the Louvre a mixture of both). Of the £53.4m spent by the Met, 54 per cent was from cash donations, which the Art Fund says was the result of generous US tax breaks. In France, the Louvre benefited from generous state funding (£68.9m came from government) but also received £10.6m thanks to a tax incentive.

The research also showed how much the nine museums spent on acquisitions as a proportion of their total income. The Rijksmuseum spent about 20 per cent (£9.7m) of its total income (£48.3m) on buying works, while the Victoria and Albert Museum spent 2 per cent (£1.3m) on purchases from its total income (£66.1m). But UK museums told the Art Fund that they don't have a choice how they spend their income as they are under-resourced.

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