June 12 2012
Picture: Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery
I mean, really splendid news, on a number of levels. I recently mentioned Birmingham Museum's quest to raise £900,000 for the acquisition of Sir Joshua Reynolds' Portrait of Dr John Ash (above). In these austere times, it looked like a big ask. But - praise be - the Heritage Lottery Fund has stepped forward with a whopping £675,000, leaving just £50,000 to be raised.
Is this more evidence (after the generous £5.9m support of the Ashmolean's Manet campaign) that the Heritage Lottery Fund is at last looking more kindly on acquisitions (as AHN has long hoped for)? If so, then it promises to be one of the most important developments in the UK's recent cultural history. Not only can museums begin to think seriously about acquisitions again, but we might also be able to save some of the important pictures that are being sold overseas.