The British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) have made their first joint acquisition, a very rare statue of the Buddha dating from around 600 AD. It was purchased for £850,000 ($1.5 million), with £560,000 coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The National Art Collections Fund contributed £100,000, and the British Museum and V&A each raised a similar sum.
The main reason for the joint purchase was that it made it easier to raise the funds to compete with private collectors and other international museums. There was also a feeling that there has not been enough cooperation between the V&A’s Indian department and the British Museum’s Oriental department, and that coming together for an acquisition would be a positive step. It is likely to set an important precedent for the future.
The new acquisition is on display in the V&A’s Indian sculpture gallery until late June and it will then be on view in the British Museum’s Round Reading Room from July to September. After that it will go on short-term loan to museums around the UK largely funded with a £60,000 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Buddha will then travel regularly between the British Museum and the V&A, at least once a year, and possibly more frequently.