The British Museum continues to add to its collection today ensuring the collection remains relevant to future generations.
The different ways in which objects have been added to the collection is outlined in the Collecting History page, but current acquisitions are usually made through donations, bequests and purchase of objects.
‘Sheepfold at Sunset’, 1871 by Samuel Palmer (1805-1881)
This richly worked and superbly well preserved example of the English artist’s mature style as a watercolourist incorporates elements of the valley of Shoreham in Kent and the nearby manor of Ightham Mote that he knew from his time there in his youth from 1826 until around 1834, with motifs inspired by later travels such as the cypress trees of the Villa d’Este in Rome and the Devonshire tors.
The poetic landscape, with a few minor changes in the figures on the right, is derived from Palmer’s 'Rising Moon' etching of 1857: an impression of which the artist presented to the British Museum in 1872.
The present watercolour, notable for the glorious bursts of colour of the setting sun, comes from the Joseph and Margaret Fitton Collection and was accepted in lieu by HM Government and allocated to the British Museum in 2019
10 rupee note, 1916
This 10 rupee note was issued by the East Africa Protectorate in 1916. During the First World War the rupee gained value against the pound. This created problems in British East Africa where farmers accrued debts in rupees but were paid in sterling, causing the British to forcibly demonetise the rupee in 1919, replacing it with the short-lived florin, and later the shilling.
The note was purchased with funding from the Archibald Bequest.
'Lifu', Ghost net shark figure 2019 by Jimmy Kenny Thaiday, (b. 1987)
'Lifu', Ghost net shark figure by Jimmy Kenny Thaiday, 2019
This work highlights one of the most the important ancestral creatures for Torres Strait Islander people as well as the global urgency of marine pollution.
In the Torres Strait, nets weighing up to 8 tons are discarded by Indonesian fishing vessels in the ocean causing havoc to marine life. By clearing the sea of these nets, which capture many sea creatures such as turtles and dugong, it improves the environment and it enables some men and women to gain a living as artists.
Works such as this provide a challenging message about a possible dystopian marine future from a small island in the Torres Strait in the western Pacific Ocean at the end of the Great Barrier Reef. This shark figure also points to the risky future of the shark, so many of which are caught and killed in nets such as this.
The Mapledurwell Treasure
This hoard of 345 silver coins discovered in Hampshire in 2018 and was deposited in the early years of the English Civil War, probably around 1643. It includes coins of Edward VI, Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I, all sixpences and shillings, with a face value at the time of £13 4s 6d.
This was easily a year’s pay for a labourer at the time and several months’ wages for a soldier in the Civil War. Despite the number and historic significance of hoards from the Civil War, the British Museum had never in the past acquired one intact.
Interesting features include a numbers of coins with distinctive scratches, familiar from the period but the purpose of which is not yet clear; it also includes pierced coins, demonstrating that these were still usable in currency.
Acquired in 2019, with funding from the Archibald Bequest.