In 2009, alongside the development project campaign, we set out and succeeded in raising over £100,000 to conserve much of Sir William Holburne’s founding collection and many objects that had been in long-term storage for over 60 years.

With the fantastic support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Pilgrim Trust, Associating of Independent Museums, Woodmansterne Art Conservation Awards, the Leche Trust, Venziana Fund, Clothworkers’ and Drapers’ companies, the Friends of the Holburne Museum and many individual donors we were able to conserve, clean and restore most of Sir William's founding collection and take 60% of the objects out of storage to be displayed in the new galleries in 2011.

How you can help

The care of the collection is a never ending process. We still have many paintings, frames and decorative art objects that need conservation to ensure that the Museum’s collection is protected. New works are also joining the collection, some given by individuals others acquired with the support of the Art Fund, these acquisitions often need some form of conservation or cleaning before they can be displayed, so it is essential the Holburne maintains a fund to support this work that protects important works of arts for future generations.

To support the ongoing acquisition, conservation and research into the Holburne’s fine and decorative arts please visit contact our Development Team on 01225 388564.

Help us conserve our wonderful Collection for future generations donate here.

£25 can transform a silverware display
£50 can replace the broken glass of a portrait miniature
£100 can enable the Museum to secure the stand of a bronze figure
£250 can pay for a watercolour to be cleaned, repaired and newly mounted
£500 can see the restoration of a piece of maiolica or porcelain
£1,000 can restore a piece of furniture or a musical instrument
£3,000 can fund the restoration of a clock’s movement and case    
£5,000 can enable the conservation and restoration of a major painting


Circle of J.D. De Heem (c.1610-1669):

Still life with Shellfish, oil on canvas, mid C17

The most recent painting to be adopted and restored was funded with an award from Woodmansterne with wonderful results. The painting and its frame were badly damaged and could not be displayed. Repair and restoration have revealed the superb quality of the work which will help experts to understand its authorship. 

This beautifully rich and sumptuous banquet table is now proudly displayed and visitors can see the newly discovered parrot (half a parrot, which indicates that the painting was cut down to fit a smaller frame) and the artist’s reflection can be glimpsed in a pitcher on the left of the table.



Large Dish or Charger

Italian, Castelli, c. 1600

Tin-glazed earthenware decorated in enamel colours depicting the Goddess Diana and her nymphs bathing, attended by servants.

This important piece of maiolica, or glazed earthenware, from Sir William Holburne’s collection, was described as imperfect in 1859, although we do not know the extent of the damage to which this alludes. By the C21st the dish was broken into about twenty pieces and old fashioned methods of conservation and their decay over the years had left it in a very poor condition and badly in need of adoption.

Conservation involved dismantling the dish, removing old repairs and cleaning all the pieces. Using the most up to date techniques the maiolica was then bonded together, gaps were filled and the image re-touched. However, so as not to disguise the history of the dish its adopter asked that none on the joins/cracks on the back of the dish should be filled.