A report has called for increased investment in UK museums.
Historian Sir David Cannadine’s report, launched at Tate Modern, highlights the spiralling price of art on the international art market.
But it says that museums and galleries in the UK have limited funds to make acquisitions.
It cites the record 450 million US dollars (£341 million) paid for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi at auction last year, which it says is more than half the entire amount that the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and other London-based official bodies allocated to England’s museums and galleries in 2016-17.
Sir David, author of the Why Collect? report, said: “If ever there was a time to increase investment in museum curators and their collections, then that time is now.”
Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive of The Wolfson Foundation, which commissioned the report alongside the Art Fund, said: “While the funding challenges facing the sector may not be historically unique, they are certainly severe and potentially very damaging.
“What the report makes abundantly clear is the need for increased and intelligent funding from both philanthropy and, crucially, the public purse.”
Tate director Maria Balshaw, said: “The works in our collections are a spur for the evolution of ideas and reflect the society of their time.
“It is vital that we have the resources to collect and care for works of the highest calibre. We need to be able to tell both a global and local story for generations to come and to provide powerful impetus for future creativity.”
Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said that “concerns over the lack of public investment in the growth and care of our nation’s collections, and in the people responsible for them, should be heeded”, adding that museums are a “vital part of the social fabric of our country”.
A DCMS spokeswoman said: “Over the last decade the Government has invested over £8.4 billion in the museums sector.
“On top of that we have introduced a new tax relief for museums and galleries, worth £30 million a year, that will help museums develop new exhibitions and attract visitors.
“Last year’s independent review into museums by Neil Mendoza found a strong and dynamic sector and made practical recommendations on how it can continue to thrive. The Government is now in the process of implementing that review.”