Project information


Gainsborough's House, the childhood home of Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) B is striving to become a dynamic organisation with a strong collection enjoyed by all visitors, especially children. The museum's strategy to strengthen the collection is in parallel with plans for a major expansion.


Charity information

Gainsborough's House Society

Gainsborough's House Society logo
  • Need


    Gainsborough's House has the largest collection of Gainsborough's art in existence, yet it has gaps in the collection. Recently a portrait by Gainsborough of a member of his family, 'Mrs Audley', 1769 became available at auction at short notice. The museum used reserves to purchase the painting.


    We need help towards the cost of the acquisition, to conserve, display and research the painting, to develop learning programmes around family history. Building the collection will ensure that the House has acquisition funds should opportunities arise in the future.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Safeguard, conserve and display Gainsborough's art in the best conditions of a public art gallery.


    » Involve conservators and curatorial staff, researchers in optimal display. Engage learning staff to develop learning programmes around family history

    Our plans for a major expansion to create an art museum on the international stage with more display space will be supported with a strong collection in the best condition.

    Aim 2

    Use the painting understand Gainsborough's family history and context of 18thC social history.


    » Extension activities in our school learning workshop and family drop-days to explore a greater understanding of Gainsborough's life and family history

    Engage curatorial and research staff in placing the painting in context and use that knowledge to feed into learning programmes.

    Aim 3

    To fill a gap in the collection with portraits of Gainsborough's family


    » To research potential availability of family acquisitions.

    A dynamic collecting policy that strategically strengthens the collection will help our aim to be a vibrant forward-looking museum.

    Aim 4

    Strengthen learning and engagement with the collection, particularly schools, the young and families


    » Develop a minimum of 6 workshops around display, family history and learning about the treasures of Gainsborough's House.

    Add another dimension to our school visits and family drop-in sessions. Engage senior school in a co-curatorial project.

    Aim 5

    To build the collection so it is on the international art museum map.


    » Use the increasing depth of the collection to develop relationships and partnerships with other museums, particularly in Europe. Foster local pride.

    Engage in a joint project with at least one other European museum.

  • Impact


    We will showcase the full talent of one of Britain's most important painters. Donors to this project will play a critical part in ensuring the art of one of Britain's leading artists is protected and can be enjoyed in a public collection. New acquisitions play a major roles in public engagement activities, such as tours and learning programmes, especially for young audiences.


    There is a risk that a static collection policy will impact on our ability to attract more tourists and strengthen our visitor offer.

    By being dynamic and moving swiftly when opportunities arise. Maintaining and displaying our collection in an optimal state.


    Donors will receive regular written reports on our progress.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £30,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £15,000 Acquisition Acquisition Fund
      £2,000 Transport Transport and Insurance
      £9,000 Conservation Conservation and Research
      £4,000 Display Display, Interpretation and learning
  • Background


    Gainsborough's House, childhood home of Thomas Gainsborough, Sudbury, Suffolk


    Visitors, the local population of Sudbury, families, local school children and the wider Suffolk area. This will support the revival and transformation of Gainsborough's birthplace market town.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Gainsborough's House, the childhood home of Thomas Gainsborough, Sudbury's famous son, has been a registered charity and museum for more than 50 years. Whilst it has a significant collection until recently there was a period of 9 years without new acquisitions. This changed with the purchase in 2014 of two drawings by Gainsborough with the purchase of 'Mrs Audley' in 2015. 'Building the Gainsborough Collection' project will strengthen

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Mark Bills, Director Of Gainsborough's House

    Mark Bills, Director will have charge of the project. He has overseen a significant increase in visitor numbers, and support for our transformation.