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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Galleries given Budget boost
Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks
Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks may go overseas
More works of art could be saved for the nation after the UK chancellor pledged in the Budget to make it easier for museums and galleries to make purchases.

After a string of high-profile cases in which masterpieces were under threat of being sold to foreign collectors, Gordon Brown told the House of Commons on Wednesday he would review rules.

"I propose to review the incentives, reliefs and exemptions available to help national and regional museums and galleries make acquisitions of works of art and culture," he said.

Such works "should not be lost to the nation but, instead, should be accessible to the people of Britain", he said.

The move was hailed as "excellent news" by gallery bosses.

National Gallery director Charles Saumarez Smith said: "The need for support for major acquisitions is now very urgent."

Portrait Of Omai
The Portrait Of Omai was recently saved
National Portrait Gallery director Sandy Nairne told BBC News Online the announcement was "very timely".

"The National Portrait Gallery is delighted that the chancellor is proposing to review the ways in which the government can help support acquisitions for our museums and galleries," he said.

The government was recently warned it was facing a cultural crisis if it did not set up tax breaks to prevent important art going overseas.

Among the works of art that are currently under threat of being exported are Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks, which could move from the National Gallery to the United States.

A last-chance export ban has been put on the painting so The National Gallery can raise the required 35m.

One of the most expensive paintings ever sold in the UK, Sir Joshua Reynolds' Portrait of Omai, was recently kept in the UK thanks to a donation from a mystery benefactor.

An anonymous donor gave the Tate 12.5m to buy the picture.

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