You are here:

Highlights from history

Highlights from the Wolfson Foundation’s sixty year history.

Hightlights from history

April 10

The Wolfson Foundation is founded

Timeline 1955 - 1960

Sir Isaac Wolfson (1897-1991), Founder (1955), Chairman (from 1963 to 1972) and then President (from 1975) of the Wolfson Foundation.

April 10

Purchase of Goya’s ‘Wellington’, National Gallery

Timeline 1961 - 1965

The grant from the Wolfson Foundation to the National Gallery was described by the Daily Telegraph as potentially “a turning point for patronage in Britain.” The painting was stolen from the vestibule of the National Gallery in August 1961, although subsequently recovered.

January 1

Pledge to Wolfson College, Oxford

Timeline 1966 - 1970

Sir Isaac Wolfson shaking hands with the Queen at the opening of Wolfson College, Oxford in November 1974. Also pictured are Lady (Edith) Wolfson in purple, Sir Isaiah Berlin, Founder and first President of the College, and Lady (Aline) Berlin. Trustees described the opening of the Wolfson Colleges as “perhaps the most important landmark in the history of the Foundation.”

April 10

Leonard Wolfson becomes Chairman

Timeline 1971 - 1975

Lord Wolfson of Marylebone. Trustee of the Wolfson Foundation from 1955 and Chairman 1972-2010. He is pictured here at the University of Birmingham in the year he became Chairman.

April 10

Partnership with the Art Fund

Timeline 1976 - 1980

By 2015 £7 million had been allocated to assist museums and galleries to purchase works of art through the partnership with the Art Fund. Examples include Pietro Lorenzetti’s Christ between Saints Paul and Peter, circa 1320, by the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, and Giovanni Paolo Panini’s The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio, Rome, 1747, by the National Gallery.

April 10

Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford

Timeline 1981 - 1985

A grant of £1 million supported the establishment of the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford to foster research in the field of molecular and cell biology with direct application to the study of human disease.

April 10

John Cabot City Technology College

Timeline 1986 - 1990

An award of £1,120,000 was made establishing the John Cabot City Technology College (now John Cabot Academy) in Bristol. In total, £28 million has been awarded to over 800 different secondary schools and sixth form colleges.

April 10

Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, Cambridge

Timeline 1991 - 1995

Grants such as that awarded to establish the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, Cambridge, marked an increasing emphasis on biomedical research.

April 10

DCMS/Wolfson Public Library Programme

Timeline 1996 - 2000

Since the mid-1980s the Foundation has committed more than £16.75 million to a variety of library initiatives, spanning university research libraries, public libraries (including the Library of Birmingham, pictured) and safeguarding the country’s archives.

April 10

Historic buildings partnerships

Timeline 2001 - 2005

The Foundation has committed over £22 million to 1,500 projects for the conservation and interpretation of historic buildings, often through partnerships with such bodies as the Church Buildings Council, English Heritage and the National Trust. St Mary de Havra, New Shoreham, Sussex, and the neoclassical St George’s Hall, Liverpool, both received funding in 2004.

April 10

University libraries

Timeline 2006 - 2010

Awards of £10 million were made for university libraries in a partnership with Research Libraries UK at a time when many libraries were rethinking their space. Pictured is the John Rylands Library, Manchester, which received funding in 1962, 1990, 1996 and 2003.

April 10

Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre at UCL

Timeline 2011 - 2015

UCL’s Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neuroscience (awarded under Wolfson Neurology Initiative in 2011). The Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre at UCL established through an exceptional grant of £20 million in 2011 following a rigorous, international competition.

December 16

Mental Health Initiative

The Wolfson Foundation Mental Health Initiative

In view of the relative lack of funding for mental health research compared with that for physical diseases, in 2018 we launched a special initiative to establish a new centre of excellence to research anxiety, depression and associated conditions in children and young people. After considering over 25 expressions of interest, in 2019 we awarded a grant of £10m to the University of Cardiff, who will collaborate with international researchers using unique health datasets of the Welsh population to explore effective treatments and prevention strategies.