Highlights from history
Highlights from the Wolfson Foundation’s sixty year history.
Hightlights from history
The Wolfson Foundation is founded
Sir Isaac Wolfson (1897-1991), Founder (1955), Chairman (from 1963 to 1972) and then President (from 1975) of the Wolfson Foundation.
Purchase of Goya’s ‘Wellington’, National Gallery
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.
Pledge to Wolfson College, Oxford
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.”
Leonard Wolfson becomes Chairman
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.
Partnership with the Art Fund
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.
Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford
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.
John Cabot City Technology College
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.
Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, Cambridge
Grants such as that awarded to establish the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, Cambridge, marked an increasing emphasis on biomedical research.
DCMS/Wolfson Public Library Programme
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.
Historic buildings partnerships
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.
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.
Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre at UCL
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.
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.