The art collection grew slowly in the early years but as the Museum site was developed, the collection expanded due to the generosity of local people. Many local residents gave pieces; 17 works were given by a single family (the Moore family of Killough). A number of artists, such as Richard Croft, Lydia de Burgh, Betty McCord and Jim Manley, also generously donated examples of their work. [caption id="attachment_30809" align="alignleft" width="326" caption="Edward Southwell"][/caption] As additional funding became available in the 1990’s from organisations like the Friends of Down County Museum, the Northern Ireland Museums Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, Esmé Mitchell Trust, Friends of the National Collections of Ireland and the Haverty Trust, more works were purchased. Two very special works, which have recently been acquired in this way, are a sculpture, Girl and Her Shadow, by F.E. McWilliam and a portrait of Edward Southwell, attributed to Sir Godfrey Kneller. As with the rest of the collection, works of art relate in some way to County Down, whether landscapes or portraits, or in some cases, abstract works by local artists. A few paintings were accepted because they help to demonstrate the development of art in Ireland. Some artists, such as Barbara Allen, David Evans, Les Jones and Carmelita Rogers, were specially commissioned to illustrate particular scenes or buildings. Along with this strong local interest, many works, such as those by William Conor, Oisin Kelly, F E McWilliam, Colin Middleton, Andrew Nicholl and Sir John Lavery, are also of national significance. As a group, the collection is balanced between amateur and professional artists, historic and contemporary, with the result that the Museum now has a unique (if perhaps eclectic!) mix of works. [caption id="attachment_30821" align="alignright" width="201" caption="Girl and Her Shadow... by FE McWilliam. "][/caption] The new exhibition is open until Wednesday 18 December and admission is free. This year’s edition of the Down Survey, the yearbook of the museum, will be a catalogue of the Museum’s fine art collection. The publication which will be available from the end of November will list every work in the collection fully described and illustrated. It will make an ideal gift for all those with an interest in art and local scenes. F.E. McWilliam (1909-92) Girl and Her Shadow (1969) Bronze sculpture Bequeathed by Ann Forsdyke through the Art Fund, 2009.