18 APRIL 1987, Page 23

20th-century art

Sir: The National Art-Collections Fund shares Mr Stamp's concern for the fate of our collections of architectural drawings. Such drawings are now in demand as decorative items, and prices have soared accordingly. As a result the purchase grants of our architectural libraries such as that of the RIBA have become quite inadequate.

In its desire to help these libraries the NACF has given grants towards the purch- ase of such collections. But the NACF, which is totally dependent upon its mem- bers' subscriptions and private donations, has to try to cover the field of fine and decorative art from the beginnings until today. With the best will in the world it cannot devote more than a proportion of its small budget to architectural drawings. It should also be remembered that a condition of NACF help is that the public should have access. Are the architectural organisations doing enough to take some of the strain?

The NACF will continue to look sym- pathetically at requests for help for architectural drawings but has to exercise a rigorous selection, and an essential crite- rion is whether the particular drawings concerned qualify as art. I should like to assure Mr Stamp, and any others who share his misapprehension, that 20th- century objects receive the same attention as artefacts of the previous 25 or more centuries. It may come as a surprise to many that over 20 per cent of the objects that have received NACF assistance were created in this century.

Peter Wakefield

Director, National Art-Collections Fund, 20 John Islip Street, London SW1