What we do

Taking inspiration from the Rothschild family’s symbol displaying five arrows, the work of the Rothschild Foundation falls within five main areas: caring for and promoting Waddesdon Manor; curating and managing an outstanding collection of art, buildings and landscapes; convening discussion and debate; awarding grants to charities working in the fields of art and heritage, education, the environment and social welfare; and undertaking major initiatives within our policy areas. These areas of work are elaborated on in the sections below, and our recent achievements in each area may be read about in our Annual Review.

Inspired by the Rothschild family’s coat of arms, our work falls within five main areas

Waddesdon Manor

At the heart of the Foundation is Waddesdon Manor, built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1885 to display his outstanding collection of art. Opened to the public in 1959, Waddesdon Manor is managed by the Rothschild Foundation on behalf of the National Trust, who took over ownership in 1957.

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Michael Craig Martin's installation sculptures 'Umbrella (yellow) and Umbrella (blue)', 2011, steel at the Windmill Hill Archive, Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire.

The Rothschild family tradition of collecting art is continued by the current generation and, through the Rothschild Foundation, an active acquisitions policy allows the art collection to continue to grow, with both historic and contemporary pieces in the Foundation’s collection.

In a broader sense, the Foundation’s collection also includes a range of outstanding buildings, landscapes, and archives.

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Thought leadership & convening

The Foundation seeks to create a platform at Waddesdon for discussion that is beneficial both to the work of the Foundation and our areas of interest.

Our Waddesdon Dialogues programme brings leading organisations working in our areas of interest to our beautiful Windmill Hill building to deliver conferences, seminars and roundtable debates on the pressing and urgent issues of the day.

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Providing grant funding is one of the ways in which the Foundation supports work within our areas of interest.

Much of this is proactive, with the Foundation identifying and working with charities doing exciting work in the areas we wish to support. We are interested in using the freedom that comes with being an independent funder to back new and innovative ideas that address challenges in the fields of arts, education and the environment.

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Major initiatives

The Waddesdon Bequest Gallery at the British Museum - Glass cases holding Renaissance treasures in the Waddesdon Bequest room at the British Museum

Alongside our grant-making and thought leadership work, the Foundation sometimes undertakes major initiatives, either independently or in partnership with other organisations.

These often involve a significant investment by the Foundation of both funds and resources.

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