Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery could lose accreditation over sale of Egyptian statue

The sale of the Egyptian statue deaccessioned by the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery is set to proceed at Christie's tomorrow, 10 July 2014 (see details). The estimate is £4-£6 million ($7-$10 million). The collecting history of the statue is well documented but the issue is about the way that the museum has decided to sell this asset to pay for other activities.

The UK Museums Association has issued a statement.

David Fleming of the MA has noted that the MA Code of Ethics "provides for such a sale only as a last resort after other sources of funding have been thoroughly explored".

He added:
“At a time when public finances are pressured it is all the more important that museum authorities behave in an ethical fashion in order to safeguard the long-term public interest.  
“We would urge the council to seek alternative sources of capital funding before undertaking the sale of such an important item with a long history of association with the borough. Without this, the MA cannot endorse the sale.” 
More importantly for the museum this could affect its ability to operate as a museum. The MA statement noted that "if the council went ahead with the sale the MA could review the museum service’s membership".

The statement also noted:
Arts Council England (ACE) has said that the sale could jeopardise Northampton Museum’s Accreditation status. The MA also warned that the council may face difficulties should it seek grant funding to support the extension project if it loses Accreditation.
In the short term the museum and art gallery could benefit from the sale. But loss of accreditation would mean that it would be denied access to central funding for development projects and any further acquisitions. It also needs to remember that the proposed museum development is estimated to cost £14 million.

For further details about the bid to stop the sale of the statue see here.

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