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The Northampton statue: likely outcome

The Northampton Egyptian statue has been consigned for auction at Christie's today and I expect that it will be sold. The debate is not about whether or not it should have left Egypt in the mid nineteenth century, but whether or not it should have been deaccessioned by Northampton Museum and Art Gallery in order to fund museum developments. The Museums Association is not happy and has indicated the likely implications for the museums.

it is unlikely that any UK museum will make a bid, not least because they would rely on funding for the acquisition and this would probably not be forthcoming given the concerns of the MA.

But if the buyer is from abroad, will they be able to export it? Given the associations with Castle Ashby this is unlikely. Remember the Northampton amphora that resided in storage after the Castle Ashby Vase auction in the mid 1980s.

And as the MA has concerns, there is unlikely to be Matched funding from a UK museum.

So the outcome could be that the new buyer will have spent a substantial sum for an object that may not be able to leave the UK in the immediate future.

and Northampton Museum and Art Gallery could find itself unable to apply for national funding for the development that was the reason why they deaccessioned the statue.

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