Thomas Bridge 01 August 2014

Northampton museums lose accreditation after council’s Egyptian statue sale

Northampton museums lose accreditation after council’s Egyptian statue sale image

Two museums run by Northampton Borough Council have lost their accreditation status following a controversial decision to auction off an ancient Egyptian statue.

Northampton sold the 4,000-year-old statue of Sekhemka at auction earlier this month to a private collector, raising over £8m to fund extensions to its museums and art galleries.

However Arts Council England today revealed it has removed Northampton Museum and Art Gallery and Abington Park Museum – both managed by the town hall – from its accreditation scheme.

Arts Council England said its decision was ‘hugely regrettable’ yet concluded the process leading up to the sale of the artefact at auctioneers Christie’s was in contravention of its rules. The sites will now be excluded from the scheme for a minimum of five years.

Over the last 12 months, the Arts Council has contributed £25,000 to the digitisation of Northampton Museum’s shoe collection. Running costs for the site are thought to reach around £900,000 a year.

Yet Northampton Borough Council leader, Cllr David Mackintosh, said he was ‘confident’ the town hall would be able to attract funding from elsewhere for the museum’s extension and there would be ‘absolutely no reduction’ in the council’s current cultural offer.

‘It is disappointing that Arts Council England is removing the accreditation from Northampton Museum and also puzzling at a time when we are possibly one of the only local authorities in the country with plans for a multi-million pound investment in their museum service,’ Cllr Mackintosh added.

‘We do believe that we have followed the correct process in making this sale and so are considering an appeal and are taking legal advice on how to go forward.’

Scott Furlong, director of acquisitions, exports and loans unit at the Arts Council said: ‘I am confident that the museums sector and wider community will share our dismay at the way this sale has been conducted and support the decision to remove Northampton Museums Service from the scheme.

‘It is of great importance that the public retain their trust in museums to look after the collections held in their name.

'There is a very real risk that this trust, and particularly that of potential donors and funders, will be seriously undermined if disposals from public collections are seen to be driven by financial considerations and in breach of our professional standards and ethical code.’

Peter Knott, Director Midlands said: ‘The Arts Council and Northampton Borough Council have a long history of excellent partnership working. In this instance we have a substantive disagreement about the approach they have taken and we have expressed our misgivings during our dialogue with colleagues there.’

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Deputy Chief Executive

Harris Burns Ltd
£74,000
Lichfield is a vibrant and historic district located at the heart of Staffordshire.  We are transforming the way we deliver our services with a str... Lichfield, Staffordshire
Recuriter: Harris Burns Ltd

Highways Traffic Development Engineer

Milton Keynes Council
£34,788 - £38,813
Milton Keynes is a place of opportunity. Milton Keynes
Recuriter: Milton Keynes Council

Social Worker - South Essex Family Centre

Essex County Council
£30906.0 - £42254.0 per annum + Plus Excellent Benefits Package
What you'll need to join our Social Work teams To play a key part in transforming the lives of children and families, you will have a Diploma or Degree in Social Work, CQSW, CSS or equivalent and Registration with Social Work England as Registered Soc England, Essex, Basildon
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Assistant Contracts Engineer

Milton Keynes Council
£34,788 - £38,813
We are looking for an Assistants Contracts Engineer to be a key senior member of our Contracts Team managing... Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recuriter: Milton Keynes Council

Team Leader - Streetworks

Milton Keynes Council
£39,782 - £43,662
We are looking for a Team Leader to lead our Streetworks Team. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recuriter: Milton Keynes Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue