“Save Sekhemka”: Northampton Museum and Art Gallery could lose accreditation over sale of Egyptian statue.
As the sale of the Egyptian statue deaccessioned by the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery is set to proceed at Christie’s this afternoon, as part of “The Exceptional Sale 2014”, the way that the museum has decided to sell this asset to pay for other activities has raised an ethical issue.
In a statement issued by the Museums Association, chairman of the MA’s ethics committee David Fleming stressed that: “We do appreciate the huge financial pressure that many local authority museums are under at the present time, but the MA’s code of ethics provides for such a sale only as a last resort after other sources of funding have been thoroughly explored.
“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.”
In the MA’s statement it was also noted that “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.”
Fleming added that if the council went ahead with the sale the MA could review the museum service’s membership.
Furthermore a “Save Sekhemka Action Group” has created a website informing about the statue and asking the public to help stop the sale of the statue.
“In the short term the museum and art gallery could benefit from the sale”, concludes David Gill (Looting Matters), and adds: “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.”