The president of the Museums Association, David Anderson, used his keynote speech at his organisation’s annual conference in Liverpool yesterday to announce that Croydon Council has been expelled from the MA and to warn that it will be barred from future membership if it goes ahead with its planned sale of Chinese ceramics at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong in two weeks’ time.
Loss of membership of the Museums Association means that the Museum of Croydon and other council-run galleries are unable to borrow exhibits from other, accredited museums, nor will they qualify for grants – potentially worth millions of pounds – from bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund or Arts Council.
Two experienced members of staff at the Museum of Croydon have opted to leave their jobs since the council decided to go ahead with its pawn shop sale of 24 of the most valuable pieces of the Riesco Collection. Recruiting replacement staff to work in an unaccredited museum may not be straightforward.
Meanwhile, the British Museum is understood to be considering recalling any items currently out on loan to Croydon.
In his speech yesterday, Anderson said, “The decision by Croydon Council to remove items from its museum collection and sell them at public auction is in clear breach of the Museums Association code of ethics. I urge Croydon to revisit their decision.
“It is not too late for them to change their mind. However, if the sale goes ahead they will be barred from membership of the Museums Association. We will also call on Arts Council England to revoke Croydon’s status as an accredited museum.”
Mark Taylor, director of the MA, said: “The Museums Association has tried to engage with Croydon Council to help them proceed in an ethical manner. We met with them in June and have been in regular correspondence with them, but they have not taken any of our advice.
“Croydon used to be highly regarded for its museums, particularly the Lifetimes galleries at Croydon Clocktower and it is sad that a once successful service has fallen so far.”
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Coming to Croydon
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