MA to bar Croydon from membership over unethical disposal

Geraldine Kendall, 11.11.2013
Sale in "clear breach" of the code of ethics, says MA president
The Museums Association (MA) is to bar Croydon Council from future membership if it proceeds with its planned sale of Chinese ceramics at Christie’s in Hong Kong on 27 November.

The MA’s president David Anderson will announce the decision in his presidential address at the MA conference in Liverpool today.

Anderson will say: “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: "It is disappointing that Croydon appears set on selling these beautiful and significant items from the Riesco Collection of Chinese Ceramics.

"The MA 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.”

Taylor added: “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.”

Anderson will also use his presidential address to question the way museums are funded. He will say: “Research conducted by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Arts and Business, and data from DCMS itself shows that public sector cuts have fallen hardest on museums dependent on local authority funding, particularly those in the poorest regions of England.

“With around three quarters of all UK philanthropy being sucked into institutions in London, the time has come for us to seriously question if the funding structure is still fit for purpose - if it ever was.”

Update
11.11.2013

Campaigners attempting to force a judicial review of the Croydon sale have this morning withdrawn their court action, citing a lack of funds to pay ongoing legal costs.

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