A dodo from Kendal Museum's collection

Future of two taxidermy collections is in jeopardy

Rebecca Atkinson, Issue 111/11, p7, 01.11.2011
Local groups worried about two stuffed-bird collections being held in storage by Sefton Council
The future of two “at risk” taxidermy collections held by Sefton Council remains undecided amid criticism from local groups about the proposed disposal.

The Echalaz Collection of stuffed birds has been kept in storage since 1999. The council said it was “unfit for display” and that it did not have the money nor the specialist staff to look after it.

The Pennington Collection of stuffed birds, which is also at risk of deterioration, was previously on display at the now closed Botanic Gardens Museum in Southport.

Although most of the museum’s collection will transfer to the Atkinson Art Gallery when it reopens in 2012, the council said there will not be enough room for the taxidermy collection.

Last year, it was proposed that Kendal Museum would take on some or all of the Echalaz Collection, but this has not been taken forward.

Concerns were raised about the relationship between the museum and the British Historical Taxidermy Society (BHTS), although Kendal Museum said: "Kendal Museum has worked with BHTS professionally, under the agreed premise that both organisations are dedicated to saving taxidermy collections for the nation. The museum has only worked in this capacity with BHTS and has had no dealings with them in respect of buying and selling taxidermy."

Local community groups and collectors have also raised objections to the disposal. According to reports in the local press, Sefton Council turned down an £18,000 offer to buy the Echalaz Collection.

In a statement, the council said: “Selling [the collections] to a dealer would mean that they could be lost to the public for ever, which would contradict the wishes of the people who donated them.”

A sale could also conflict with the Museums Association’s code of ethics, and could result in the museum service losing its accreditation status. Community groups have argued that the collections should remain in the area.

Sefton Council is in talks with National Museums Liverpool (NML) about taking some of the collections that are deemed to be of national importance.

A council spokesman said: “The collections are with us and we are in discussions with NML on where they may go.”

Update
03.11.2011

This article was updated to include a longer comment from Kendal Museum regarding its relationship with the BHTS.

Comments

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03.11.2011, 11:25
Hi Lee - the pictured dodo model is actually in Kendal Museum's collection.
02.11.2011, 15:41
Is the dodo model in the image part of either collection? We'd happily give it a home next to our dodo bone display if it's available!