MLA downgrades Royal Cornwall Museum status - Museums Association

MLA downgrades Royal Cornwall Museum status

Status is temporarily downgraded over the sale of two paintings
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Rebecca Atkinson
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The Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro has had its accreditation status temporarily downgraded by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) as a result of the plan to sell two paintings from its collection.

The museum announced plans to sell the paintings – The Sea Maiden by Herbert Draper and Bondage by Ernest Normand – last year, to raise £3m to invest in its endowment fund.

In April, the Museums Association (MA) ruled the sale did meet its code of ethics. But the MLA has since said it hasn’t seen enough information to take a view on the sale. As a result, it has given the Royal Cornwall Museum provisional accreditation for six months.

Hilary Bracegirdle, director of the Royal Cornwall Museum, said: “The MA’s code of ethics is considered best practice, whereas the accreditation standard is a minimum standard, and we provided exactly the same information. We are still working with the MLA to resolve the problem, while retaining the right to appeal.”

The museum will resubmit its biennial review to the accreditation panel this month.

Despite the panel recommending postponing the sale, The Sea Maiden sold for £937,250 at auction at Christie’s on 16 June. Bondage failed to meet its reserve, but was later sold to a private buyer for just over £1m.

Alison Bevan, chairwoman of the South West Federation of Museums and director of Penlee House, said: “The committee feels the sale was a mistake and is relieved the MLA has shown disapproval.”

But Caitlin Griffiths, head of workforce development and events at the MA, said: “This is a difficult area and we appreciate that organisations must ensure any action meets the MLA’s standards. It would have been good if the Royal Cornwall Museum had waited for the MLA to make a decision before going ahead with the sale, but we hope it can resolve the situation.”

Links

To read the MA statement, click here

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