Croydon approves controversial sale of Chinese ceramics

ACE will now assess museum's Accreditation status
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Rebecca Atkinson
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Croydon Council last night approved the sale of 24 items from its antique Chinese ceramics collection, despite objections from the Museums Association (MA) , Arts Council England (ACE) and the local community.

At a meeting held last night a council committee recommended the proposed sale at auction, with the proceeds invested in the town’s cultural services including local arts centre, Fairfield Halls.

Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, families and learning, said: “Clearly this has been a difficult decision to make, and one that we have not taken lightly.

“[But] the costs of maintaining this collection do not provide value for money to Croydon taxpayers, whereas the possibility of investing in the future of the Fairfield Halls will breathe new life into culture in Croydon for residents to experience and enjoy in the 21st century.”

Responding to last night’s decision to sell, Scott Furlong, director of the acquisitions, exports, loans and collections at ACE, said: “It is of great importance that the public retain trust in museums to look after the collections held in their name. We are concerned that this trust may be undermined if disposals from public collections are seen to be driven by financial considerations”

He confirmed that ACE would be assessing Croydon Council’s Accreditation status in the coming months.

The MA has also objected to the sale on the grounds that it does not meet its Code of Ethics on disposal.

David Anderson, president of the MA and director general of National Museum Wales, said: “Croydon’s decision to sell valuable Chinese ceramics threatens not just its own reputation but that of the museum sector as a whole.”

The collection, made up of about 660 items dating from 2500 BC to the 19th century, was bequeathed to Croydon by local businessman and collector Raymond Riesco under the condition that it had to be on permanent display.

The 24 items identified for sale have already been removed from display at the Riesco Gallery in the Croydon Clocktower.

A petition to stop the sale had 588 signatures at the time of writing.

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