Kentucky museum to return Royal Armouries collection

Collaboration between organisations ends after 10 years
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Rebecca Atkinson
More than 250 objects from the national collection of arms and armour are to be returned to the UK after a decade-long collaboration between the Royal Armouries and the Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, came to an end.

In a statement, the American museum said it was moving away from a focus on arms towards more general displays. As a result it will ship the objects back to the UK at the end of January, where they will go on display at the Tower of London and the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.

As part of the agreement signed in 2004, the Frazier covered the costs relating to the “display, interpretation, conservation and wellbeing” of the collection on display in Louisville.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Armouries said it financially supported the rotation of the displays, including staff travel, but that changes in shipping regulations for art objects meant the process had become “highly onerous”. The last time the objects were refreshed was in 2012.

The Royal Armouries will now focus on developing plans to enhance its site in Leeds and is also looking to create new partnerships elsewhere. However, following failed attempts in 2010-11 to tour two exhibitions in North America, the organisation has made no further attempts to expand into the US or Canada.

The Royal Armouries had previously worked with the Frazier Museum to develop a North American Strategy, which included creating revenue streams for the museum.

However, the organisation’s 2012/13 accounts state that the Kentucky museum is “no longer regarded as a related party” and it no longer had any formal representation on the Frazier’s board.

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