Wedgwood fundraising could take a year

Patrick Steel, 26.03.2012
But no plans to sell collections in the meantime
The Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent will remain open and there are currently “no plans to sell anything” said Bob Young, senior partner at administrators Begbies Traynor, athough it could take a year to raise the money.

Following the attorney general’s decision last week to uphold a high court judgement that the museum’s collections could be sold in order to meet a pension deficit of £135m, Begbies Traynor has a series of meetings coming up with the Art Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to discuss how the collections might remain in the public domain.

Museums Journal understands that arts minister Ed Vaizey is visiting Barlaston this Friday to discuss the future of the museum.

The collection, estimated to be worth around £18m, is now being valued and, according to Young, the Art Fund is taking the lead on fundraising to save the collections, which will include a public appeal. No funds will come directly from government, he said, but the HLF may contribute the £5.8m which it granted to the museum in 2005 rather than use its clawback option.

It was expected, he added, that a new and properly constituted charitable trust with a new director and new trustees would be set up, and whichever people or bodies put up the cash would stipulate who the trustees of the museum should be.

But Stephen Deuchar, the director of the Art Fund, said: “Just because the attorney general has removed the legal barriers to selling the collection, this does not mean it should now be sold.

"We are determined to prevent the collection from being sold on the open market, and are urgently exploring ways in which we can avoid asking our supporters and the public to pay to save the collection.”

Museums Journal has also learned that Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton, which owns the Minton Archive, is looking to redevelop the Wedgwood site at Barlaston and is keen that the archive and the museum collections are displayed together there.

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