The £16m sale of the Egyptian statue Sekhemka saw Northampton Museums Service barred from MA membership last year

MA hosts first collections at risk summit

Patrick Steel, 19.01.2015
UK sector bodies to draft statement on unethical disposal
The Museums Association (MA) hosted the first collections at risk summit last Thursday, during which sector bodies agreed to work on a joint statement setting out the sector’s view on unethical financially-motivated disposal.

The summit was prompted by Northampton Borough Council’s sale last year of an ancient Egyptian statue, which contravened the MA’s code of ethics and led to the council being barred from MA membership, having its Accreditation withdrawn by Arts Council England (ACE), and being turned down for a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) application.

It also comes in response to the findings of the MA's Cuts Survey 2014, that one in 10 museums had considered financially-motivated disposal in the last year.

Attending were representatives from the MA, ACE, HLF, the Association of Independent Museums, the Art Fund, the National Museum Directors' Council, Museums Galleries Scotland, Cymal: Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales, the Northern Ireland Museums Council, and the National Archives.

It was agreed that the bodies would work on a joint statement, setting out the sector’s view on the issue of unethical financially-motivated disposal.

Other sanctions that could be applied to those museums and authorities that undertake unethical disposal were also discussed.

Alistair Brown, the MA’s policy officer, said: “It was a very positive meeting. The sector agrees that it needs to do its utmost to protect collections from unethical financially-motivated disposal, and we are working on a joint statement setting out the sector’s broad view on the issue.

“In future, where museums or their governing bodies are thinking of financially-motivated disposal, they will be aware of the position of the museum sector across the UK.”

A news analysis in the February edition of Museums Journal will look at some of the issues discussed at the summit.


Representatives from the Association of Independent Museums were at the summit.


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27.01.2015, 14:12
At last some action! Thank you! It will encourage other campaigners as well as museum staff who may be caught between a rock and a hard place. But PLEASE do NOT dither, think, debate and publish so we all know where we are. Make the consequences of unethical disposals hard hitting; encourage better co-operation between all museums so that when disposal may be necessary due to lack of proper expertise, space or what ever other museums can step in to care. Culture does matter!