Statement from the Museums Association Council: disciplinary action against Bury Metropolitan Borough Council

The Museums Association (MA) Council condemns the actions of Bury Metropolitan Borough Council, and supports the decision of the Disciplinary Committee to severely reprimand Bury MBC.

MA council also supports the recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee that should Bury MBC, having recently resigned from membership, wish to reapply to join the MA, any application must be considered and approved by MA Council to ensure that a commitment to uphold the Code of Ethics has been demonstrated.

It is the opinion of MA Council that through its actions Bury MBC has demonstrated a complete disregard for its responsibility to care for and preserve Bury's cultural heritage.

It has damaged the reputation of Bury Museum and Art Gallery, which hitherto had been a responsible guardian of its collections, and has also jeopardised public trust in museums.

Therefore MA Council calls on all public and private museums and heritage funding bodies to consider carefully any decision to award funding to Bury MBC. MA Council also calls on the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to remove Bury Museum and Art Gallery's status as a Registered Museum.


The decision to severely reprimand Bury MBC was taken on the grounds that through the sale of a painting, on the 17th of November 2006, from the collection of Bury Museum and Art Gallery to address a shortfall in the Council's budget, Bury MBC contravened the MA's Code of Ethics.

The sale of A Riverbank, by L.S Lowry contravenes the following principle of the Code of Ethics:

6.13 Refuse to undertake disposal principally for financial reasons (either to raise income or decrease expenditure). Apply any money raised as a result of disposal, if this exceptional circumstance arises, solely and directly for the benefit of the museum's collection.

It is the expectation that all members of the MA will abide by the Code of Ethics, and this expectation has not been met by Bury MBC.