The Museums Association is seeking urgent talks with Croydon Council to question them about a plan to sell 24 items from their 230-piece antique Chinese ceramics collection.
They were bequeathed to Croydon by local
businessman and collector Raymond Riesco in 1959 and include Tang
dynasty tomb models and Ming dynasty bowls dating from neolithic
times to the 19th century.
The council are hoping to raise £13m towards
redeveloping their Fairfield Halls property, www.museumsassociation.org reports.
Nick Merriman, convenor of the MA's ethics
committee, said: "We do not have much information at the moment,
but we understand they are proposing to sell these works to fund
work on Fairfield. The council should follow the formal procedure
according to the code of ethics. At the moment it is not clear to
us that they are doing so.
"We would particularly like to know why the
collection is not considered core, as we understand it was part of
the founding deposit at the museum."
Terms of Bequest
A comment under the museumsassociation.org
report from Judith Martin, project organiser of the Industrial
Buildings Preservation Trust, said she had found a mention on the
council's own website saying Riesco had gifted Oriental china
"...to the Corporation on the condition that they were not split
She added: "If Croydon can't afford to show
or insure the bequest, it should give the entire lot to the British
Museum, where I gather some has been on loan anyway. Flogging
bequests... is a guaranteed way to ensure no one will leave
anything to the public estate again, thus impoverishing future
generations even more."
A council spokesman toldATG: "The decision
to sell the items, which are currently being stored in a secure
central London location, comes after escalating insurance and
security costs meant that the full collection was becoming too
expensive to maintain. The council is currently seeking
stakeholders' views including national organisations and
"The proposal has the backing of the Riesco
family, providing the proceeds of the sale are used to support
culture in the borough. It would see income from the sale be
invested in the redevelopment of the Fairfield Halls.
"There is also the possibility the Ashcroft
Theatre could be renamed the Riesco Theatre in tribute to the
family's contribution to the borough's culture."
The proposals are due to be considered at the council's
corporate services committee on Wednesday, July 24.