There are promising signs for the future of the Wedgwood Museum thanks to planning approval given to redevelop the site where it is based near Stoke-on-Trent.
As previously reported in ATG, a legal
loophole left the museum trust liable for a £134m pension shortfall
linked to 7500 former staff of the Waterford Wedgwood company,
which went into administration in 2010. The museum's collection was
under threat of sale to partially cover that.
Although discussions over a rescue package
to resolve that issue still seem to be ongoing, the redevelopment
plan of Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton's (WWRD) factory complex
at Barlaston certainly shows the museum space as part of the scheme
and it has been reported that new museum viewing galleries and
improved archive store facilities to allow better visitor access to
the reserve collection are included.
The collection, donated over 250 years by
the Wedgwood family, employees and supporters, includes not just
ceramics but manuscripts, documents, correspondence, factory
equipment, trials, original models and fine art.
The unique holding of objects and documents
is a vital, UNESCO-endorsed archive for students of arguably the
world's best-known pottery, giving important insights into how the
company, processes and industry developed from the 18th
ATG asked WWRD for more details about the
plans, and what it all entailed for the collection, but they had
not responded by the time we went to press.
However, their chief financial officer,
Anthony Jones, toldMuseums Journal: "While our plans do not address
the complex issue of the future of the collection, we remain
confident that it will remain at Barlaston.
"We recognise the importance of the
collection and are working closely with the administrator to play
our part in securing the future."
As reported in ATG in September last year,
Art Fund chairman David Verey had revealed that he and his staff
had been working on a plan to save the collection in the public
interest while satisfying creditors' demands as far as
He said at the time: "Over the last few
months we have been working closely with the administrator, the
Wedgwood family, government and leading legal firm Mishcon de Reya
to see if there might be an alternative way for the PPF to recoup
some of the assets without it having to sell the collection at all
- and we are hopeful we have found it.
"It will involve a long legal procedure
which, although it may take some months, could recover for the PPF
a sum greater than the value of the collection."
But this month, also in the Museums Journal, Bob Young
from the administrator at Begbie Traynor said: "The case is still
with lawyers. There is no further action at the moment."