Saturday, 3 November 2012

Action Group Set up Opposing Northampton Ancient Egyptian Statue Sale

Northampton Borough Council wants to deaccession and flog off an item from the local museum's collection (BBC News, 'Egyptian statue sale: Action group set-up in opposition 2.11.2012). The object concerned is an ancient Egyptian statue thought to have been given to the museum in 1870. The Conservative-run authority said the statue of Sekhemka worth £2m, would be sold because it was not a "key part" of Northampton's heritage. Locals disagree, the "Save Sekhemka Action Group"  wants the statue to remain as part of the town's collection.
The group is made up of several organisations such as The Northamptonshire Ancient Egyptian Society, Art Fund Northamptonshire and The Friends of Northampton Museums and Art Gallery. Ruth Thomas, vice chairman of Save Sekhemka Action Group (SSAG), said: "The group feels that people need to know about this otherwise this could be the start of us losing many of our valuable assets. "Sekhemka is one of our most important artefacts". SSAG said it has set up a website and Facebook page for the campaign.
The council is unrepentant, Brandon Eldred, cabinet member for community engagement, is quoted by the BBC as saying: "We want to make sure that when we sell it, we raise as much money as possible to reinvest back into our museums and heritage. At the same time, we will ensure the statue does not leave our town for anything less than we feel it is worth". Let us hope that the collectors across the sea who are rubbing their hands in greedy anticipation at the thought of museums all over Europe raising cash by deaccessioning objects for them to buy are watching this attempt to do just what they want very carefully. Have they no sympathies for the people of Northampton? I bet they have actually, because readers might remember the reactions of these same collectors themselves when the news first broke that Egypt wanted the mummy mask of Ka Nefer Nefer in St Louis Art Museum back. 

I wish the SSAG every success against cash grabbing philistinism from the city authorities.

Here's the website:
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In any case, should the piece be deaccessioned because unwanted, Northampton should jolly well send it back to Egypt with a nice thank-you note for letting them look after it for so long. The Borough Council has no record that the Museum purchased it. One can only conclude that it was donated to the Museum, by a donor who intended that it should stay there in perpetuity. It's only dodgy dealers and mafia bosses that seek to raise cash by flogging off other people's art works against their will.

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