Sunday 27 January 2019

How Safe are Britain's Museums and Art Collections Now?

"Taking back control?" The Sunday Times front page says Tories are now preparing to declare martial law in the event of disorder following a no deal Brexit.
powers available under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 would allow ministers to impose curfews, travels bans, confiscate property and deploy the armed forces to quell rioting. An anonymous Whitehall source told the newspaper: The over-riding theme in all the no-deal planning is civil disobedience and the fear that it will lead to death in the event of food and medical shortages. The newspaper quoted another source as saying that [...] The only other thing that would be comparable would be something like a major Europe-wide war.  

Given the total unpredictability of events over the next few weeks, and that feelings (and rhetoric) are running high, perhaps we should be asking, what contingency plans do British museums have in place in the event that things take a turn in the same direction as the Egyptian January 25 2011 'revolution' just seven years ago that brought the army into power there?

In the shambles, will the youth of Britain form a human chain around the British Museum? And Wroxeter, St Albans  and Colchester? The moment any serious civil unrest breaks out in the UK, and the army is deployed in the streets, the self-centred and complacent antiquitist argument about countries like the UK providing a safe haven for antiquities taken from foreign lands where the unstable natives 'can't be trusted to look after them' falls flat on its face.  

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