Wednesday, February 27, 2008

British museums advised to dispose of unused art

New York Times

A very brief article about If you are asked for a username and password type "egyptnews" in both fields.

The Museums Association, founded in 1889 to represent Britain’s museums and galleries, reversed a 30-year ban on selling art and urged its 1,500 members on Monday to get rid of objects that are gathering dust, the BBC reported. “Museums typically collect a thousand times as many things as they get rid of,” Mark Taylor, the association’s director, said in a posting on its Web site ( “Wonderful collections can become a burden unless they are cleared of unused objects.” The association told its members to give unused art to other museums or public institutions or, in exceptional circumstances, to sell it.

The full Museums Association post can be found on their website, together with a download of their new policy, the Disposable Digest (8 pages), and their advice for accomplishing this, the Disposable Toolkit (24 pages) - both in PDF format.

I know very little about museum management but it is my understanding that some museums would actually have to change their constitution in order to dispose of items, and this can be a fairly major process, which usually has to be preceded by a period of consultation and research.

The British Museum actually has its own Act of Parliament (The British Museum Act 1963), which has some fairly firm things to say about the conditions under which items may be disposed. I know even less about amending an Act than I do about museum management, but I bet that it is no walk in the park (and expensive too!).

Responses to this proposal should be quite interesting to follow.

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