Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Friday, 8 February 2013

Should we sell off some of the family silver ?

I suppose like most people when watching news items on the television they tend to go in one ear and out of the other. That is unless the item is something closer to home pops up like on Meridian this evening that certainly took my attention. It appears according to reports that many local authorities are sitting on tens of thousands or even millions of pounds of artwork and artifacts, with most of it in storage. Regular readers of my blog will know that art and artifacts in local government control is this obscure subject that I have taken great interest especially in Thanet so they had my attention on this one.

I did find it ironic that after 39 years of chaos that the collection held by Thanet District Council will finally be audited at a time when art and artifacts in local government control are started to be looked at.
One thing is for sure I do have this satisfaction from the audit of knowing that I was right all along and that I have been lied to by a leader of TDC and his deputy and some council officers.
 I think the sad thing about allof this it is that they thought I was being political, being as I am a ex Labour  Councillor , when in fact all I was trying to do was  to put right a great wrong.
I bet even now some people think my motives are political.

However, getting back to my original thread of thought I think that in the near future all local authorities will start looking at the collections of art and artifacts they hold ,  more out of necessity due to cuts in local government funding.  I do not think Thanet District Council will be an exception given the projections for funding in 2014 and the amount of items of a value in the collection. So before a certain independent Councillor on TDC starts giving out the benefit of his wisdom I am going to lay out some factual information.

The TDC collection of art and artifacts came about on 1st April 1974. It comprises of items from the Borough of Margate and the Borough of Ramsgate collections and most of it is housed in the Margate Museum.
At the time of the local government changeover KCC took ownership of the library collections and retained unframed prints and pictures held in Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate library collections. At Ramsgate KKC also took into its ownership the Ramsgate town museum that was housed in Ramsgate library.
The charter trustees of Margate and Ramsgate retaining only items of  civic nature from their former borough status.

From Ramsgate, TDC acquired all items from Albion House except civic items that were passed over to the Ramsgate Charter Trustees.
 From Margate , TDC acquired items from Northdown House, Hartsdown House, the Tudor House Museum collection, the Victoria Road library museum collection and items from the Rowe bequest and Parker collection. Like Ramsgate, Margate civic items that were handed over to the Margate charter trustees.
It may sound straight forward but I can assure the reader that the Dunkirk evacuation was better organised. The records were poor, provenance was lost and every organisation received items they should not have had. An example being artifacts from the Parker collection KCC received that should have gone to TDC.

During the seventies and eighties works of art deemed to be valuable came under the control of TDC art department. With the exception of the Albion House items everything  else apart from valuable artwork was to find its way into storage at the old Town Hall building in Margate . With all these items available this led to calls for Margate to open a Museum and in 1987 a Museum was opened at Margate.

From 1987 to 2007 an amalgamation of collections  and items donated  have evolved to what is now known as the Margate Museum Collection which is owned by Thanet District Council that until recently has been a collection in chaos. Late in 2012 volunteers from the newly formed  Friends of the Margate Museum under  TDC  supervision  started to audit the collection of which I have commented on in the previous posting and soon TDC will have a full record of what it owns in this harsh climate . So what could be the future ? I have listed some points to think about to start with.
  1. The Margate Museum collection has items in duplicate, items that have no relevance to the collection or Thanet what so ever and items that have no provenance. Should these be sold off.
  2. Should the Margate Museum dedicate itself entirely to Margate and should all Ramsgate items be returned to Ramsgate their original place of origin 39 years ago now that Ramsgate has a functional Town Council.
  3. There are Broadstairs items in the Margate Museum collection should they find their way back to Broadstairs in the future.


Anonymous said...

They do seem to forget that quite often things in council/museum collections are gifted to them so shouldn't be theirs to sell.

I'd hate to think if my local collection was donated to the museum when I 'go' that they would just be told to sell it !

Tony Ovenden said...

Yes very true annon items with a strong local provenance should never be sold.
But there are times when museums take in items that have no relevance locally and they shouldn't have taken them in the first place. Items should only be collected to fit in with the museums collections policy and not because they are old. It is bad practice and can lead to problems like space and insurance costs. So a line has to be drawn somewhere. Unfortunately this has not happened at Margate for example they have a Victorian bottle from South Wales with no provenance in the collection. It takes up space when there should be a Margate bottle in its place.

Mary Allen said...

Don't think they should be sold off, they should remain where they belong, in their local area.

Anonymous said...

stuck up no nothing chatham house arsholes who think there so clever but are just a joke because they passed their exams and think they know exactly whats what in fact they know nothing not everybody who lived in prestedge was a low life there were some normal people that was 20 years ago when i lived there may be they should take the ruler out of there arse and think before speaking

Tony Ovenden said...

Annon, I am not sure where you are coming from.