Thursday, 30 October 2014
Wednesday, 1 October 2014
Northampton Museums Service has been barred from Museum Association membership for at least five years.
David Fleming, chairman of the MA's Ethics Committee, said: “We do appreciate the huge financial pressure that many local authority museums are under at the present time, but the MA's Code of Ethics provides for such a sale only as a last resort after other sources of funding have been thoroughly explored. At a time when public finances are pressured it is all the more important that museum authorities behave in an ethical fashion in order to safeguard the long-term public interest. Museums have a duty to hold their collections in trust for society. They should not treat their collections as assets to be monetised for short-term gain."
We wholeheartedly agree and have been saying this for many months. Sadly the worst has happened for Northampton's museums.
You can read the decision in full here:
Friday, 1 August 2014
Thursday, 24 July 2014
This news makes it all the more important that Arts Council England (ACE) and the Museums Association demonstrate the consequences of such unethical and damaging actions as selling publicly owned museum objects for short term profit, and punish Northampton Council by removing their Accredited status.
This will hurt and humiliate our Town in the short term, but at least it will serve as a warning to others who would try to cash in on the museum collections we hold in trust for the future. It might also prevent the Cllr Mackintosh and his Ruling Group from taking any more Government, Lottery and Charity grants under the false pretenses that they are professionally and ethically equipped to care for our culture and heritage.
Both keeping and losing accreditation are two terrible outcomes of this whole episode - the damage was already done when Sekhemka was sold.
A decision is expected from ACE within the next two weeks. The Museums Association will make a decision in September 2014.
Friday, 11 July 2014
- We will continue to oppose the turning of Sekhemka into a commodity to be sold on the rich persons equivalent of E-bay, therefore we will oppose the export of the statue from the UK if that is what transpires, whoever the new owner of Sekhemka is. Particularly if that owner is a private individual who will not put Sekhemka on free public display. If Sekhemka is not to stay on open display in the UK his only legitimate destination is a public museum in Egypt.
- We will also continue to expose the way this unethical, unnecessary and short sighted sale was undertaken, the many legal and financial questions which surround the sale and the conduct in public office of those whose mission it became to rob Northampton of both a cultural jewel and its cultural credibility. We hope the local and national Media will join us in that quest for information and answers.
- We hope the media will also ask Cllr Mackintosh why he insisted on undermining confidence in the Conservative party's core policy in Arts and Culture, promoting philanthropy and donation. As Alan Moore has pointed out, thanks to the sale of Sekhemka, no-one would dream of donating something valuable to a public museum if at some stage it can be taken away and flogged off to the highest bidder in a commercial fire sale
Cllr Mackintosh and Northampton Borough Council announced last night that "...it will retain around £8million (55 per cent of the proceeds), while the remainder will be remitted to Lord Northampton (around £6million)."
- What the Council statement did not say was that the auction costs [around 15%] and taxes will be deducted from that figure, and we might also add the over £40,000 of council Tax payers money spent on legal advice to facilitate the sale. Thus the Council Tax payers of Northampton could see scarcely half of the headline figure spent in the Town, ring fenced or not.
- Equally, while the statement was open about the fact that the Marquis of Northampton will be receiving a windfall of over £5 million, the statement did not enlighten the Council Tax payers of Northampton why, when NBC allegedly "owned" Sekhemka, they will be adding to the fortune of the multimillionaire Marquis and paying for it by becoming pariahs in the museum and heritage world. Like the Museums Association, we believe that the ownership of Sekhemka was never legally resolved and we will be consulting with colleagues to see if an investigation can be mounted into whether Councillor Mackintosh and Northampton Borough Council misled the public, the media and Christie's by saying they did own the statue.
In the statement Cllr Mackintosh has also attempted to spin his way out of the almost universal condemnation his actions have caused to be dumped on Northampton's name and in particular the likelihood that Northampton will lose its Museums Association accreditation, along with the credibility in museum matters which it has already lost.
His statement says
"Work has already begun on drawing up detailed plans for the [museum] extension, which will underpin the growth of Northampton’s Cultural Quarter. The Borough Council is in the process of developing a funding package to take the extension forward, including putting together a bid for support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Council is also continuing to talk to the Arts Council about museum accreditation."
- We are sure it does. Councillor Mackintosh was explicitly warned by Arts Council England and the Museums Association Ethics Committee that Museums Association accreditation was in severe danger were Sekhemka to be sold and with it access to many significant funding streams to supply the £7-8 million which will still be required to build the still hypothetical museum extension, even with Sekhemka's cultural equivalent of blood money.
Cllr Mackintosh also said: "This money will allow us to realise our exciting plans for the future of the Museum Service. Every penny is ring-fenced for the Museum Service and we will now make our museum redevelopment plans a reality."
- We would point out that without the commitment to display the cream of all the collections and to hold a research archive curated by the specialist curatorial staff and teachers who have been made redundant or not replaced, the Museum Service has no future. Museums exist for their collections held in trust for the future and the expertise to display, describe and bring them to life for visitors and researchers.
- We would also point out there were no "Museum development plans" when Councillor Mackintosh first wanted to sell Sekhemka [such plans were first mentioned when it became clear that the original plan to allegedly give the money to the Delapre Abbey Trust was a non starter as far as the Museums Association Ethics Committee was concerned. There still are no such detailed, costed, plans. Unless you count a cafe and shoe shop with a small gallery space.
Q: What do you say to a Northampton Egyptologist?
A: Two Cappuccino's and a Skinny Latte please
For further comments, additional material including documents or images or to request interviews with members of the Save Our Sekhemka Action Group team please contact
Thursday, 10 July 2014
Obviously we are heartbroken at what Cllr Mackintosh has caused to happen at Christie's tonight.
We hope you will understand this is a complex issue and we need to take some time to look at the details of the auction.
We will be issuing a full statement and offering interviews tomorrow (Friday)
Wednesday, 9 July 2014
There are just twenty four hours left to prevent the "unethical sale" of the statue of Sekhemka at Christie's and the only way we can do that is to help the Egyptian Government's legal moves to prevent the sale of Sekhemka with a show of people power.
The Cabinet of Northampton Borough Council meets tonight to discuss the conservation of the Battlefield of Northampton. They are only doing this because local people worked together to prevent Council Leader David Mackintosh driving through a plan against all advice to bulid on the site. Now we need to show Cllr Mackintoish that he has another losing battle on his hands over the "unethical" sale of Sekhemka.
We are going to send this petition to every member of Northampton Council as well as Christies, the Marquis of Northampton and the Media but we need as many names on it as possible. If you haven't already done so please ask everyone you know or who you can contact to sign and share the link on the Social Media.
- Remember Councillor Mackintosh has not answered this key question- if Northampton Borough Council really owns the statue, why are they giving the Marquis of Northampton 45% of the sale price- that could be well over £2 million pounds?
- And why are the Council paying this huge amount of money to the Marquis when they have already spent over £40,000 to facilitate the sale and are paying all the legal and auction costs?
1. E-mail the Egyptian Embassy in London and thank them for intervening to protect the culture we share. Ask them to take out an injunction to stop the sale becaue the ownership of the statue is not clear.
The sale of Sekhemka is unethical, unecessary and counter productive and no-one in politics or the museums world has defended it except Councillor Mackintosh. The only person who will gain from the sale is the Marquis of Northampton, one of the richest men in Britain who will get over £2 million at no cost to himself. Please take this last chance to help defend the culture we share.