Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Sekhemka Action Group Survey Results Published

The Save Sekhemka Action Group have today published the results of their survey on the proposed sale of the Sekhemka statue.

In summary, the survey received 80 responses of which around half were resident in Northamptonshire with half from institutions and individuals across the world.

The respondents to this survey show overwhelming support for protecting the museum's accredited status and keeping the statue.

You can read the results of the survey here:

You can view a copy of the survey questions here:

If you have any queries, questions or comments, please do get in touch sekhemka@gmail.com

Monday, 10 December 2012

Museums Association Say NBC Consultation Inadequate

The Museums Association told last week how the consultation completed by Northampton Borough Council was anything but the "extensive and full consultation" it had recommended in advice given several months ago.

The Museums Association website has more information here: http://www.museumsassociation.org/museums-journal/news/01122012-consultation-into-sale-provokes-criticism

A recent article in Northampton's Herald and Post details that 172 responses were received with a report being prepared for the council to consider next steps. Sadly, Councillor Brandon Eldred was quoted as saying "we are keen to sell the statue for as much money as possible", demonstrating that the full implications of losing accredited status and the impact on the museum's future is still not fully understood. The article is linked below.


This action group completed their own survey, the results of which will be available soon.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Action Group Launches Own Survey on Proposed Sale of Sekhemka

The Save Sekhemka Action Group disapproves of the current NBC consultation document on the outcome of the sale of the Egyptian funerary statue, Sekhemka.

As an Action Group we welcome consultation but this document is slanted in favour of the money going to Delapre Abbey; the laudable plans for three museum alternatives are far too vague to inspire confidence.

In order to get a better picture of the public’s opinion the Action Group hereby launches its OWN survey; it does take NBC’s views into account but also offers an opportunity for sensible and detailed answers. Please read it and reply to it making your views clear in the comment boxes.

We will forward the result of the survey to NBC and ensure it gets publicised in the media.

We need a sensible debate on this issue and the Action Group welcomes a solution that enables the Central Museum to retain Sekhemka as well as expanding/improving museum premises in Guildhall Road and at Abington. There are many solutions – selling is NOT necessarily one of them.

So please make your voice heard. This survey will stay open until 30th November.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Please Send Your Comments!

Please leave your comments here - we want to hear if you have any memories of the statue, if you have seen it or want to see it, if you are for or against the sale or any thoughts at all on the wider implications of the proposed sale for Northampton and the museum.

We want to hear from you!

Click here to leave your comments: http://sekhemka.blogspot.co.uk/p/contact.html

Thursday, 4 October 2012


My name is Ruth Thomas and I am Chair of Northamptonshire Ancient Egyptian Society. I speak both in this role and as a museum professional.

Northampton is one of the largest towns in the UK and has a diverse and cosmopolitan population. We are proud of this diversity and keen to celebrate it.

In fact, even when the town itself shied away from promoting ethnic groups other than its own host population Northampton Museum collected widely from across the world and was at the forefront in providing expression to this multi-ethnicity.

Our collections have been drawn from the four corners of the earth, whether it be the superb Chinese pottery horse of the Tang dynasty, the Hindu sculpture of Devi or the Italian renaissance paintings. For over a century the museum has not been small-minded and parochial in its collecting policy but aware of its role in promoting Northampton’s multi-cultural approach in a multi-cultural town.

And this is why the sale of the ancient Egyptian scribe Sekhemka is  such a retrograde step.
Sekhemka stands alone in its quality, antiquity and craftsmanship. It is part of a civilisation which existed on the continent of Africa for over two thousand years. For children of African and African Caribbean heritage this is unique opportunity to reconnect with their own roots and to understand that Northampton Museum has something which represents not only British history but encompasses the achievements of people from across the world.

It also gives the message that Northampton Museum is aware of its role in educating and inspiring all the people of the town – as one school pupil said to me as he admired Sekhemka on a group trip for the National Curriculum “Oh I didn’t know you did Egypt”. Well, we should do Egypt and a whole lot more.
The removal of Sekhemka from the museum is a dramatic and signal move away from a world view of our history to a small-minded and elitist approach which will inevitably alienate our visitors and supporters in the years to come. This is what really concerns all of us here tonight.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


My name is Ruth Thomas and I am Chair of Northamptonshire Ancient Egyptian Society. I speak both in this role and as a museum professional.

1. One argument which has been advanced as important in the decision to sell off Sekhemka is that it is “not part of Northampton’s heritage”. The statue has strong local connections. The 2nd Marquess of Northampton acquired it and his son lent the statue to the newly opened Northampton Museum. Alwynne Compton, son of the 2nd Marquess was Chair of the first Museum Committee without which Northampton Museum would not exist as it does today. The Northampton family were generous lenders and donors of much of the founding collections of Northampton Museum.

2.  Sekhemka has iconic status in Northampton Museum. Until two years ago he had been on display in the museum for longer than any other exhibit, at least ninety years and probably more. The statue is not only a part of ancient Egypt but also an art object and a social history object and has been displayed as such. He is well known to visitors. In fact, such is his importance that he is the icon chosen on Northampton Borough Council’s website to represent the archaeology collections at Northampton Museum.

3. Northampton Museum, like most local museums in the country, has wide ranging collections, and this is its strength. Exhibitions can be varied and pertinent to prevailing interests in society. Sekhemka has been at the centre of various exhibitions devoted to egyptology  - always a popular subject with the general public. 

4. On a wider point the breadth of Northampton Museum’s collections is what gives it such appeal to local people. The beauty of the art collections, the quality of the ceramics and the antiquity of Sekhemka and the egyptology collection provide an exciting kaleidoscope of our human heritage.

5. Finally, Northampton Museum is not just a shoe museum or even a social history museum of shoe makers in the  industry’s active period.  If this is the policy of the council then such a museum should be  called “The Shoe Museum”.  If Northampton Museum specialises only in shoes its appeal will be much more limited especially to local residents who increasingly have less connection with the shoe industry  and who need and want a far broader canvas of collections in their local museum.