November 28, 2010
When asked about returning the Parthenon Marbles, the British Museum likes to fall back on the arument that they couldn’t do so without a change in the law – making it a matter for the government. Yet at the same time, the government indicates that the issue is one for the trustees of the British Museum.
The government would like you to believe that the British Museum is entirely independent of government – the reality though is that the two are closely tied together – seeing the British Museum as a completely separate entity that is in complete control of all decisions is an inaccurate understanding of things. This is evidenced here, by the fact that (for whatever peculiar reasons) the British Museum can’t access large amounts of its own money because it is being with held by the government.
The Art Newspaper
Treasury withholds museum donations
British Museum is denied access to £42.5m of its own cash
By Martin Bailey | From issue 218, November 2010
Published online 5 Nov 10 (News)
LONDON. UK national museums, including the British Museum and the National Gallery, have found it difficult to access over £50m donated by philanthropists, because of Treasury regulations. These are funds from donations and bequests which went into museums’ financial reserves and later fell under government control.
The scale of the potential problem is enormous, since the reserves for all national museums total £285m. The museums have not publicised the difficulty, fearing that this might rock the boat during delicate discussions with government.
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