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Why keeping artefacts locally makes sense to Britain’s Cuture Minister

A number of the arguments for the reunification of the surviving Elgin Marbles are based on the fact that it makes more sense to locate the sculptures close to their original context. The reasons include that of seeing the sculptures & their original location (which they were designed for) only a short distance away from one another, that the sculptures hold more significance to the local community than to people elsewhere & that the sculptures form part of a local sense of identity. The institutions that hold the Parthenon Marbles (& many other similarly disputed artefacts) dismiss such claims as nationalistic, rubbishing the idea that artefacts make any sort of local connection.

Often when new artefacts are discovered, attempts are made to keep them on display locally to where they were found, rather than being moved to a bigger museum further away. The reasons given are generally similar to those given for the Parthenon Marbles. Such cases generally receive positive publicity & support by many who agree that the reasons for keeping the artefacts in the area near where they were found make sense. Many of these campaigns are eventually successful & funds are found to raise money for local museums to keep hold of the treasures. The only difference between cases such as these & those such as the Parthenon Marbles, is that the campaigns are started before the artefacts are ever acquired by the big institutions and that the parties involved are typically all contained within he same country. Apart from this though, there is little difference in the reasoning (if anything the Parthenon Sculptures have a far stronger case in this regard, as they were designed to be seen in a specific context.

Birmingham Mail [1]

Museums launch joint appeal to keep The Staffordshire Hoard in the Midlands
Oct 6 2009

MUSEUM bosses and city leaders have launched an appeal to keep the prized Staffordshire Hoard in the Midlands.

More than 36,000 people have queued to see the Anglo-Saxon gold since it went on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which extended its opening hours in the gold rush.

Birmingham City Council and Stoke on Trent City Council are working together to acquire the haul, thought by experts to be worth a seven-figure sum.

Collection boxes will be set up so visitors to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery can contribute.

Coun Martin Mullaney, cabinet member for leisure sport and culture who launched the appeal yesterday, said: “Working together with The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, as well as other partner museums in Staffordshire, I know we can return the hoard to its rightful home in the region formerly known as Mercia.

“We are therefore, launching an appeal and asking for help from the public – who have already been extremely generous. Public donations help us to show national grant-giving and other funding bodies that there is strong local support for the acquisition. This often helps us to leverage far greater funds than would otherwise be possible from funding bodies. So even the smallest donation can help to make a big difference.”

Council leader Mike Whitby said: “This unique treasure has already excited audiences from across the world, and has shone a spotlight on the Midlands – providing an exciting link to an often overlooked past. The hoard is a truly regional treasure, that has global significance, and there is clearly a strong feeling that it should remain here in the Midlands.

“I hope everyone will get behind this appeal, and help us to work with our partners to provide the hoard with a fitting home in the future.”

Rita McLean, head of Birmingham museums and heritage, said: “This remarkable treasure was buried in the historic kingdom of Mercia, which covered a vast part of central England. It will greatly enhance our knowledge of the history of this region in the Anglo-Saxon period. We must make sure it is accessible to the public and academic communities alike.

“There are many stakeholders and partners right across the region that have an interest in this extraordinary discovery of Anglo-Saxon treasure, we will be working collaboratively with Staffordshire County Council, Lichfield District Council and the other key institutions who have also expressed a desire to be partners.

“I am also delighted that the British Museum and Portable Antiquities Scheme will continue to work with us on this major project.”

The hoard was discovered by metal detectorist Terry Herbert in July and may even exceed the country’s most famous collection of Anglo-Saxon gold found at Sutton Hoo.

Donations can also be made by cheque or online which allows for the re-claim of Gift Aid (which adds up to an extra 28p for every pound donated, at no extra cost to the donor) www.bmag.org.uk/support-us, alternatively send cheques payable to City of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery Development Trust to Hoard Appeal, c/o Kate Lawton, BMAG, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH.

Birmingham Post [2]

West Midlands News
Culture minister supports keeping gold hoard in West Midlands
Oct 8 2009 by Terry Grimley

The campaign to keep the Staffordshire Hoard in the West Midlands received a boost yesterday when culture minister Margaret Hodge pledged her support.

Speaking at the Museum Association conference in London, she said the hoard, which gives a new insight into the 8th century Midlands kingdom of Mercia, could play a vital role in helping local people feel a sense of place.

She said: “The Staffordshire Hoard offers an incredible – and completely unique – insight into Anglo Saxon times. It may take many years or decades for it to give up all its secrets but, while this scholarly research goes on, the pieces must go on public show.

“And I firmly believe their permanent home should be in the West Midlands where people will be able to enjoy – and marvel at – their Saxon heritage for generations to come, because finds like this tell us about our past, and help to define our sense of place and identity – and I think the queues around the block of people eager to see the find where it is currently displayed in Birmingham is testament to that”.

The hoard, consisting of about 1,500 mainly gold items, was discovered in a field near Brownhills in July by Terry Herbert, an amateur metal-detector enthusiast.

The find – the largest of its kind, which experts say will rewrite Anglo Saxon history – was made public last month.

Birmingham-based archaeologists have been involved in the retrieval of the hoard from the beginning, and a small selection of the finest items has attracted about 40,000 people to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery since they went on display there on September 25, with opening hours extended to cope with numbers.

Birmingham City Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council have joined forces in an attempt to retain the hoard in the region, and a fundraising appeal was launched on Monday.

Although it has been formally declared treasure, which opens the way for museums to bid for it, no cash value has yet been attached to it.

After the initial exhibition closes on Tuesday the hoard will be moved to the British Museum for evaluation, after which museums will have four months to raise funds to buy it.

Mrs Hodge’s support was welcomed yesterday by Coun Martin Mullaney, cabinet member for leisure and culture.

He said: “We want to work with the museum in Stoke-on-Trent and people like Lichfield and Tamworth district councils, because they were at the heart of Mercia, and the British Museum is supporting that.

“We have about 80 items on display in the gallery and there are 1,500 in total, so there are going to be issues of conservation and display which will require revenue funding.”

The exhibition is open until 11pm on Saturday as part of the Light Night programme of evening cultural events.