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January 31, 2012

Should we safeguard our own heritage before hanging on to that of other countries?

Posted at 2:21 pm in Similar cases

The British Museum has strict rules in place that limit the selling off (known as deaccessioning) of artefacts in its collection, unlike museums in some other countries. This means that (with a few exceptions), the museum can only ever grow larger – the only way of shrinking it is to split it into separate smaller institutions.

In marked contrast to this though, in various places across Britain, churches (& related institutions) that are short of cash are ending up selling off their artefacts, to try & pay for the repair & upkeep of the buildings.

Surely, on a national level, we ought to be focussing more on maintaining our own heritage, rather than desperately trying to cling on to items that we took from foreign countries, during different eras, when such acts were tolerated more than they would be today?

The Independent

The great Church art sell-off runs into trouble
Parishes accused of off-loading treasures just to fund building maintenance
By Andrew McCorkell
Sunday, 26 June 2011

Increasing numbers of churches are trying to sell valuable historic artefacts and paintings to pay for repairs and upkeep. But the great parish sell-off, which could turn into a sort of high-class countrywide boot sale, is running into opposition.

A case to be heard at the end of this summer will test the freedom of parishes to sell off their prize possessions. At the centre of it is a 16th-century helmet that has hung above a marble tomb at Wootton St Lawrence Church, in Hampshire, for more than 300 years. Known as an armet, the Wootton artefact marked the resting place of Sir Thomas Hooke and was sold for £54,000 at auction in December to an anonymous American collector.
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