The Art Fund's response to Southampton City Council's proposal to sell works of art
Southampton City Council has announced that it plans to sell two works of art from Southampton City Art Gallery's collection - Alfred J. Munning's After the Race and either Eve or Crouching Woman by Auguste Rodin - to help fund a new museum building project.
The Art Fund encourages museums to make the best use of their collections, including disposing of items where appropriate, preferably through transfer to another public collection. We support the Museums Association (MA) guidelines which state that disposal should not be undertaken ‘principally for financial reasons, except in exceptional circumstances’. We also believe that if works of art are sold, any funds raised should be ring-fenced to acquire new works for the permanent collection.
Whilst Southampton’s plans to enhance its cultural provision are welcome, The Art Fund believes that raising the funds in part by selling important artworks from its Gallery sets a dangerous precedent, effectively sanctioning the disposal of art from publicly-owned collections to support other areas of public sector provision. We urge the Council to explore all other avenues before selling any of its permanent collection to raise funds.
Notes to editors:
1. The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art.
2. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections.
3. Recent achievements include: helping secure Titian’s Diana and Actaeon for the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London in February 2009 with a grant of £1 million; helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK.
The Art Fund is a Registered Charity No. 209174