Tuesday, 16 July 2013

July 15th 2013 Submission in Support of the Redisplay of Sekhemka

The following statement was delivered at the council meeting on July 15th by SSAG:

"My name is Ruth Thomas and I am deputy Chair of the Save Sekhemka Action Group. I speak in support of the motion to redisplay the statue of Sekhemka.

Northampton Museum needs some good news ! The last year has not been a good one for the museum. The bad publicity surrounding the proposed sale of Sekhemka has given the museum national and international notoriety. The reputation of Northampton Museum has been tarnished.

The reasons put forward by the council for the removal of the statue from display include the expense of insuring it. However, a Freedom of Information request to the council has  revealed that the insurance cover in 2010, the year when Sekhemka was still ondisplay, was actually lower than it had been previously. Furthermore, no additional security arrangements were imposed by the insurers.

The Friends of the Museum have already offered £8,000 towards the purchase of an even more secure display case.

If the morality of the decision to sell were not enough, the legality has now become the key issue. The Deed of Gift of 1880 has strict provisos regarding the collection and preventing its disposal.

For nearly three years the statue of Sekhemka has not been displayed and, even worse, no member of the public has been allowed to see it. This is in contravention of the 1880 Deed of Gift which states that it be “accessible to the public at all proper times”.

This council has been accused of not listening to people. A change of heart would not be regarded as a sign of weakness but an indication that common sense has prevailed. A large body of informed opinion supports the redisplay of Sekhemka – he is now known throughout the world. There is no other object in Northampton Museum which receives such popular attention.

His redisplay would attract many visitors to Northampton Museum from within and outside the town. There would be a vast amount of really good publicity for Northampton Museum and a reawakening of interest in the ancient Egyptian collection - and the Borough Council would be respected for its good judgement."

The motion was defeated. Three people spoke in favour of the redisplay but the motion was defeated by a Conservative majority. The leader of the council David Mackintosh said that the council are determined to auction the statue as soon as possible.

The fight goes on.