Northampton Museum stripped of accreditation over selling Sekhemka statue
Northampton Sekhemka Statue - AFP/Leon Neal

CAIRO: The Northampton Museum and Art Gallery has lost its accreditation over its controversial decision to auction off an ancient Egyptian statue of Sekhema for £15 million last month, head of Antiquities Ministry’s restored artifacts department Ali Ahmed told The Cairo Post Friday.

Arts Council England (ACE), the U.K.’s main body which funds governmental grants to cultural institutions and museums, has stripped Northampton museum from its accreditation scheme and announced it will be ineligible for funding for the coming five years at least for selling the Egyptian statue, Ahmed said.
The Accreditation Scheme sets nationally agreed standards for museums in the U.K. and it supports museums across the U.K. to focus on standards and identify areas for development.

The Accreditation Scheme also has a strict criteria and code of ethics for the disposal of artifacts.

The sale of the statue, which was managed by the Northampton Borough Council, “breached the accredited standards for how museums manage their collections,” according to ACE’s statement on its Facebook page.

The decision followed the museum’s accreditation review that was carried out by the ACE last week, following the sale of the statue on July 11.
Councilor David Mackintosh, leader of the Northampton Borough Council, criticized the decision, saying it was “disappointing” and “puzzling,” according to the BBC.
“Nevertheless, we do believe that we have followed the correct process in making this sale and so are considering an appeal and are taking legal advice on how to go forward,” Mackintosh said.
This decision was welcomed by the Save Our Sekhemka Action Group.

“The Action Group hopes that this removal of accreditation will serve as a warning to other museums and Local Authorities: do NOT sell items from public collections – it is unethical and unprofessional and will ultimately mean that the great cultural assets the U.K. has in its various provincial museums will be a vague and distant memory in the near future,” the group said in a statement Friday.

In July 11, Northampton Borough Council sold the Sekhemka statue for nearly £16m at auction, which is considered to be a world record price for an Egyptian artifact, to help fund an extension to the town’s museum.

The 4,500-year-old statue was acquired by the second Northampton Marquees Spencer Joshua Alwyne Campton in Egypt between Sep. 1849 and April 1850, according to the house’s website.

The statue was then presented to the Northampton Museums and Art Gallery by the third Marquees Charles Douglas-Campton.
In December 2013, the Northampton Borough Council voted in favor of selling the statue, which had been a central piece of the town’s museum for 150 years, to Christie’s.

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