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MGS statement on the potential sale of collections by Moray Council

MGS statement on the potential sale of collections by Moray Council

Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) was concerned to hear of Moray Council’s plans to “approve the development of options to create a sustainable future for the service, including the engagement of auction houses to explore possible sales of items from the collection” to be raised at a council meeting on 27 September.

Based on the information available in the public domain, MGS believed that the sales would be considered unethical if they were to proceed in the way outlined. As the National Development Body for museums and galleries in Scotland, MGS had a duty to inform Moray Council of the inherent risks were they to proceed with these sales. In a letter sent to council members ahead of the meeting, MGS advised that the proposed actions placed Moray Council and it’s museum service at risk of being removed from the UK-wide museums Accreditation Scheme. The loss of Accreditation could affect the ability to apply for grant funding in future as membership of the Scheme is a requirement for many major funding bodies across the UK, including MGS.

There has been a precedent set for this concern – not least the case of Northampton Borough Council which in 2014 had its Accredited status revoked following a collections sale which breached the Museum Association’s Code of Ethics.

MGS recognised that the current financial climate means that museums’ governing bodies face difficult choices in trying to maintain services, and extended an offer to Moray Council to assist them in navigating the issue in a way that is both ethical and sustainable in the long term.

During the council meeting on 27 September, Moray Council committed to entering into a dialogue with MGS to find a sustainable way forward for the service.

The text of the full letter sent to Moray Council ahead of their meeting on Wednesday 27 September is available to download below.

MGS Letter to Moray Council on 26 September 2017

MGS response to proposed auction house sales Moray Sep 2017 (PDF, 319KB)
Published 28 September 2017