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Pioneering museum and art project to wrap up with auction

Published: 9 November 2021

A pioneering project of ours, funded by the Museums Association, has been hailed a success after new homes were found for more than 2,000 pieces of art and other historical artefacts.


Launched at the end of 2019, the pilot project aimed to find suitable homes for a vast collection of more than 2,300 objects, artworks, archaeological and decorative pieces which made up our Museums and Loans Service collection and our Schools Library Service (SLS).

The SLS closed in 2018 and following that, the collection was taken to our Buxton Museum and Art Gallery to be temporarily stored.

The museum did not have the space to house the objects in the long term and the majority of the pieces were not suitable for display as they did not align with other collections and themes.

Staff at the museum and art gallery successfully applied to the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund (administered by the Museums Association) for a grant to fund a project to source appropriate homes for the pieces, with the main aim of keeping them in the public domain and on public display where at all possible.

The project was selected for funding by the Museums Association because it represented a model of best practice in adhering to its code of ethics around dispersal of objects.

The project has now seen more than 2,000 objects re-homed in this country and abroad, with an auction being held on Friday 19 November 2021 to dispose of the remaining items. Any profits will be returned to the museum and art gallery to support its work.

Derbyshire County Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture, Tourism and Climate Change, Councillor Barry Lewis said:

“The transfer of collections from the Schools Library Service to museums and other venues has been a pioneering and very exciting project for us to be involved in.

“For a long time, museums have been nervous about the disposal of objects, so we welcomed the confidence the Museums Association placed in us to get this right. It is an innovative project which has seen items being re-homed in a transparent way, carefully considering where the best place is for the object while ensuring that it is not lost to the public, where possible.

“We are very pleased that the project has been so successful, with more than 2,000 pieces including pictures, ceramics, glass and other artefacts being placed at more than 100 museums, galleries and collections.

“Any money raised will go straight back to the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery to be invested in the care of the collections, to ensure that visitors especially students and children, continue to have the opportunity to enjoy the artworks and history held in the collections there.”

Collections Development Officer for the Museums Association Sarah Briggs said:

“Disposal is a vital part of good museums practice to enable future collecting and keep museums relevant to their communities. The team at Buxton have done incredible work to ensure that these wonderful objects find new publicly accessible homes instead of sitting in a store. We’re sure that the work will be an inspiration to other museums.’’