St Albans council could save artwork from being disposed of by county council

PUBLISHED: 16:33 23 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:33 23 April 2018

St Albans Museum Palladian facade.

St Albans Museum Palladian facade.

Archant

Artwork owned by Herts County Council could be displayed at St Albans’ new museum and gallery.

Chimneys by Fred Uhlman is one of 428 works which are being consulted on for disposal. Picture: Herts County Council.Chimneys by Fred Uhlman is one of 428 works which are being consulted on for disposal. Picture: Herts County Council.

The county council (HCC) has been consulting the public about disposing of 428 works out of its 1,826-piece collection.

The consultation closed on April 1 and a HCC spokesperson said: “The feedback from members of the public is currently being analysed and will be incorporated into a report.

“If a petition is due to be presented at cabinet panel, then this initial report will be heard in the meeting in response to the petition. If a petition is not presented in the cabinet panel, we will then consider next steps for releasing the information.”

1,813 people have signed a Change.org petition against the disposal proposal at the time of writing and art lovers across the county are looking into whether the pieces could be preserved.

Lake by Gabriel Couderc is also under threat as part of the consultation. Picture: Herts County Council.Lake by Gabriel Couderc is also under threat as part of the consultation. Picture: Herts County Council.

The deputy chief executive for commercial and development at St Albans council, Richard Shwe, said: “We are aware Hertfordshire County Council has been consulting the public about the future of its art collection.

“We do not have any funds to purchase and manage this collection, in part or as a whole. However, the team at St Albans Museums is interested in the possibility of showcasing some of the artworks at the new St Albans Museum and Gallery in the future, subject to funding being made available from external sources to cover the cost of this.”

Selling the collection off could raise as much as £300k, HCC has estimated.

A report for the authority by art consultancy company Matassa Toffolo recommended transferring ownership to another body in the county and increasing public awareness of the collection.

• The report found there is no comprehensive inventory of the works, but a series of separate and partial spreadsheet lists, and archives only go back to 1969, whereas the collection was started in 1949. It is also not entirely clear who owns which items in the collection.

• The council’s collection is made up of two sections: the corporate collection and the schools loan collection, which was started to educate the county’s schoolchildren in contemporary art. The majority of works in the corporate collection are on display in schools and libraries, as well as at county hall.

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