Croydon’s plan to sell £13m-worth of Riesco Collection to fund Fairfield Halls renovation

Croydon's Fairfield Halls need a facelift Photo: Flickr

Renewal: Fairfield Halls will undergo a transformation if the sale goes ahead. Photo: Flickr

Croydon Council’s proposed plan to sell £13m-worth of Chinese ceramics from the Riesco Collection has been described as “unethical” by the Museums Association.

Labour Councillor Stuart Collins describes the council’s plans as “madness” adding : “We are talking about 24 mini-masterpieces. These are obviously the best pieces in the collection because they are the most highly valued”.

Tim Pollard, Cabinet member for Children, Families and Learning, defended the sale saying: “Clearly this has been a difficult decision to make, and one that we have not taken lightly. [But] the costs of maintaining this collection do not provide value for money to Croydon’s taxpayers, whereas the possibility of investing in the future of the Fairfield Halls will breathe new life into culture in Croydon for residents to experience and enjoy in the 21st century”.

David Anderson, president of the Museums Association and director general of National Museums Wales suggests the council’s plan to sell the ceramics will be detrimental to the public perception of museums.  Anderson said: “Croydon’s decision to sell valuable Chinese ceramics threatens not just its own reputation, but also that of the museum sector as a whole. It would undermine the widespread public trust in museums and I strongly urge them to reconsider”.

A report from Croydon Natural History and Scientific society, which debates the expected sale suggests the planned renewal of the centre will not necessarily affect its current status, the report reads: ‘Refurbishment of the Fairfield Hall is not a cultural end in itself’.

The 24 pieces from the original collection of 230 objects which were sold to Croydon by Raymond Riesco in 1959, have been removed from the Riesco Gallery in Croydon Clocktower.

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