Council’s £6m stash of art and antiques

Cllr David Nettleton
Cllr David Nettleton
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A COUNCIL has revealed that is has nearly £6 million of art and antiques – but more than three-quarters of it is hidden away or in storage.

The number of items on public show has been halved since the closure of the Manor House Museum in 2006, Dr Keith Cunliffe, collections manager at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, has said.

Now, independent borough councillor David Nettleton has called for more of the art to be put on display – or failing that sold.

“We should be displaying them in public not hiding them away.

“Alternatively, if there are no covenants on them, sell them.

“What is the point of keeping them in storage,” he said.

They could be displayed in The Apex and other council buildings or loaned out, he suggested.

The list of more than 220 items was revealed after Cllr Netteton made a Freedom of Information request.

Many of the collections have been bequeathed to the council over the years and cannot be sold.

They include the Gershom Parkington clocks, previously displayed at the Manor House Museum, some of which are valued as much as £120,000.

The most valuable item is a portrait of Mrs Sydney Milner-Gibson, of the Cullum family, painted by James Tissot, and now valued at around £1.8 million.

The painting, which cannot be sold, will soon go on show at Moyse’s Hall Museum.

Dr Cunliffe said that about 25 per cent of the clocks and 10 per cent of the art are on display at any one time.

“I agree the more we can get on display the better,” he said.

But he said there were issues with security and making sure paintings were not damaged by light.

“The last thing we want is someone 100 years from now saying we used to have this lovely painting but they didn’t take proper care of it.

“It is a difficult balancing act,” Dr Cunliffe said.