Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180 - 185)



  180. May I finally ask you then what percentage of the collection has not been on display during, say, the last ten years ever?
  (Dr Borg) It is difficult to produce a figure for that in the last ten years. We have in South Kensington something like six per cent of the collection on show, but that figure rises to around 24 per cent if you exclude the prints and drawings collection with over a million objects which cannot be shown for conservation reasons but all of which is available. There are some objects which have not been seen in the public galleries for many years but I do not have the proportion of those.

  181. What sort of disposal policy do you have for objects which are, in effect, never put on show?
  (Dr Borg) We have a disposals committee. We are, of course, unable to sell objects because we are prevented from doing so by statute, but we can dispose of objects if they are duplicate, if they are surplus to the requirements of the collection, or if they are in a state in which they can no longer be preserved. There are some objects, for example some 18th century silks, which would self-destruct because of the dyes used in them. Very few objects are disposed of. Anything for disposal would be offered to another museum to see if a home could be produced for it.

  Mr Rendel: Thank you Chairman.


  182. Can I just for clarification, Dr Borg ask you to explain to the Committee this statute that limits the sale of objects.
  (Dr Borg) That is the National Heritage Act which governs the Victoria and Albert Museum and prevents us from selling objects. All the national museums are covered by legislation of one sort or another. I think in all cases we are prevented from selling objects.

  183. You can transfer between you?
  (Dr Borg) We can transfer between but we cannot sell.

  184. If someone can exploit the two-thirds of your assets better than you could transfer to them?
  (Dr Borg) Yes.

  185. The last question really relates to Mr Davidson's questions to you. I would like you to go away and see what data you have—since you raised the issue of ethnic and social balance—on the social class origins of visitors, regional origins as well as ethnic origins, and while you are at it, have a look and see what data you do have on schools and the balance between private and state schools. If you could do that as well that would be helpful.
  (Dr Borg) Yes[11].

  Chairman: Beyond that it just remains for me to thank you both for coming.

11   Note: See Evidence, Appendix 1, page 17 (PAC 00-01/127). Back

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