Relocating “assets” to promote regional tourism

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

should work of historic importance about Beatrix Potter be in London or the Lake District?

Last week, Grahame Morris – MP for Easington in Durham – asked the Department for Culture etc to bring forward legislation to “relocate regional assets held in national galleries and libraries to their areas of origin to promote regional tourism.”

On the face of it this might seem to be a laudable aim. Think longer about it and you realise suggest a suggestion is fraught with problems. It also has international not just British implications. If you return things to their regions why not return it to the nations in which they were created?

Should all the early additions of Shakespeare be returned to Stratford?  Should first editions, drawings and memories of Beatrix Potter be located in the Lake District which she obviously loved or her parents’ home in London where she first conceived the drawings of her animal tales?

Easington in Durham is, or was, a mining constituency. Inextricably linked with coalfields in neighbouring counties, my great great great uncle owned collieries in the area. He also owned some in South Wales and had business interests inYorkshire and some that stretched across the seas. Should the items held by the family be placed in museums in the North East, South Wales, Yorkshire or London (where he had a house) or even South America which is where some items are?

If you follow Morris’s thoughts, then the collection should be split and each go to the area with which they are connected. But wouldn’t that imply that all those items relating to Greece in the British Museum go back to Athens, those from Roman times back to Rome and Viking artifacts back to Scandinavia? Should the French impressionist paintings in the National Museum of Wales go to Paris? Should J.M.W. Turner’s paintings of Venice only be exhibited in Venice? Obviously you can take Morris’s idea to extremes quite easily.

The government responded to Morris by saying that they had no plans for any such legislation but it did support “the sharing of the national collections across the United Kingdom, to enable as many people as possible to see them.” That is probably the best solution. Provided, of course, that  items do go on tours to different parts of our countries for all to see instead of being locked in an underground vault somewhere.

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