Teachers' blog


【The Controversial Egyptian Statue】



(Contributed by Ana)

The Controversial Egyptian Statue


I recently read about a difficult situation about a statue, called Sekhemka, originally from Egypt.   Sekhemka is a 4,000-year-old limestone statue of an official.  The official is sitting down, reading a scroll, with his smaller wife kneeling by his side.  The statue is about 75cm tall.


One of the councils in the UK decided to sell this statue in an auction.  It was sold for a staggering 15.76 million pounds (2,731.50 million yen) to an unknown buyer in July 2014.  This sale wasn’t without controversy however.


This council stated that the statue was taken off display after it was valued in 2010.  This is because they had concerns that it would require 24 hour guarding.  The council also claims that they wanted to raise money for other heritage projects in the region, such as restoring an Abbey founded in 1145, and improving the local museum service.  Hence, the council decided to sell it.


Yet many people were against this sale.  The local marqui gave the statue to the town in 1890.  This family disputed this sale saying that it breaches the terms of the gift.  In the end, an agreement was reached where the family would receive just under half of the money raised from the sale.


The council also held a public consultation.  The results of this saw 51% in favour versus 49% against the sale.  Yet, this process has also been heavily criticised for not implicitly asking if people approved of the sale or not.


There are a number of other people who are also unhappy with this sale.  Those protesting against include the Egyptian government.   One Egyptian minister said that museums should be about culture rather than trying to earn money.


 The Museum Association for the United Kingdom also advised the council that it would review its membership if it sold this statue.  This could then affect the council’s ability to obtain grant funding in the future. 


It’s a controversial topic.  Should this statue have been sold, or should it have remained in the museum?

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