Author Topic: Why is the Wedgwood Museum collection at risk?  (Read 2584 times)

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Offline Anne

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Why is the Wedgwood Museum collection at risk?
« on: December 18, 2010, 04:09:27 PM »
Can anyone explain to me why the Wedgwood Museum collection should be held liable for the Waterford Wedgwood Pension Fund deficit? This makes absolutely no sense to me at all and is a worrying development which raises all sorts of questions for other museum collections:
http://www.spectator.co.uk/arts-and-culture/featured/6542623/wedgwood-museum-at-risk-.thtml


Offline nigel benson

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Re: Why is the Wedgwood Museum collection at risk?
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2010, 11:36:03 PM »
Hello,

The situation at the Wedgwood Museum has not materially changed for some 6 months. Common sense might suggest that it is wrong, however laws that were brought in to protect pension funds after the Maxwell fiasco have left a lophole which may result in the wholesale plunder of a unique museum. This is NOT what the law was set up to do and it is this that is the subject of the judgement in the spring of 2011.

Apart from giving our support, there is little that can be done, since it is unlikely that those who wish to liquidate the museum, as an asset of the former Waterford Wedgwood company, will change their mind; possibly they could be sued by 'a n other' for not performing their Duty of Care if they do not explore every possibe source of money/asset for re-funding the pension fund. Of course morally it stinks, but sadly the tortuous logic is inescapable.

General support and publicity can, IMHO, only help to give awareness to others about the situation. The ramifications toward other museum funding problems and answers being formulated are obvious - particularly, as the article suggests, where Trusts are involved.

Let us hope that the judgement is enlightened, giving what might be considered a common sense approach to the problem, rather than perhaps upholding what turns out to be a law being used/abused - however legal!!

Nigel


Offline Anne

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Re: Why is the Wedgwood Museum collection at risk?
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2010, 04:21:55 AM »
Nigel, thank you. So the court review will determine the legality of the law as it stands? Whilst the judicial process is going on, will the collection be protected from being plundered? I'm wondering if the judgement decides the collection is fair game, is there an appeal process? Is the Museum not a charitable trust? How does that sit with all of this? I really can't come to grips with this at all.


Offline Bernard C

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Re: Why is the Wedgwood Museum collection at risk?
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2010, 12:17:28 PM »
For those not aware of the immediately direct relevance of this to those interested in English glass, I'm reasonably certain that the Wedgwood Museum collection includes:
  • The Stuart pattern books,
  • The pattern books of Philip Pargeter, acquired by Frederick Stuart in 1881 when he took over the lease of the Red House Glassworks,
  • The extremely important small collection of unmarked but well provenanced Stuart/Stonier White Star and other shipping line glasses formerly on display in the Red House shop,
  • The magnificent Walsh Opaline Brocade epergne formerly on display in the Red House shop,
  • Other Stuart glass, some unmarked, including some enamelled pieces, formerly on display in the Red House shop.

The collection may well include further Pargeter/Stuart/Stonier glass and archives.

Bernard C.  8)

Note that I used Gulliver as a reference while I was drafting this reply.
Text and Images Copyright © 2004–14 Bernard Cavalot


Offline Anne

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Re: Why is the Wedgwood Museum collection at risk?
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2010, 02:39:29 PM »
Thanks Bernard, that's also worrying to know. As we're in Cafe I'd not really considered the glass connection here - it was more to do with the general principle of museum collections being at risk in such a situation and whether or not other (glass) collections could be held similarly liable in like circumstances.

The whole concept of a collection being held "in trust" implies, at least to me, that it should be protected from any such plunderability, and it seems that if the judgement is that the museum is liable for the fund's deficit, then it opens a whole can of worms for others to similarly try and realise assets in collections to pay off pension debts.

I wonder if this collection has been (or needs to be) vested in the Official Custodian, (section 18 of the Charities Act 1993) for its interim protection?

Nigel, I notice your careful choice of words re "General support and publicity can, IMHO, only help to give awareness to others about the situation." Are you of the opinion that wider publicity might worsen the situation by giving others similar ideas? This was my worry, hence the topic being in Cafe where it is visible to members only.


Offline nigel benson

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Re: Why is the Wedgwood Museum collection at risk?
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2010, 12:28:07 AM »
Hello again,

To add to Bernard's list. Certainly the pieces from the Harrods exhibition designed by various artists are in the WW Museum.

Whether or not the pattern books for Stuart are also there, or in the Waterford buildings in Ireland is something that is problematic for glass enthusiasts as well - although these might also be considered a company asset as they are designs that could still be produced (and in some cases have been in recent years - The Luxton Collection).

I may not get this totally correct, but it will convey the general idea of what is behind the claim against the collections as an asset. It evolves around the fact that some of the people working for the Trust are former employees of Waterford Wedgwood. As such they become the people liable for the pension funds shortfall as there is deemed to be a connection between the two situations - which, in turn, makes the collections and archives an asset. The link is clear, however illogical you and I might consider it to be. The law was changed to avoid the situation that was left after the Robert Maxwell fiasco whereby the pension fund of the employees was raided for funding purchases of other companies, etc. This was a 'catch all' to encompass and protect pension funds. Unfortunately, it has done just that, and as such it is not what the law was set up to achieve. I believe this is what the judgement will determine.

Further, even if it is possible that an appeal could be launched should the judgement go the wrong way, it is the employees who are the Trustees of the musem who would have to instigate, and pay for it :o >:(

I hope that all reads correctly (I nearly wrote "makes sense" - how ironic would that be?)

Edit: I just noticed that I haven't answered your question about awareness Anne. I don't think I was suggesting that others could go down this route, since it is so specific to a particular situation. But, now that you've pointed it out I can understand your concern.

Nigel

PS. I drew this whole situation to the attention of the members of the BGF sometime ago in a round-robin email. N.


Offline Anne

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Re: Why is the Wedgwood Museum collection at risk?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2011, 12:38:53 AM »
News story about Wedgwood Museum being recognised as culturally important by UNESCO:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-13522460


Offline chopin-liszt

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Re: Why is the Wedgwood Museum collection at risk?
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2011, 11:22:54 AM »
While I agree wholeheartedly about the importance of the collection - and the sneakiness and immorality of the legal situation, pensions are about people surviving - and people are more important than "stuff".

This would be an appropriate time for one of our wonderful and generous uber-wealthy philanthropists (HA!)to step in and save the day.  :grrr: >:D :grrr:
Cheers, Sue (M)

“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” Friedrich Nietzsche


Offline David E

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Re: Why is the Wedgwood Museum collection at risk?
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2011, 12:56:29 PM »
For those not aware of the immediately direct relevance of this to those interested in English glass, I'm reasonably certain that the Wedgwood Museum collection includes:
  • The Stuart pattern books,
  • The pattern books of Philip Pargeter, acquired by Frederick Stuart in 1881 when he took over the lease of the Red House Glassworks,
  • Other Stuart glass, some unmarked, including some enamelled pieces, formerly on display in the Red House shop.

I can confirm the above, having visited the museum on two occasions, and another scheduled for the future. However, the Stuart archive is rather small and I suspect there's a lot of material that's not "accounted for". Having seen the Stuart glass collection at Himley Hall, just before it was bundled off to Ww, it is very extensive and deserves a museum of its own.

But if you haven't been to the Ww museum before, it's well worth a visit - whether you are a dedicated glassie or not! It certainly is a template for how Broadfield House could look like in the future...
David
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Offline Frank

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Re: Why is the Wedgwood Museum collection at risk?
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2011, 01:41:22 PM »
Any updates?
Frank A.
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