Art could be sold to bridge gap
ART from a collection worth millions could go under the hammer to bridge a £100,000 council funding gap.
Gloucester City Council is set to sell off works of art or relics with no local links, to improve the visitor experience at both its museums.
It has paintings worth millions, many of them unseen, as well as collections of historic artifacts, all with no specific links to the city or the county.
Those are under consideration for sale in order to help pay for a new a new education suite and cafe at the Folk Museum in Westgate Street, and a new reception area, shop and cafe at Gloucester City Museum and Art Gallery in Brunswick Road.
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Both are being refurbished, and while the folk museum remains open, the museum and art gallery is closed until Easter 2011.
Heritage Lottery Funding of £750,000 has to be match funded by the city council with £250,000 but a further £100,000 is required to complete the works not covered by the HLF money.
The council raised £250,000 in 2004 when it sold the Transport Museum in Bearland.
A council spokeswoman said: "The disposal process is to enable the museum service to dispose of a small number of artifacts which have no relevance to the Gloucester story, to produce investment funds for the running of, and improvements to, the museums' service and buildings."
The museum has three Turner paintings, all on loan, so they won't be for sale. They are on display at the city museum.
The three, Lucerne and the Rigi, Knaresborough and Jerusalem, alone are believed to be worth millions.
Robin Morris, chairman of Gloucester Civic Trust, agreed with the motive to sell, as long as the pieces had no link to the city or county.
"We don't really know yet what they have in mind to sell," he said.
"From my point of view I cannot see any objection to selling certain things if they don't have a link to here, and that will provide better museum facilities.
"Items that don't have a link here may be able to make a more meaningful contribution elsewhere."
Town halls across the country are starting to look at increasingly desperate measures to save cash.
Examples of councils looking to sell off artwork in order to balance the books are very rare.
But due to harsh cuts in Government funding over the next four years, such measures are expected to be more common.
Councils are having to make savings of up to 30 per cent in order to keep public finances under control.
The county council is preparing to shed around 1,000 jobs by 2014 and make cuts across all departments in response to Government grant reductions.