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Museum given collection of 20th century art objects

Published: Friday, 11 June 2021

Objects being moved into storage

Northampton Museums and Art Gallery has obtained 33 objects from the Derbyshire County Council Schools Library Service.

The objects will be displayed as part of the museums’ rolling exhibitions programme, lectures and learning sessions over the next few years. 
The collection consists of oil paintings, prints and textile art, along with several pairs of shoes and ethnographic art, including Japanese Satsuma ware, a woodcut self-portrait print by the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer and a rare, unsigned lithograph print by L. S. Lowry, entitled ‘A street full of people.’
The pieces came from a wider collection bought by Derbyshire County Council between 1938 and 1988 and used as teaching aids in the county’s schools.
Councillor Adam Brown, Deputy Leader of West Northamptonshire Council and Portfolio holder for culture, leisure and housing, said: “These pieces are welcome additions to the Northampton Museums and Art Gallery’s collection, and we are grateful to both Derbyshire County Council and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for donating them to us.
“We’re delighted that we can provide these objects with a new home in West Northants and ensure that people can enjoy them. We will be including them in future exhibitions, as well as displaying them during learning sessions and the museum service’s ever popular Art History lecture series.”
10 shoes from Afghanistan and Greece, including a Medieval design which kept the wearer raised from then dirty streets, were purposely chosen to broaden the scope of Northampton Museum and Art Gallery’s world-renowned footwear collection.
The 20 artworks are in a range of styles, with several garden landscapes, portraits, animal depictions and abstract works focused around the theme of colour. The collection also includes works by Northampton-born artists Constance Howard and Robert Wallace Ellis.
Councillor Barry Lewis, Derbyshire County Council Leader and Cabinet member for strategic leadership, culture, tourism and climate change, said: “The transfer of collections from the Schools Library Service to museums like Northampton’s is pioneering and continues to be an exciting project for us to be involved in.
“For a long time, museums have been nervous about the disposal of objects, so we welcome the confidence the Museums Association has placed in us to get this right – it’s an innovative project which continues to see items being re-homed in a transparent way, considering what is the best place for the object, while ensuring that it is not lost to the public, where possible.
“We are very pleased that Northampton Museums and Art Gallery is able to receive these objects, and to exhibit them in their galleries in future.”
The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund has funded the disposals project as an example of best practice. It is a large-scale disposals project, undertaken following the MA’s code of ethics, in a time of budget cuts for Local Authorities.
Northampton Museum and Art Gallery in Guildhall Road will reopen its doors to the public on Saturday, 10 July, following a major refurbishment and expansion project. For regular updates and news, check the museums’ website or follow their social media channels #StepInside.