Sekhemka is to remain in the UK

Marwan Sultan in London , Monday 30 Mar 2015

Sekhemka statue banned from leaving UK after a culture minister intervened saying that the statue was a gift to the council in 1880


The famous Egyptian statue Sekhemka will not leave the United Kingdom, the UK Culture Ministry announced.

A 4,000-year-old statue was sold by Northampton Borough Council (NBC) last year despite an outcry from within the UK as well as other places, including Egypt.   

NBC sold the Sekhemka statue for £15.76m to an overseas buyer -- widely believed to be from Middle East -- in July to “help fund an extension to the town's museum and art gallery.”

Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and creative industries decided to “place a temporary export ban” on the statue. He said the statue was "gifted" to the council in 1880.

The statue will not be allowed to leave the country, Vaizey said.

Arts Council England ruled earlier the sale breached the accredited standards for how museums manage their collections. Arts Council England banned Northampton Council from the Museums Association and accordingly has had a Heritage Lottery Fund bid rejected.

Vaizey’s decision is understood to be based on a recommendation by the reviewing committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), which is administered by Arts Council England.

The RCEWA said the statue was of "outstanding aesthetic importance" and was significant in the study of "the development of private statuary and funerary religion in Egypt and the history of human self-representation."

Save the Sekhemka Action Group praised the ban on exporting the statue. It said in a statement “Our group are obviously delighted that Sekhemka will not be leaving the UK.”

However, the group, which has been campaigning for the statue for many years, remains “deeply disappointed that the situation has been allowed to escalate.”

The statement described the NBC actions as “reckless” and “threatening” the future of Northampton museum.

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