Councillor says Northampton museum overhaul is justified following Sekhemka statue sale

Volunteers packing shoes into boxes at the museum and art gallery
Volunteers packing shoes into boxes at the museum and art gallery
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More than 40 volunteers are lending a helping hand at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery to make way for a new expansion.

And Councillor Anna King said the cash from the contentious sale of the Sekhemka statue is being ‘well spent’.

Councillor says Northampton museum refurb is justified following Sekhemka statue sale

Councillor says Northampton museum refurb is justified following Sekhemka statue sale

The expansion work will see the former jail block, which was previously owned by Northamptonshire County Council, renovated by the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

The £14 million works will create a new exhibition space, galleries, teaching facilities and an open glass cafe and is set to double in size before opening in September 2018.

Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Safety, councillor Anna King, said: “We are looking to have it all completed by heritage weekend, which is September 2018 so I would really like it to stay on track and launch for that date.”

Plans have also been submitted to introduce a Cellars Gallery, which enables people to exhibit their work and sell their artistry.

Volunteers, Adam Prescott with Dylan Fox

Volunteers, Adam Prescott with Dylan Fox

She added: “Our exhibition space will double in size which means we can have much larger exhibitions coming to the town that we may have missed out on before and we can now hold them.

“If you think on the scales of exhibitions that they have in London, they have the large dinosaurs exhibitions and stuff like that, that’s something we can consider for the future now."

Over 90,000 tourists paid a visit to the exhibitions last year and the expansion works are set to increase tourism internationally.

The extension and redevelopment of Northampton Museum will be partly funded by the sale of the Egyptian statue of Sekhemka, a limestone figure dating from around 2400 BC, from the museum collection.

Two volunteers

Two volunteers

The statue was sold by Northampton Borough Council in 2014.

It was a 4,500-year-old artefact, which used to be on display at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery and reached £15.76 million at auction in July 2014 when it was bought by a Qatari buyer.

On asking Councillor Anna King whether the sale of Sekhemka was worth it, she said: “Yes obviously we said from the sale that we would always put the money back into the museum services.

“We wouldn't have been able to do the expansion without the money. Lots of other museums are shutting and we are expanding, so the money is being well spent.”

Shoes being packed up ready to be put into storage

Shoes being packed up ready to be put into storage