Expert Comment: The fight to save the Wedgwood MuseumWednesday 25 April 2012
Alan Whittaker, Head of the Department of Fine and Applied Art at Liverpool Hope University
Waterford Wedgwood collapsed in 2009 and the company’s pension fund has a £134 million deficit. The High Court ruled that the Wedgwood Museum, which has a lot of expensive collections, must be sold to pay the pensions bill.
The problem is that the museum holds a great number of important and iconic pieces. This collection needs to be saved – whoever buys it needs to keep it integral and not split it up.
Josiah Wedgewood set up the company in 1730 and the collection holds all the ceramics he used to work with. The museum doesn’t just contain ceramics – it also holds thousands of documents and important paintings by Stubbs and Joshua Reynolds.
I used to work as a designer for Rosenthal and they were taken over by Wedgwood so the Rosenthal collection is at stake as well.
Although the government are backing this decision, local MPs such as Tristram Hunt are campaigning against it. They have had some success at keeping ceramic trade in Stoke on Trent when many manufacturers have moved their operations to the Far East.
Once dispersed, this collection could never be put together again – it is both irreplaceable and priceless.