Dutch museums may sell treasures to make ends meet

Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:34am EDT
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By Archana Ramanujam

ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands (Reuters) - Rotterdam's Wereldmuseum plans to sell its African and American treasures to cover funding shortfalls made more likely by the economic crisis in Europe and a planned cut in state subsidies to the arts starting in 2013.

It is one of several Dutch museums under pressure to raise money from the public purse, and ideas being explored have ranged from "adopting" star exhibits to opening a hotel on the premises.

"We are going to sell the entire Africa collection and the Americas collection, and will only keep the top pieces in the rest of our collection so we can focus on Asian art," said Stanley Bremer, director at Wereldmuseum.

"The money we raise we will put in the bank," he told Reuters.

"If you are alert to the situation in Europe, you can see there could be a problem in five or six years' time. So either we can sit back or we can make a plan and our plan is to raise money to be as self-sufficient as possible."

The government has said state subsidies for the arts and culture would be cut by 200 million euros to 700 million with effect from 2013, and that in future, museums must find 17.5 percent of their income from new funding sources or partners.


The possible sale -- if no other museum in the Netherlands can afford to purchase the works then other buyers may step in -- has prompted an outcry in some quarters.   Continued...