Memorandum submitted by the Yorkshire
and Humberside Museums Council
1. THE YORKSHIRE
1.1 The Yorkshire and Humberside Museums
Council (YHMC) is the regional strategic, development and advisory
body for museums and galleries in the Yorkshire and Humberside
region. The Council, which was founded in 1963, is a membership
organisation which represents nearly 200 local authority, university,
regimental and independent charitable trust museums.
1.2 The main activities of the Council include
the provision of advice and information, in-service training,
the administration of Government grant aid for museum projects,
and representation of its members' views at regional and national
YHMC encourages museums to work together through
a variety of regional initiatives such as marketing schemes, collection
surveys and museum education projects.
The Council also provides a strategic overview
and independent advice to many external bodies such as the Heritage
Lottery Fund and the Regional Government Office.
1.3 The Council is a limited company and
registered charity. Its work is overseen by an annually elected
Board of Management, which is advised by a professional Joint
Advisory Panel. On a day-to-day basis the Museums Council is managed
by the Director, who is a museum professional. YHMC receives its
core funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
via the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries.
2.1 There needs to be a clear, agreed and
inclusive definition of the term "cultural property".
2.2 A central source of advice and expertise
is required to assist not only museums and galleries, but also
private collectors and the art trade. Information on cultural
property legislation and export regulations in other countries
should be a particular priority.
3. ILLICIT TRADE
3.1 It is often difficult, if not impossible,
to obtain details of provenance for items sold by auction houses.
The lack of a requirement for provenance information is a contributory
factor in the theft of cultural property both in the UK and in
3.2 Sales of cultural property in shops,
through catalogues and via Internet sites should be governed by
ethical retail policies. Tighter government regulation may also
3.3 In order to combat illicit trade and
theft within the UK eg of archaeological material, there needs
to be greater co-ordination between police forces.
4.1 Any proposals to tackle illicit trade
in the UK will have to relate to current European legislation.
Many museums and galleries would welcome better information on
the operation and interpretation of existing European legislation.
4.2 YHMC strongly recommends that the UK
should ratify the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention and the 1970 UNESCO
Convention in order to provide a clearer legislative framework
with which to combat the illicit trade in cultural property.