Thanks to the Art Fund’s amazing work raising funds from individual donations, trusts and grants, and a huge £1,285,000 (almost $2 million) final donation from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Staffordshire Hoard is staying put in the region where it was found.
Unusually for the fund, when the trustees met today there was no argument about the extraordinary quality of the hoard, or the merits of making the grant. Dame Jenny Abramsky, chair of the NHMF, said: “The Staffordshire hoard is an extraordinary heritage treasure. It is exactly the sort of thing the National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up to save, stepping in as the ‘fund of last resort’ when our national heritage is at risk, as a fitting memorial to those who have given their lives in the service of our nation. We’re delighted, in our 30th anniversary year, to be able to make sure it stays just where it belongs, providing rare insights into one of the more mysterious periods of our history.”
“Frankly they’d have been demented not to give the money,” David Starkey, the historian who led the £3.3m appeal, said, welcoming the announcement.[...]
“This is by far the most important archaeological discovery in Britain since the second world war, and beyond that this is a find – of the most extraordinary beauty, brilliance and technical sophistication – which has really caught the imagination of the public.”
The culture minister, Margaret Hodge, said: “Thanks to this grant, these superb items will be able to stay – and be enjoyed – where they belong: in the Midlands where they were discovered.”
The NHMF donation brings the total funds raised to the £3.3 million target a full 3 weeks before the deadline. Now two local museums — the Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery — will receive the donated sum and they’ll both purchase the hoard from its discoverer Terry Herbert and Fred Johnson, the owner of the property where it was found.
The museums will share the hoard for display, conservation and research purposes, which is a great solution both for the public, so they have the opportunity to see the treasure in a couple of different places, but also for regional museums in general. A collaborative model allows local museums to support their own heritage instead of the British Museum getting it all.
Next hurdle: raising £1.7 million to properly conserve and study the hoard going forward. The Art Fund is keeping the donation lines open to help raise the conservation cash.