HC Deb 11 March 1886 vol 303 cc462-3

asked the honourable Member for North-West Stafford, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, Whether it is the fact, as stated by Mr. Newton, in a lecture lately delivered by him at the Royal Institution, that there are in the British Museum— A number of sculptures which have been buried in a cellar since the year 1852, which are defaced or begrimed with dirt, and utterly useless to anybody; whether these sculptures are of great value and archœological interest both on account of their intrinsic merit and of the inscriptions upon them; whether Her Majesty's Government contemplate proposing alterations or extensions at the Museum in order to allow of the proper exhibition of these ancient works of art; and, whether, in case no such alterations or extensions are to be proposed, consideration will be given to the question whether any of these objects could be sent for exhibition to provincial museums?


(who replied) said: The Newton Collection of sculptures are placed in a large basement room, imperfectly lighted; but they are kept in good condition, and are periodically washed by experienced masons. They were originally arranged for exhibition; but the room was found unsuitable for the admission of general visitors, and the light on one side has lately been intercepted by new buildings. They are examined by students, accompanied by a Museum attendant. A great part of these sculptures are known from engravings in the work entitled Museum Marvels, published by the Trustees, and they have been copied for publication by German Institutions. They form an essential part of the Museum Collection, and ought not to be separated from it. Proposed additions to the Museum buildings to provide for the proper exhibition of the antiquities in the basement have for same time been under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government.


asked was not the room in which the sculptures were so dark as to render artificial light necessary?


Basement rooms are generally imperfectly lighted.