Letter: Protect works of art from moving

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The Independent Online
Sir: May a voice from the viewing public answer David Lister's article, "When treasure becomes a burden" (16 April).

With today's ease of travel, why may people not see art where it belongs, as at the Wallace Collection? Paying for entrance to galleries (as happens more and more) the visitor is not told when half the gallery is closed, or rooms are closed for redecoration, for rehanging or for preparing a temporary extraneous exhibition. There is no indication of what can or cannot be seen. With constant movement nothing is predictable, which may be a director's dream but is a visitor's nightmare.

Do these spectacular exhibitions really bring in the desired money, despite insurance and other expenses? The visitor has to book the day and hour of visit in advance, only to find himself in a milling crowd, trying to get a glimpse of exhibits. For this he has had to travel to London or Paris, Madrid or Amsterdam.

This modern picture circus moves from one grand venue to another while behind the scenes a director says: "If you do not lend me X, I will not lend Y", leading to the qualms over keeping or breaking the conditions of a bequest.

Sir William Burrell, singled out as a short-sighted donor, was a businessman and a realist. Accidents should not happen, but on occasions they can, and do, wherever works of art are handled. To deny it is either crass lack of awareness or economy with the truth.

If the envisaged end is art on the Internet, why worry? You needn't go to the theatre, because you can see it on TV. You needn't go to a museum because you can have it on computer screen. Who cares? Then real art can be left in place, in peace, for real appreciation.


Biggar, Lanarkshire