Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 16:49 UK

Artwork sell-off plan criticised


The plans have been criticised as "short sighted"

A council wants to sell important works of art to raise about £5m to help pay for a new cultural quarter.

Southampton City council believes the cash could be raised by selling pieces by French sculptor Auguste Rodin and British painter Sir Alfred Munnings.

The money will go towards a £15m centre that will also house a Titanic museum. The liner set sail from the city on its ill-fated maiden voyage in 1912.

But critics said the plan to "sell off the silver" was "short-sighted".

Former Southampton mayor and Liberal Democrat councillor John Slade said: "I am absolutely against it.

"The collection the city has built up over the years is very valuable.

"Selling off at a time of a recession you are selling at a knockdown price.

'Stringent guidelines'

"There is no good selling off the silver because once it has gone it has gone."

Councillor John Hannides said the new centre would allow more of the council's nationally important 3,500-piece collection of British 20th and 21st Century art to be displayed.

The Southampton art collection, valued at £180m, is considered the third most significant outside of London, behind Birmingham and Manchester.

It boasts works by Turner, Lowry, Monet and Angel of the North creator Antony Gormley.

"No final decision on whether to dispose of any works will be taken until late 2009," Mr Hannides explained.

"Any decision will be subject to legal requirements and processes and stringent professional and ethical guidelines."

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