Miscellany | Published:

Notes

    Abstract

    WE are very glad that the Government has been induced to abandon the intention to use the British Museum at Bloomsbury for the purposes of the Air I Board and the Natural History Museum at South I Kensington for other Government departments. Lord Sudeley directed attention to the proposed appropriation of these buildings in a question asked in the House of Lords on January 9, and, in reply, Earl Curzon! said that, as regards the British Museum, he was glad to state that for the accommodation of the Air Ministry it was no longer necessary to appropriate that building. As to the Natural History Museum, it had been found, after detailed examination, that any attempt to convert the galleries into public offices would involve the closing of the building to the public, extensive internal rearrangements, and the consumption of an enormous amount of labour and material and very considerable delay. In these circumstances it had been decided that there was no necessity sufficiently urgent to warrant the use of the museum as had been contemplated.—This decision has given much satisfaction to all who cherish regard for national prestige and understand the intellectual stimulus or practical value of the collections in our national museums. What astonishes us, however, is that Sir Alfred Mond, the First Commissioner of Works, and a son of the late Dr. Ludwig Mond, should have placed himself in such an indefensible position by putting the scheme before the Government. It is difficult to comprehend also why, before deciding to requisition the building, the Government did not inquire as to whether such action was imperatively needed, and consult the trustees and other responsible authorities as to what its consequences would be. If that had been done, a storm of protest would have been saved, and Earl Curzon would not have had to confess in the House of Lords that there was no real necessity for the proposed occupation, which would, indeed, have been more like the act of an invader than of a Government entrusted with the care of national interests in every direction. The trustees of the museum, at their meeting on January 12, expressed their gratitude, on behalf of the nation whose treasures they hold in trust, to the newspapers which so unanimously gave voice to the public disapproval of a proposal which threatened the safety of the museum and its collections.

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