National Treasures worth over £1 million saved from export in 2020-2021
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National Treasures worth over £1 million saved from export in 2020-2021
In 2020-21, 10 cases were considered by the Committee because the appropriate expert adviser had objected to the proposed export on the grounds of national importance as outlined in the Waverley Criteria. Nine cases were referred to the Secretary of State.

LONDON.- Today, the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (“The Committee”) publishes its sixty-sixth annual report, covering 2020-21.

Following the Committee’s recommendation, the Secretary of State arranged for a diverse and varied range of the nation’s treasures to receive temporary export deferrals. Despite a challenging period for fundraising due to the Covid-19 pandemic, items including a mosaic, a sculpture and a set of drawings symbolic of the UK’s history and national identity were successfully purchased by UK museums.

The cultural items will now remain in the UK, enabling the public, as well as experts, to benefit from viewing and learning about these objects, and realise the potential to further the nation’s research and understanding of the world.

Examples detailed in this report include:

• A Romano-British mosaic pavement fragment of exceptional quality and scale, removed from the Roman villa at Dewlish in Dorset, and attributed to the Durnovarian School, now purchased by Dorset County Museum. This purchase means it now joins two other sections from the same mosaic which are also housed by the museum.

• A set of ten ink and watercolour drawings depicting the progress and defeat of the Spanish Armada, thought to date from circa 1589, is a further noteworthy acquisition. The rare and important drawings were subsequently purchased by the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.

Sir Hayden Phillips, Chairman of the Committee, said: “The Committee has had a year of largely virtual meetings but it was nonetheless rewarding. Three outstanding objects were saved for the nation. I give thanks to my colleagues – both members of the Committee and of its Secretariat – and to all those, in addition, who contributed to our work. The Committee is very grateful to all the funding bodies, and to all the individuals, whose generosity has enabled these acquisitions, in particular, the owner who allowed a UK museum to complete an acquisition outside the deferral period.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “This report highlights the range of cultural objects of national importance that are at risk of leaving the UK and being lost to the nation. It also reveals the diligence with which the Committee scrutinizes each application.

“My huge thanks go to Sir Hayden Phillips, and the Reviewing Committee, for their continuing work in identifying treasures that they believe form part of our heritage and should remain in this country.”

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: "The export bar process exists so we can save important pieces of art and heritage for the nation. I am grateful to Sir Hayden and the Reviewing Committee for their work, and am very glad that these exceptional items have been acquired by public collections over the past year by museums across the country as a result, where they will be protected for everyone to enjoy and learn from."

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