Show us the Monet!

Final post for tonight. Was listening to Jeremy Vine earlier today, on Radio 2, and there was a piece about how Southampton City Council has finally been forced to reveal it has a £180m art collection, including Turners and Picassos, much of which is languishing in its basement.

A bit of a triumph for the local newspaper editor who was on the show today and said that when the paper first started asking questions the Council officers were ‘very defensive’ and more of less implied it was none of their business. What’s particularly bizarre about this story isn’t just that the Council has an archive of valuable artworks from the days in which perhaps a local authority might dabble in such things, but that it recently spent £250,000 on a Bridget Riley painting. Now I’m something of a fan of Bridget Riley’s op-art, but I don’t think I’d be happy for Bristol City Council to be ‘investing’ in such pieces.

Public reaction has covered all bases, from people indignant that money which could be spent on public services being tied up in this way, to others who accuse the newspaper editor of being a complete Philistine. So – if you discovered Bristol City Council had 3,700 pieces of artwork worth a cool £180million tucked away somewhere in the depths of the Council House, what do you think they should do? Sell it? Show it? Share it?

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