Dear Editor, It is important to clear up any misunderstandings and inaccuracies that have been created following the letter from Richard Worrall (Birmingham Post, February 18) around Walsall’s interest in the Staffordshire Hoard.
It is wrong to accuse Walsall Council and the New Art Gallery of having “no interest” in the hoard as both share the nation’s excitement and enthusiasm for this important find.
To suggest The New Art Gallery as a home is irresponsible and misleading to members of the public, however, as the gallery does not have the required archaeological knowledge, skills and equipment to acquire, preserve and interpret the hoard.
And Walsall Museum Service is not eligible to become an Acquiring Partner with Birmingham and Stoke museums, as, although the Leather Museum, Community History Museum and the New Art Gallery are accredited by the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), none have an archaeological collections policy.
It is not simply a matter of putting items on display – staff need to have the necessary archaeological expertise to interpret and conserve the treasure.
Alongside the campaign to acquire the collection for the West Midlands, a wider partnership is being formed in the area which seeks to use the hoard as the basis of a Mercian Archaeological Trail
Walsall’s Museums Service is working with this wider partnership of Staffordshire, Stoke, Birmingham, Lichfield and Tamworth local authorities. This involvement may deliver greater opportunities for temporary exhibitions of elements of the hoard and Walsall’s commitment is ongoing.
In my role as council leader I have personally attended many discussions on this subject with other leaders from the wider West Midlands region.
We want the hoard seen, appreciated and enjoyed by as many people in the region as possible but this has to be in a location that offers the environmental conditions, security and capacity to adequately house and display it.
Councillor Mike Bird
Walsall Council Leader