The Governing Council intends to ease its budget for 2017 with the closure of the Skulpturhalle Basel and the removal to a storage depot of its 2’200 casts of Greek and Roman art. By means of downsizing personnel and annulling operating and maintenance costs, 200’000 Swiss Francs are expected to be saved. The Council foresees making the casts accessible again in 2023 in conjunction with a planned, but yet uncertain move, of the Antikenmuseum, to a new location in the Augustinergasse (which presently houses the natural history museum).
The closure of the Skulpturhalle would consciously surrender to oblivion not only a prime part of the oldest museum of the city, but also the third largest collection of casts worldwide. Storage of the fragile casts would expose historical and unique holdings to irresponsible risks: serious damage and even loss of entire works must be reckoned with. As a result of the closure, not only archaeological research and university teaching, but also schools and the general audience interested in ancient civilizations would loose a place of education as well as a lively and innovative institution. The cultural landscape of Basel would deliberately be damaged and, therefore, poorer. Moreover, in view of the financial cost of packaging and storage, the aim at any cost saving would fail to materialize.
We, the undersigned, urgently request the Governing Council to abstain from the closure of the Skulpturhalle as part of the planned budget cuts of the Antikenmuseum Basel.
The Skulpturhalle is a crucial part of the museum history of Basel and, at the same time, an institution of international repute: the architectural sculpture of the famous Parthenon Temple on Athens’ Acropolis, which exists in its entirety only in Basel in the form of casts, is just one example. The Skulpturhalle needs to be preserved for future generations as part of our responsibility for shared values. The costs for the planned storage of the casts would by far exceed the budgetted savings of 200’000 Swiss Francs.
In the name of all signers.
Basel, Switzerland, 23 Feb 2015 (aktiv bis 22 Apr 2015)