Mr. Robert G. Hughes
To ask the Minister for the Arts what estimate he has of the proportion of artefacts held in museums and galleries currently on public display.
§ Mr. Luce
The proportion of artefacts in museums and galleries on public display varies from institution to 31W institution and with the nature of the collection. The National gallery and the Wallace collection, for example, have all of their collection on display. For museums with large reference collections, such as the British museum, the National History museum and the Victoria and Albert museum, only a proportion can be displayed at any one time.
The Government are keen to improve public access to the treasures in our museums and galleries by wider use of the reserve collections and by loans to other institutions.
All national museums and galleries arrange access by members of the public to items not on display and all aim to rotate items between the reserve collection and public display. A good deal of material is loaned out already under the terms of the Government indemnity scheme. I would like to see more and have asked the Museums and Galleries Commission to encourage this through its recently formed touring exhibition unit.