Hundreds of Aberdeen artefacts and artworks listed ‘missing’

Council officers have been asked to investigate after it was revealed that hundreds of artefacts and artworks are classed as “missing” in Aberdeen.

They include items kept in storage for the renovation of Aberdeen Art Gallery.

A £34.6m four-year redevelopment saw it re-open in 2019.

It has been confirmed that about 1,500 items have a “missing” status. The council has started the “significant task” of matching records to actual items held.

SNP group leader Alex Nicoll told BBC Scotland he had asked council officers to report on what had happened and “what lessons can be learned”.

In answer to a freedom of information request, Aberdeen City Council said the electronic record held by the local authority was created using historic paper records rather than actual items held.

This means it not only lists everything it has but also everything that it once had as well.

The council is optimistic that many of these “missing items” are likely to be somewhere in its premises and their precise locations will eventually be recorded.

“Although 1,500 items have a ‘missing’ status, we have assigned around 3,100 items with temporary numbers; many of which have become disassociated from their accession number, (for example) the label with the number has become separated from the object,” a spokesperson said.

“There is currently work ongoing to match the electronic records to actual items held.

“This is a significant task considering the number of items held and recorded.”

The council said a number of items were recorded as missing and requiring further investigation during the decant of the art gallery in 2015.

“As we were moving thousands of items between buildings we suspected an admin error occurred in the recording of blocks. We are now relocating stores and expect to investigate and identify current locations during this process.”

Mr Nicoll said Aberdeen City Council was responsible for an “enormous” collection.

“The city is well-known as having an absolutely outstanding collection of medieval silver for example and I think we’ve got to look closely and say have we accounted for all these items safely”, he said.

“Some of the items are worth substantial sums of money and I do think there may be high-value items included in this list.

“These are items that belong to the citizens of Aberdeen and I think we have responsibilities.”

He added: “I think what we’ve got to do now is go back to officers and seek a report as to what has happened and what lessons can be learned. I have written to officers asking for that to happen.”

Designed by architect Alexander Marshall McKenzie, the art gallery in the city’s Schoolhill first opened in 1885.

When it re-opened in 2019, VisitScotland described it as a “showstopper” that would underpin Aberdeen’s “cultural renaissance”.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland named it among 14 buildings as their 2021 award winners.

Prince Charles officially re-opened the refurbished gallery in September.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.