The Wedgwood Museum has been listed by UNESCO as one of world's top 20 cultural assets. In the Unesco register, the museum's archive now sits alongside objects such as the Bill of Rights, which is the closest document that Britain has to a written constitution as well as a copy of King Charles I's death warrant.
But the Museum is due to be broken up and sold off to pay £134m pension deficit after a high court judgment in December. As well as thousands of ceramics produced by Josiah Wedgwood, the museum, which opened in 2008, boasts an archive of more than 100,000 documents and manuscripts, and masterpieces by Stubbs, Romney and Reynolds. Such is the collection's historic significance that questions will be asked in parliament this month.
The high court ruled that the collection was an asset of Waterford Wedgwood Potteries, which went bust in 2009, and could therefore be sold to pay off their creditors, the largest of which is the Pension Protection Fund.
Members of the Wedgwood family wrote a letter to the Telegraph this weekend they write:"....We will now have to raise money to buy the very pieces of history that our family, together with employees and museum supporters worldwide, donated with the intention that they would be on display for the nation…"
Last month John Caudwell, the billionaire founder of Phones4U, the mobile phone retailer, said he would act as a lender of last resort to the museum.
He warned the act would not be “pure philanthropy” and would have “strings”.
The case is being reviewed by Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, who is expected to decide before the end of the month whether to seek leave to appeal in the case. Tristram Hunt, the television historian and a MP for Stoke, the home of the museum, is meeting with Mr Grieve this week to discuss the case.
Campaign to save the Museum is here