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  1. Wealth
May 2, 2013

After defeat over the Marquis of Lansdowne, the director of the Geffrye Museum must now resign

By Spear's

There has been victory in saving the pub, but defeat because the Geffrye is back to square one

Victory! The Marquis of Lansdowne, the nineteenth-century pub threatened by the arrogant development plans of the Geffrye Museum, has been saved. But in victory, defeat, for the entire redevelopment plan must now be scrapped, and the Geffrye loses all its Heritage Lottery Foundation funding. Square one.

This is an unhappy place to be. Had David Dewing, the Geffrye’s director, not been so arrogant as to declare he had ‘no interest in the culture of the Labouring Classes’ as justification for bulldozing the pub, the pub’s plight might not have attained such notoriety. His philistine intransigence has hurt the Geffrye more than he can imagine.

It is clear now that David Dewing must resign as director of the Geffrye. He has inflicted significant damage to the reputation of the museum, both London-wide and in the museum community, and he can hardly be considered a suitable figure to lead the Geffrye through whatever stage of development it now devises, with all the money it will have to attract.

Who among funders and donors will have confidence in him to see the project through? How can he remain at a museum devoted to history when he showed such keenness to demolish history? Who, indeed, even thinks he’s a nice person after his remark? If I were a trustee of the Geffrye’s board, I’d be considering my responsibilities to the museum and its best interests, and whether Dewing could serve them.

PS: Spear’s cover artist Adam Dant played a part in defending the Marquis of Lansdowne with his satirical illustration of patronising attitudes to the ‘labouring classes’, available as a tea towel. Happily, it has now sold out.

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