The vast Wedgwood collection of pottery, art and manuscripts - regarded as one of the most important industrial archives in the world - will be broken up and sold on the open market unless pounds 2.74m can be raised by the end of November.
The collection, valued at pounds 15.75m, has been described by the UN cultural organisation, Unesco, as "unparalleled in its diversity and breadth". Most of the money has been found, but not all.
Housed in Stoke-on-Trent's Wedgwood museum, the collection has more than 8,000 ceramics and 75,000 manuscripts, as well as paintings by artists including
The future of the museum has been in doubt since Waterford Wedgwood went into administration in 2009. The demise of the company left a pounds 134m pensions liability and because the museum was still solvent - and five employees were in the pension plan - the rules meant that the full pension debt was transferred to the museum.
The museum trust went into administration but that still could not protect the collection. The high court decided in 2011 that it could be sold to repay some debt - a ruling upheld by the attorney general in
After much legal wrangling, the
The collection has been valued halfway between Christie's lower and upper valuations of pounds 11m-pounds 22m and if all goes to plan it will be bought by the
There are questions over why the collection was never properly separated from the company - as was the Wedgwood family's intention in 1961, said a representative, Alison Wedgwood, yesterday.
Deuchar said other collections, partly as a result of what had happened with Wedgwood, had now made sure they were completely legally separate from commercial entities that could go bust. "In the future, museums will learn lessons."
Raising the money was the priority, said Deuchar. Normally the
Hunt said Josiah Wedgwood was the Steve Jobs of the 18th century. "The pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent is putting on jobs again, it's making money again, it's exporting again. It is a growing industry and to lose the collection, which is such a source of inspiration to designers, would be absolutely horrific."
Public donations to the campaign will be matched pound for pound up to pounds 500,000 by a private charitable trust. Most of the cash raised so far is from the
Plates designed by the sculptor
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