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A Statement by the Royal Society for Asian Affairs on the Management of its Collections

A Statement by the Royal Society for Asian Affairs on the Management of its Collections

In 2015-16 the Royal Society for Asian Affairs sold at auction a number of items from its collections.  The sales were controversial, and concerns were raised by RSAA members and scholars in the field.  At the time the Society held that the sales were its only option to ensure its survival. 

In late 2022 and early 2023 an internal review showed that the Society’s decisions leading to the sales were significantly flawed in principle and in implementation.  The RSAA’s Board of Trustees is therefore taking steps to rectify as far as possible the mistakes that were made and to mitigate their consequences.

The entire proceeds of the 2015-16 sales, £171,391, will become a designated fund solely and directly for the benefit of the collections, their long-term sustainability, use and development.    

Within the next twelve months, the Society will commence a multi-year project to digitise its collections and to make its catalogue a more effective tool for researchers.

The RSAA’s Trustees will also consider whether there are additional skills and experience that the Society’s Board needs in order to provide effective future oversight of the Society’s affairs.        

By these means the RSAA seeks to avoid any recurrence of past mistakes; to demonstrate to its many supporters and donors that the Society’s collections are and will remain a high priority; and that best practice and appropriate investment are the basis on which the collections will in future be managed.

Questions about this statement should be addressed to the RSAA office by email to or by phone on 020 7235 5122

© Royal Society for Asian Affairs. All rights reserved.
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