The criticism that masterpieces belonging to the nation could not be seen in places outside London was made by Professor Thomas Bodkin, director of the Barber Institute of Fine Art, Birmingham, when he addressed the Saltire Society in Edinburgh.
Professor Bodkin said that our great national collections had grown so much that it was not possible to display them as a whole, and there was something absurd in the fact that not one of the ten pictures of Titian that were our national property had ever been seen at Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds. Shakespeare could be read anywhere, and the best music heard in all those cities. The civil servants who controlled our national collections never seemed to consider the needs of their masters. He proposed that Constable’s Hay Wain might at least go through the chief cities of England and Scotland before it went abroad again.