A collection of marble Roman sculptures could be taken from Merseyside and sold under a planning application to Sefton Council.
The sculptures make up part of Liverpool’s World Museum collection which is the biggest of its kind outside of London and they are currently housed in the Grade II-listed Ince Blundell Hall.
The estate is now used as a nursing home and the Augustinian nuns who work there want to replace the £10m antiquities so that they can avoid damage or vandalism.
If the plan is approved then the sculptures would be conserved somewhere else and may never return to Merseyside.
Although the nuns have said that there is “no immediate intention” to sell the sculptures, campaigners are worried that the collection could be broken up into separate lots and bought by independent dealers at auction.
National Museums Liverpool (NML) claims that the marbles were bequeathed to them in 1959 by Henry Blundell, who assembled the collection. They strongly object to the sale or relocation of the Roman sculptures outside of Merseyside.
A spokesman said: “We are aware of the proposed sale of this collection by the Augustinian Order. We are investigating the issue of ownership which is complicated and stretches back several decades.”
Director at the World Museum, Steve Judd, said: “As far as we are concerned all the moveable ancient marble was gifted to the people of Liverpool more than 50 years ago. We have some of the pieces on display in the Walker Art Gallery and at World Museum while the rest remains in our safekeeping or at Ince Blundell Hall.”