British Museum Director Resigns Amid Robbery Scandal


British Museum Director Hartwig Fischer stepped down nowadays, August 25, months forward of his slated 2024 departure, and Deputy Director Jonathan Williams agreed to voluntarily step again from his tasks in the meanwhile. The bulletins come amid extremely publicized experiences of the robbery of things within the museum’s assortment by way of one among its personal workers, prompting an interior overview and police investigation. Within the wake of the experiences, the governments of Nigeria and Greece have pointed to possible safety dangers on the establishment and renewed calls for the go back of the Benin Bronzes and the Parthenon Marbles.

On August 16, the British Museum introduced it had fired an unnamed team of workers member in the case of plenty of lacking gadgets from its assortment. The establishment recognized the stolen items as small works of art together with jewellery, gemstones, and glass relationship from between the fifteenth century BCE to the 1800s. The ones gadgets had been stored in a garage room and had now not been just lately exhibited. A British Museum spokesperson instructed Hyperallergic that they may now not reveal the choice of lacking works, mentioning the continued investigation.

Even if the thefts have simplest just lately entered the general public eye, the museum has been conscious about them for no less than two years, consistent with emails reviewed by way of the New York Occasions. In 2021, Dutch-Danish student and gemstones broker Ittai Gradel alerted the museum that 3 gemstones from the gathering had been indexed at the on-line market eBay. Gradel had bought a kind of gadgets plus every other 69 works from the similar vendor. He instructed the establishment on the time that he believed the thief was once running from inside the museum and management opened an investigation.

Deputy Director Williams reported again to Gradel that no gadgets had been lacking and no team of workers participants had been at fault. Now Williams, who has served as deputy director since 2012, will step again because the museum conducts its overview, consistent with a British Museum observation shared with Hyperallergic.

Fischer, who has served as museum director for 8 years, addressed Gradel’s testimony the day gone by, August 24. He stated the museum had introduced a complete audit in 2022 that “printed a larger downside,” main the museum to start out the method of firing the team of workers member, whose title has now not been made public. (Some UK media shops have speculated that the worker in query was once Peter Higgs, a veteran curator of Greek artwork on the museum who was once let pass remaining month. Higgs’s circle of relatives has denied his father’s involvement within the reported thefts and the British Museum instructed Hyperallergic that it will now not verify the previous employee’s identification.)

In his formal resignation announcement, Fischer admitted wrongdoing on behalf of the museum. “It’s obtrusive that the British Museum didn’t reply as comprehensively because it will have to have in accordance with the warnings in 2021, and to the issue that has now absolutely emerged. The accountability for that failure will have to in the end relaxation with the Director,” reads the observation.

The British Museum is now on the lookout for a brand new director, a procedure board chairman George Osborne says has been underway since Fischer first introduced his resignation remaining month.

As interior strife embroils the London establishment, the British Museum is going through heightened requires the repatriation of stolen cultural assets. Director of Nigeria’s Nationwide Fee for Museums and Monuments Abba Isa Tijani addressed the thefts in feedback made the day gone by, August 24, to Sky Information

“It’s stunning to listen to that the international locations and museums which were telling us that the Benin Bronzes would now not be protected in Nigeria, have thefts taking place there,” Tijani stated. The artifacts had been seized by way of British forces all the way through the 1897 Benin Expedition. Different museums, together with the Smithsonian Establishment, the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork, and Germany’s nationwide museums have already agreed to the bronzes’ go back, however the British Museum has stood company in its refusal.

“The problem is that those are stolen artifacts,” Tijani stated. “They usually will have to be returned to Nigeria to the communities that they belong to.”

In the meantime, Greece made but every other call for for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles. The rustic issued its first formal request for his or her go back again in 1983. The United Kingdom has in large part endured to say entire possession of the traditional frieze, and negotiations seem to have reached a standstill. Greece’s Minister of Tradition Lina Mendoni instructed Greek newspaper To Vima that the loss and deterioration of gadgets in a museum assortment is an “extraordinarily severe and in particular unhappy tournament,” consistent with a translation by way of Euronews.

“In reality, when this occurs from inside of, past any ethical and felony accountability, a significant query arises in regards to the credibility of the museum group itself,” Mendoni added.

London’s Metropolitan Police is taking a look into the thefts. As of the day gone by, August 24, the government had interviewed a suspect, however no arrests had been made.



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