Crisis-Hit British Museum Names Interim Director

Disaster-Hit British Museum Names Interim Director

Virtually three weeks after the British Museum was plunged into disaster by the revelation of thefts from its storerooms, the London establishment mentioned it could come underneath new management.

On Saturday evening, the museum mentioned in a information launch that Mark Jones, a former director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, was to turn into its interim director, topic to British authorities approval.

George Osborne, the British Museum’s chairman, mentioned within the launch that Jones was “some of the skilled and revered museum leaders on the planet, and he’ll supply the management and grip the museum wants proper now.”

“His priorities are to speed up the cataloging of the gathering, enhance safety, and reinforce pleasure within the curatorial mission of the museum,” Osborne mentioned.

Jones, 72, who didn’t didn’t remark within the information launch, replaces Hartwig Fischer, a German artwork historian who resigned on Aug. 25 — 9 days after the museum introduced {that a} employee had stolen “gems of semiprecious stones and glass,” some 1000’s of years previous, from its shops.

A couple of days after these thefts have been introduced, The New York Instances and the BBC printed emails that confirmed Fischer had dismissed warnings from an artwork supplier a few thief among the many museum’s employees. In 2021, the supplier contacted museum directors with what he mentioned was proof {that a} senior curator had tried to promote gadgets from the gathering on eBay.

A couple of weeks earlier than the scandal broke, Fischer introduced he was would depart the British Museum in 2024, and the museum started looking for a substitute. That search will proceed underneath Jones’s interim management.

Jones will arrive to an overflowing in tray. In current weeks, a number of international governments together with Greece and Nigeria have renewed claims for artifacts within the British Museum’s assortment. The museum can also be set to announce a serious refurbishment challenge for which Jones must oversee a fund-raising drive.

The brand new chief will not be a stranger to such challenges. Throughout his time main the Victoria and Albert Museum, from 2001 to 2011, Jones reintroduced free admission and oversaw a serious refurbishment of the galleries. He additionally handled the fallout from a number of thefts. In three incidents in 2004, thieves stole eight Italian Renaissance bronze plaquettes from the museum; 15 Meissen porcelain figures price practically $4,000 every; and $100,000 price of Chinese language jade. After these incidents, the museum tightened its safety, together with by changing previous show instances and putting in improved surveillance cameras and alarm methods.

Jones reduce his tooth as a museum administrator on the British Museum, the place he was a curator for cash and medals from for 1974 to 1992. Shortly earlier than he left to run the Nationwide Museums of Scotland, he oversaw the acclaimed exhibition “Pretend? The Artwork of Deception,” which included counterfeit gadgets that the British Museum had been duped into buying.

Some of the high-profile points that any British Museum director should grapple with is the way forward for the Parthenon Marbles, typically referred to as the Elgin Marbles, a set of sculptures and frieze fragments that after adorned the Parthenon, in Athens. In 2002, Jones supported a marketing campaign to share the artifacts between Britain and Greece. “It may be good to show objects at completely different locations,” he advised The Observer, a British newspaper, on the time.

Since November 2021, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece and Osborne, the British Museum chair, have been holding talks over a possible deal that may see a few of the sculptures journey from London to Athens on a long-term mortgage.

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