Title: British Museum Faces Scandal as Countries Demand Return of Stolen Cultural Relics
By Du Juan and Xu Feng, Correspondents for Xinhua News Agency
London, September 5th – The British Museum finds itself embroiled in a credibility crisis following revelations of internal theft. Numerous countries have now demanded the swift return of their cultural relics.
In response to the scandal, the museum recently announced the appointment of Mark Jones, former director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, as the acting director of the British Museum, replacing the resigned Hartwig Fischer. A spokesperson for the museum revealed that an independent review was underway, alongside an ongoing police investigation, to address the issue and learn from the incident.
In mid-August, the British Museum admitted to terminating an employee’s contract and involving the police after discovering that some of its collections were either missing, stolen, or damaged. Among the lost artifacts were gold jewelry and glass objects dating back from the 15th century BC to the 19th century AD.
George Osborne, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees, recently acknowledged that around 2,000 items from the collection had been lost. He further explained that not all stolen artifacts were adequately registered and cataloged.
In a written interview with Xinhua News Agency, a spokesperson for the British Museum stated that the institution had enlisted police assistance and implemented urgent security measures. They also confirmed the launch of an independent review to investigate the incident and learn from it.
Christopher Marinello, chief executive of the International Art Recovery Organization, expressed shock over the theft, stating that it was particularly alarming considering the British Museum’s status as one of the most important and well-funded museums in the world. Marinello, who specializes in recovering stolen artworks, raised concerns about the possibility of unregistered and uncataloged artifacts never being returned to the museum. He recommended that the relevant parties promptly release a list of stolen collections.
Established in 1753, the British Museum is one of the world’s most visited museums, housing over 8 million items. Following the cultural relic losses, several countries have demanded the British Museum’s prompt return of their respective artifacts.
Despina Kotsomba, president of the Association of Greek Archaeologists, expressed Greece’s concerns regarding the stolen Greek cultural relics. Kotsomba stated that the British Museum can no longer claim that Greek cultural heritage is better protected within its walls. Greek Culture Minister Lina Menzoni emphasized Greece’s persistent request for the return of the Parthenon marble statues, which has gained further strength with the security issues exposed by the British Museum’s loss of artifacts.
The Nigerian government has reportedly demanded the return of the Benin bronzes, currently located in Nigeria. Abba Issa Tijani, the director of the Nigerian National Museum and Monuments Committee, highlighted the irony of other countries and museums claiming that the Benin bronzes are unsafe in Nigeria when thefts have occurred elsewhere. Tijani stressed that the key issue revolves around stolen cultural relics and their rightful return. The Nigerian government plans to formally request the immediate return of the Benin bronzes from the British Museum and the British government.
According to Egyptian media reports, renowned archaeologist and former Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, expressed profound dissatisfaction with the British Museum’s handling of Egyptian cultural relics, labeling it a “serious crime.” He demanded the return of Egyptian artifacts, including the Rosetta Stone. Hawass further suggested that UNESCO and the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities organize an international conference to discuss the risks associated with retaining cultural relics in the British Museum and how to expedite their return to their places of origin.
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Xinhua News Agency, London, September 5th: Summary: The British Museum is caught in a scandal of self-theft and many countries are demanding the return of cultural relics as soon as possible
Xinhua News Agency Correspondent Du Juan Xu Feng
The British Museum has been in a crisis of credibility since the prisoners scandal came to light. The museum announced a few days ago that it will appoint Mark Jones, former director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in the United Kingdom, as acting director of the British Museum to replace Hartwig Fischer who previously resigned. A spokesman for the British Museum told Xinhua that the police investigation was ongoing and that the museum had launched an independent review to learn lessons.
The British Museum admitted in mid-August that it had fired a member of staff and called the police after discovering some of its collections were “missing, stolen or damaged”. The lost collection includes gold jewelery and glass objects from the 15th century BC to the 19th century AD. At the end of August, Fischer announced his resignation. George Osborne, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees, recently admitted that around 2,000 items from the museum’s collection had been lost. Not all collections that are stolen are properly registered and catalogued, he said.
A spokesman for the British Museum said in a written interview with a reporter from Xinhua News Agency on the 4th that the museum has asked the police to intervene in the investigation, has taken urgent measures to strengthen security, and launched an independent review to find out the incident and learn lessons from it.
Christopher Marinello, chief executive of the International Art Recovery Organisation, said in an interview with Xinhua that the theft from the British Museum was “shocking” because it was “one of the most important and well-funded museums in the world “. The lawyer, who specializes in recovering stolen works of art, is concerned that those collections which are not properly registered and cataloged will never be returned to the museum. He suggested that the relevant parties release the list of collections that have been stolen as soon as possible.
Founded in 1753, the British Museum is one of the most visited museums in the world, with a collection of more than 8 million items. After the loss of cultural relics, many countries asked the British Museum to return the cultural relics as soon as possible.
Despina Kotsomba, president of the Association of Greek Archaeologists, told the British media that Greece is very concerned about the amount of Greek cultural relics that have been stolen. “We want to tell the British Museum that they can no longer say that Greek cultural heritage can be better protected in the British Museum.” Greek Culture Minister Lina Menzoni said that Greece has been asking the British Museum to return the Parthenon marble statues. security problems highlighted by the loss of cultural relics in the British Museum have made Greece’s bid even stronger.
The Nigerian side is said to have asked the British Museum to return the Benin bronzes, which are now located in Nigeria. Abba Issa Tijani, the director of the Nigerian National Museum and Monuments Committee, said in an interview with the British media: “Some countries and museums have been telling us that Benin bronze is not safe in Nigeria, but there have been thefts in Nigeria. astonishingly. The key to this issue is that they are stolen cultural relics, and should be returned to their origin.” Tijani said the Nigerian government will write to the British Museum and the British government within a few weeks, demanding immediate return of Benin bronze.
According to Egyptian media reports, Zahi Hawass, a famous Egyptian archaeologist and former Minister of Antiquities, expressed strong dissatisfaction with the British Museum’s handling of Egyptian cultural relics “serious crimes”. He asked the British Museum to return Egyptian artefacts including the Rosetta Stone. In addition, Hawass also suggested that UNESCO and the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities organize an international conference to discuss the risks of keeping cultural relics in the British Museum and how to return them to their original places as soon as possible. (Participating reporter: Shen Danlin) (End) Return to Sohu to see more
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