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In an attempt to move on from recent controversy, the British Museum is displaying ten recovered items – including gemstones – that were stolen as part of a long-running theft. | Source: British Museum
In an attempt to move on from recent controversy, the British Museum is displaying ten recovered items – including gemstones – that were stolen as part of a long-running theft. | Source: British Museum

Culture shift: British Museum displays stolen treasures

In an attempt to move on from recent controversy, the British Museum is displaying ten recovered items – including gemstones – that were stolen as part of a long-running theft.

In August, the British Museum announced that around 2,000 objects had been stolen, damaged, or missing from its storerooms in one of the most shocking stories of the year.

Around 350 items have been recovered to date, and in a new exhibition dedicated to Ancient Roman and Greek culture, 10 of these items will be on display.

The new exhibition will showcase a further 500 objects that were not involved in the crime, with previously stolen items in their own display case and labelled.

Chair of the museum’s Board of Trustees, George Osborne, told the BBC that the exhibition was an example of ‘cultural change’ within the institution.

George Osborne, Chair of British Museum
George Osborne, Chair of British Museum
"We promised we'd show the world the gems that were stolen and recovered - rather than hide them away."
George Osborne, British Museum

"We promised we'd show the world the gems that were stolen and recovered - rather than hide them away," he said.

It’s believed that the thefts took place over 20 years and that the museum was alerted to the alleged sale of stolen items in 2021 but failed to take action.

The museum was repeatedly alerted to the theft by dealer and collector Ittai Gradel. Gradel said he has been pleased with the recent efforts to recover from the controversy.

"I am greatly pleased also to see that the whole culture of the institution appears to be changing to one of much greater openness and willingness to confront problems than what I encountered in 2021," he said.

Following the controversy, director Hartwig Fischer resigned, and former Victoria and Albert Museum director Sir Mark Jones was appointed in the interim.

The police investigation into the thefts is ongoing. Located in London, the British Museum is more than 260 years old.

BRITISH MUSEUM - new exhibition

Late bronze age earringRoman bracelet
Greek gold chain necklace with horned lion's head terminalsRoman finger ring with an inscribed bezel
Roman sard intaglioLate bronze age finger ring

 

 

RECOVERED treasures

Ancient glass intaglio with Jupiter as an eagle abducting GanymedeAncient glass intaglio with profile bust of helmeted Minerva
Ancient glass intaglio with Bacchus leaning on SilenusAncient glass intaglio with mask of Silenus
Ancient glass intaglio with profile of Roman beardless youthAncient glass cameo with Hermaphroditus
Ancient glass cameo with a lying dogAncient glass cameo with winged Cupid's head
Ancient glass cameo with winged Cupid's headModern glass cameo with bust of a bearded man

 

More reading
British Museum’s reputation challenged over jewellery theft
Jewellery and gemstones stolen from British Museum
Priest arrested for theft of $100 million gold jewellery
Freeze! Polish man facing time behind bars for brazen jewellery theft
Legendary jewellery of the Pharaohs arrives in Australia
History in the making: Australia to showcase Ancient Egyptian jewellery

 

 











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