The British Museum is in crisis, argues the New York Times in its extensive report from London.
And it isn’t going through one of the usual crises, like, for example, a financial crisis or a leadership crisis. It is facing an unprecedented crisis – a crisis that goes to the heart of the Museum’s existence: a crisis of security for the objects it houses and exhibits. In other words, it is unable to protect these treasures.
Obviously the crisis did not develop overnight. It has been going on for years. However, it came to the attention of the public when on August 16 the Museum announced that it had fired one of its employees – he has not yet been arrested – for stealing “gems of semiprecious stones and glass” from its storehouses.
This is the definition of complete failure for a Museum!
The hypocrisy and audacity of the English knows no bounds.
For years they justified their refusal to return important objects stolen from various countries of the world by noting the security they provided, unlike their countries of origin. They also cited the huge number of visitors of about 5.5 million in the year before the coronavirus.
The issue of security can no longer be used as an excuse, however, as the Minister of Culture of Greece, Lina Mendoni, very aptly commented.
Any argument that the Parthenon Sculptures are safer in London than Greece “has collapsed,” she said.
And it has collapsed from a torrent of criticism from an international audience.
During this period of crisis, the British Museum may not be able to withstand another round of questioning regarding the return of the Parthenon Marbles to their proper home, in the Acropolis Museum.
The crisis plaguing it will also shorten the time when the British Museum’s managers will be forced to face not only the issue of the security of the treasures but also its colonial history.
And then they will have no excuse to keep them in London.