‘Not everything was looted’: British Museum faces Twitter takedown over defense of collection origin
The British Museum is attempting to change their image by saying “not everything” in their collections was amassed by looters. If the reaction on Twitter is anything to go by, the campaign did not have the desired effect.
Long criticized for displaying, and refusing to return, pieces like Egypt’s Rosetta Stone, Greece’s Parthenon marbles, India’s Koh-i-Noor diamond, and Australia’s Gweagal shield, the museum has launched an initiative to gain more visitors by being open about how certain artefacts came into their possession.
Excited to see the new British Museum slogan, We Didn’t Steal *All* Of It. https://t.co/K9nIuWrTAl— Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley (@lottelydia) October 13, 2018
On Friday, the museum launched the ‘Collected Histories talks’, a monthly meeting to give visitors a nuanced take on “how, why, and in what context British Museum objects have been acquired, displayed and interpreted.”
“The talks will explore histories of collecting objects from around the world,” the museum adds.
Dr. Sushma Jansari, curator of the Asian ethnographic and South Asia collections at the British Museum, said the talks were established to change the museum’s negative public perception.
Best defence ever "Not everything is Looted"I hear British Museum is planning special section called "Unlooted Stuff" .... https://t.co/E1yNiOkphW— Sanjeev Sanyal (@sanjeevsanyal) October 13, 2018
READ MORE: Not just the Elgin Marbles: Britain’s colonial legacy lives long in UK museums
“There are a lot of partial histories and they tend to focus on the colonial aspect of the collecting so you have a bunch of people who tend to be quite angry and upset,” she told the Guardian.
“We’re trying to reset the balance a little bit. A lot of our collections are not from a colonial context; not everything here was acquired by Europeans by looting.”
Non-surprisingly, the defense that “not everything” on display in the museum was stolen didn’t exactly win over the public.
Next they'll be saying of their empire, "we didn't murder everyone"— Niall (@NiallOMurchu) October 13, 2018
"Not everything was looted" is not the MOST persuasive-sounding case https://t.co/GpC5s6VHV5— Mike Madden (@MikeMadden) October 12, 2018
‘Not everything was looted’. Hahaha. I’m no lawyer, but I am not entirely sure this argument would prevail in court.#museumofstolentreasureshttps://t.co/2h3iBH6aJH— Simon Baskerville (@nzsimonb) October 13, 2018
Only a percentage of my income comes from theft.— Max Sparber (@maxsparber) October 12, 2018