British Museum shocked as its stolen artifacts are stolen from it

The Chinese pronounciation of “x”, yep. :slight_smile:


The accuser also wrote this book

which is free, and interesting,


I’ve always liked this James Acaster bit on British museums.


OT, but they filmed that scene at the High Museum, here in ATL! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Here, have a relevant podcast series:

and if you can get access to it, the TV series


Was going to share this, but I see you beat me too it


Went there in the spring and of all the things I did on my UK trip, the British Museum was probably the biggest waste of time. It irked me when I saw the exhibits on North American Indigenous artifacts because they had stuff that was for sure stolen, or at least given in good faith that was never returned (thanks for the beads, we’ll take your land too). I’ve also been to the Smithsonians in DC and The Field Museum in Chicago and there were many more empty spaces there indicating the item has either been returned or is pending. You got the feeling the modern curators care and there’s an honest effort to right those wrongs.

British Museum? They need to speed up that process… it was shocking how few items were “being repatriated”. You see these giant stone items in books and they look impressive and serious but in person the rather bland presentation and double-wide prams full screaming kids takes the shine off.

BTW - Victoria & Albert Museum is by far the superior experience. In fact, there are so many wonderful museums in London, most are free and a better use of your time than the British Museum. I can’t wait to go back.


I’ve been following some of the campaign to get the museum to return artefacts. It legally can’t. It does not have the power to give up any of its artefacts, because Parliament made a law saying it has to keep all of it.

The hack some people have proposed is for them to loan items to their native owners, and wait for them to not return them. Even this plan would be dodgy, and could get the relevant people in the museum prosecuted under this law, maybe. Any law that’s not been tested is a maybe.


I honestly don’t understand the glee in this thread. This is an issue entirely separate from the repatriation issue.

How is it better that these artefacts were sold to the highest bidder (literally)? They weren’t given back to anyone and being on the open market they’re lost to society. Previously everyone of us had the chance to see them. Even if they were not on display, they were, or were eventually going to be, in the digital collection and they were available for research and future exhibitions. There was also the possibility that they would be repatriated in the future, when the UK has a government less obsessed with culture wars.

Now, though? Now they’re in some rich person’s vitrine, only to be seen by their rich person friends and never to be returned.


It is kind of weird to blame the museum for all of the looting committed by the British Empire. And to expect the museum to make right for it.


Dear Brittain,
We would like to have our history and artifacts back.

Thank you,

Much of the Known World

There’s a TV show?!?! I will have to see what I can do to see it. I love that podcast!

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The thieves stole the photos off the website too?? Diabolical!

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Why is that weird? Expecting stolen goods to be returned seems a reasonable stance.

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I just mean in the sense that the return of the stolen goods would only be a first step toward making right.

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He was a senior curator trying to cover his tracks. As far as I understand he did manipulate the database for the objects that were already registered. So yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if that included the image database.


Q: Why are the pyramids in Egypt?

A: Wouldn’t fit on the English ships.

I’m still not sure if that’s a joke or a footnote from a history book.


And, in the case of Egypt, wouldn’t fit on Napoleon’s ships.

Lots of “finders” keepers, back in the day:

“The Rosetta Stone was excavated during Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt (1798-1801), captured by the British at his defeat, and is now in the British Museum.”


Not just the Rosetta stone, either