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Missing Treasures: British Museum Dismiss Staff

Missing Treasures: British Museum
British museum

The British Museum said it has sacked a staff member and alerted the police after some treasures were found to be missing, stolen or damaged.

The museum authorities announced on Wednesday that some of their valuable items have gone missing.

The items are made of gold, semi-precious stones, and glass, belonging to different periods ranging from 1500 BC to 1800 AD.

“The majority of the items in question were small pieces kept in a storeroom belonging to one of the museum’s collections,” it added.

The museum stored most of the items in a room and did not reveal how many or how valuable the items that went missing were.

The items were not for public viewing but for academic use, said the museum director, Hartwig Fischer.

“This is a highly unusual incident.

A “painstaking job,” he added.

An independent review of the museum’s security system is underway, led by a former trustee, Sir Nigel Boardman, and the chief constable of the British Transport Police, Lucy D’Orsi.

They will look into how the incident happened and how to stop it from happening again.

They will also work to get the missing items back.

The British Museum is a world-famous and respected cultural institution that holds millions of artefacts from various times and places.

Many people who care about and admire the British Museum and its collection were shocked and saddened by the news of the missing treasures.

Some wondered how such a thing could happen in such a secure and reputable institution.

Others hoped that the items would be recovered and restored to their proper place.

Some also brought up ethical questions about how the museum came into possession and retained some of its artefacts, especially those that came from other countries during colonial times. African nations have in recent years petitioned for the return of these historical objects.

In 2022, Germany signed an agreement for the return of 1,130 Benin Bronzes – the hand-cast sculptures that once lined the historic palaces of the Benin kingdom, Nigeria. The collection is believed to have been looted during a punitive colonial expedition in 1897, although Germany was not the former colonial power in Nigeria.

The British Museum alone holds 69,000 African artefacts from across the continent, including many narrative plaques that once decorated the pillars of palaces, commemorative brass-cast heads of rulers that stood on altars, as well as other religious and cultural objects.

Some British institutions have since followed in Germany’s steps, giving Nigeria a glimpse of reparations. The leadership councils of both Oxford and Cambridge Universities agreed to return a combined 213 Benin Bronzes held by Oxford’s Pitt Rivers and Ashmolean museums, as well as Cambridge’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. If successful, this would constitute the largest ever repatriation of its kind from Britain.

The British Museum is a rich source of human history and culture, but it also has a duty and challenge in retaining its collection.