Daily Mail

Bri­tish Mu­seum takes founder off his pedestal

- By Emine Sin­maz

THE Bri­tish Mu­seum has been ac­cused of eras­ing its own his­tory af­ter re­mov­ing the bust of its founder from a pedestal over slav­ery links.

The sculp­ture of Sir Hans Sloane has now been put in a dis­play of arte­facts that ex­plain his legacy as a ‘col­lec­tor and slave owner’.

The move has in­fu­ri­ated cam­paign­ers, who called the mu­seum’s ac­tions shame­ful.

Sloane’s 71,000 arte­facts be­came the start­ing point of the Bri­tish Mu­seum af­ter he left them to the state in his will.

But the physi­cian and phi­lan­thropist funded his col­lect­ing through the sugar plan­ta­tion of his wife’s fam­ily.

Cam­paign group Save Our Stat­ues said it shows how far the mu­seum had ‘be­come in­fected with this woke dis­ease’.

A spokesman added: ‘Such dis­re­spect and in­grat­i­tude to a man whose gen­eros­ity has helped pre­serve so much world his­tory for mil­lions to en­joy. To now shame him per­ma­nently is dis­grace­ful. An­other of our once great in­sti­tu­tions gone woke, happy to pub­licly shame their founder and re­write our his­tory to ap­pease a mi­nor­ity. It’s clear we can no longer trust them with our her­itage.’

Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Richard Bin­g­ley said: ‘I can’t think of a more ironic sit­u­a­tion than a mu­seum eras­ing its own his­tory by re­mov­ing the bust of its founder.

‘It’s the sort of daft sce­nario that Monty Python scriptwrit­ers might have con­jured up. We urge the Gov­ern­ment to step in, to treat this ur­gent sit­u­a­tion as they would a fail­ing school, and sus­pend the in­sti­tu­tion’s lead­er­ship.’

But his­to­rian and broad­caster David Olu­soga called the de­ci­sion as a ‘re­ally use­ful step for­ward’. He told BBC Ra­dio 4’s the Today Pro­gramme: ‘ Very of­ten with these busts and stat­ues the prob­lem is the pedestal. The pedestal means af­fir­ma­tion, it means val­i­da­tion. It means hero­i­sa­tion of the per­son and their ac­tions.

‘When peo­ple talk about top­pling stat­ues what they mean is re­mov­ing them from that po­si­tion on a pedestal that says this was a great and good man and we should not question them.

‘They should be on dis­play, Hans Sloane is a his­toric fig­ure, but is he re­ally some­body in all as­pects of his life that we went to cel­e­brate and val­i­date? I think it’s a re­ally use­ful step for­ward. It’s not eras­ing his­tory, this is the myth, this is the false flag that is con­stantly raised. It is tak­ing some­thing off a pedestal, re­mov­ing that form of val­i­da­tion, and hav­ing it on public dis­play for public dis­cus­sion in an­other con­text.’

The de­bate was sparked af­ter Hartwig Fis­cher, the di­rec­tor of the mu­seum in cen­tral Lon­don, said the in­sti­tu­tion had de­lib­er­ately ‘pushed him [Hans] off the pedestal’. He told the Daily Telegraph: ‘We must not hide any­thing. Heal­ing is knowl­edge.’

Neal Spencer, the cu­ra­tor be­hind the Sloane dis­play, said the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment had pro­vided ‘a cer­tain level of ur­gency’ to the over­haul.

 ??  ?? Re­moved: Sir Hans Sloane
Re­moved: Sir Hans Sloane

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