British Museum

British Museum to fully digitise its collection after thefts

British Museum to fully digitise its collection after thefts
Artefacts are displayed at the British Museum in London, Britain, 23 August 2023. The British Museum dismissed a member of staff and the Metropolitan Police are investigating after artefacts which were reported 'missing, stolen or damaged' over a 'significant' period of time. Art dealer Ittai Gradel alleges that in February 2021 he had notified the British Museum to be aware of potentially stolen items from the collection but was reportedly told "all objects were accounted for". EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

LONDON, Oct 18 (Reuters) - The British Museum said on Wednesday it planned to digitise its entire collection citing the need to secure public access its vast catalogue after it reported in August that 2,000 artefacts had been stolen or were missing.

The museum, one of the most visited in the world, has been dealing with the aftermath of thefts which highlighted internal failings and led to the exit of its director.

“We have taken steps to improve security and are now confident that a theft of this kind can never happen again,” the British Museum’s interim director, Mark Jones, said in a statement.

“But we cannot and must not assume that the security of the collection, in a wider sense, can be achieved simply by locking everything away. It is my belief that the single most important response to the thefts is to increase access.”

The announcement came as the museum’s Chair George Osborne was being questioned by parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport committee on how the thefts had happened and what steps were being taken to make sure they could not happen again.

The museum sacked a member of staff over the incident, which is also being investigated by London’s Metropolitan Police.

The proposed digitisation project would take 5 years, with 2.4 million records to upload or upgrade. Its collection totals at least 8 million objects according to the museum’s website.

(Reporting by Muvija M; editing by William James)


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