Patara. C. 400 BC.
AR Hemidrachm. the second known example.
Alexandria. Trajan, 98-117.
AE Drachm. Unicum.
Guglielmo Gonzaga, 1538-1587.
AR Grosso 1550.
A Numismatist at the Head of the British Museum?
by Björn Schöpe, translated by Maike Meßmann
In the last few weeks, the world has been turned upside down for the British Museum. After it became known that presumably thousands of objects from the museum’s collection had been stolen and that warnings about the possible culprit had been ignored, both Director Hartwig Fischer and Deputy Director Jonathan Williams stepped down on 25 August 2023.
A New Deputy Director
Those who expected a curator or keeper of the British Museum to become interim deputy director were disappointed. As The Telegraph put it, George Osborne, the chair of the British Museum’s board of trustees, informed the employees that Carl Heron will become interim deputy director. Heron is a bioarchaeologist who first worked as a professor at Bradford University and then became head of the British Museum’s Department of Scientific Research in 2015. There he examines organic material from excavations using scientific methods. He knows the institution but, at the same time, has a certain distance regarding the daily business.
Will the Interim Director Change the Museum’s Policy regarding Greece?
On Saturday, 2 September 2023, the media reported that George Osborne announced the board of trustee’s decision to propose Sir Mark Jones for the position as Interim Director. Rishi Sunak, the British Prime Minister, has the final say in the matter. 72-year-old Mark Jones is art historian and numismatist. He worked at the numismatic collection of the British Museum for eighteen years, where he curated the famous exhibition “FAKE? The Art of Deception”. From 1992 until 2001 he was head of the National Museums of Scotland and between 2001 and 2010, he was Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. From 2010 until his retirement in 2016, he was Master of the St Cross College at Oxford University.
In 2022, the Observer interviewed Jones with regard to the Elgin Marbles. The museum director emphasised how important it was to work together with Greece as a partner in order to find a solution. Rumours are circulating whether a new Director Jones will have a different position regarding Greece in the matter of the Parthenon Sculptures.
The Guardian quoted from a press release of George Osborne: “Mark is one of the most experienced and respected museum leaders in the world, and he will offer the leadership and grip the museum needs right now. We are both clear that his priorities are to accelerate the cataloguing of the collection, improve security, and reinforce pride in the curatorial mission of the museum. I promised we would learn lessons and then lay the foundations for a strong future. Mark’s appointment is a big step in that direction.”