Museum Security Network

Tom Flynn – A History of the World in Looted Objects

A History of the World in Looted Objects
The most remarkable thing about the British Museum’s forthcoming collaboration with the BBC — A History of the World in 100 Objects — is the almost total lack of critical response to the project from any quarter save for a few lonely voices of indignation echoing from the African subcontinent.
Instead we’ve witnessed a nauseating media hagiography of British Museum director Neil MacGregor in which he single-handedly educates the world from the comfort of his beautiful Bloomsbury office. We hear of “Saint Neil”, a “suave and smooth-talking Scot”, with a “lilting highland brogue”, a “skilled diplomat” with “infectious schoolboy enthusiasm”, a “natural storyteller” and “the most fortunate man alive.”
Already it’s clear that nothing will be allowed to derail this apotheosis on its upward trajectory to Mount Parnassus. Well, I’m sorry to fart in the lift, but I have one or two problems with this project.
The first objection is that like all British Museum projects since MacGregor took over the directorship, it marshals in its support so much Establishment apparatus that it forecloses critical reactions. This used to be called Gleichschaltung, but let’s not overdo it. After all, this is culture, not politics, or so MacGregor would have us believe.

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