Mary Beard and the British Museum - who runs the UK's cultural institutions?
Post-doctoral researcher, Dr Kim Marie Spence discusses the relationship between the UK's national museums and galleries and the Government.
Post-doctoral researcher, Dr Kim-Marie Spence discusses the relationship between the UK's national museums and galleries and the Government.
Many of those within academic and cultural circles in the UK were shocked and angered recently when it was reported that the government had refused to allow the nomination of one of the country’s leading public intellectuals to the board of trustees of the British Museum. Mary Beard was rejected, reportedly by order of the prime minister’s office, apparently because of her outspoken pro-European Union views.
To put this into context, No 10 is reported to have rejected someone whose CV reads as follows: Dame Commander of the British Empire, professor of classics at Cambridge University, Royal Academy of Arts professor of ancient literature and classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement. And this, apparently, because she takes an opposing view on one of the key issues of the day.
Former BBC World Service boss Sir John Tusa – himself a former trustee of the British Museum – condemned the decision, calling it an “absolute scandal”. It has been reported that the British Museum will defy the government and that Beard will still be appointed to one of five trustee positions that the museum controls itself (the government and the Queen control the other 20).