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Minutes of the first meeting of the Trustees of The British Museum
12 December 1753
One of the earliest documents in The British Museum Archives
The British Museum Act of 1753 set up a Board of Trustees to govern the Museum and to be responsible to Parliament for its collections, buildings and staff. There were three Principal Trustees - the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker of the House of Commons. There were also several Official Trustees, including the various Secretaries of State, and Trustees representing the Sloane, Harley and Cotton families, whose gifts had helped to establish the Museum.
At the time of their first meeting, on 11 December 1753, The British Museum did not yet have a building of its own, so the Principal and Official Trustees met in Whitehall. On that day they elected fifteen other Trustees, listed here in the minutes (records) of the meeting, and agreed to meet again in six days' time.
A Board of Trustees still governs The British Museum, although nowadays there are no 'Principal' or 'Official' Trustees. The Museum's Archives contain a complete series of minutes of its Trustees' meetings from this first in 1753 to the present day.