British Museum Friends Advisory Council
The British Museum Friends (originally the British Museum Society) was founded in 1969 with the aim of supporting the Museum in its work. The British Museum Friends pay an annual subscription in support of the Museum’s work and in return they receive a range of benefits.
Since 2012 the British Museum Friends has been governed by the Trustees of the British Museum (acting as the Trustees of the British Museum Friends) and assisted by an advisory council (‘the Council’).
The role of the Council is to advise on the best way of fulfilling the Charity’s aims of supporting the work of the British Museum while ensuring an excellent experience for all Members by advising on areas including, but not limited to, marketing and communications, fundraising, and compliance.
The term of appointment to the Advisory Council is four years, and members are eligible to serve up to two consecutive terms.
Current Members of Advisory Council
Professor Clive Gamble, Chairman
I teach archaeology at the University of Southampton and specialise in how we became human. Following the trail of our earliest ancestors as they settled the earth has led me to explore sites in every inhabitable continent.
I’m often asked which my favourite Palaeolithic cave is. From a very long list I’d have to choose the one I’m currently investigating, the spectacular granite headland of La Cotte de St Brelade on the southern coast of Jersey. Here the towering cliffs shelter a quarter of a million years of occupation and thousands of stone tools, mammoth and woolly rhino bones. There are even some Neanderthal remains. Paradise for a Palaeolithic archaeologist like me!
I have been a Trustee of the British Museum since 2010. I am the nominee of the Society of Antiquaries – a learned society that was founded 50 years before the British Museum opened its doors. When the British Museum Friends Advisory Council was set up in 2013 I became its first chair. Since becoming a Member and a Trustee, I have written two books – Settling the Earth (2013) and Archaeology, the basics (2015). Both of them draw heavily on my closer involvement with the British Museum’s 8 million objects.
My favourite thing about being a British Museum Member is the way it helps a ‘studious and curious person’ such as myself to be constantly surprised and delighted by the myriad ways to learn about history through objects. The Ice Age art exhibition was a brilliant example. I’d seen many of these marvellous objects in my travels around Europe, but to see them gathered in one place helped me understand them in a different way. That gathering of knowledge and expertise, and the intellectual excitement it produces, can only happen at the British Museum. And being a Member meant I could go back and see them time after time.
David Scott, Vice Chairman
A chartered accountant and banker by profession, I have a long-standing enthusiasm for and commitment to the heritage sector. After 20 years working in international corporate finance I decided to leave full-time City-based work to focus on a series of voluntary or part-time roles in things I was passionate about.
I was first inspired by the British Museum as a schoolboy visitor to the Pompeii exhibition in the 1970s, and constantly find new artistic and architectural inspiration at the Museum. Having been a Member on and off since my student days, in 2009 I successfully applied to join the Council of the British Museum Friends. I am a particular fan of the exhibition programme and the Museum’s use of new technologies to reveal hidden secrets in ancient objects.
In 2007 my family and I took on the tenancy of an architecturally important Modern Movement house owned by the National Trust, The Homewood in Esher, Surrey. We are responsible for looking after the house, maintaining its 6-acre woodland garden, opening the house and garden to the public up to two days a week from April to October, and leading a wonderful group of National Trust volunteers who assist in the house, garden and grounds.
Since 2011 I have also served as an elected as a member of the Council of the National Trust, having served on the National Trust London and South East Advisory Board from 2004 to 2013.
I had a professional career in international finance until 1991 when I switched to university administration and promotion overseas, before retiring in 2006. Always passionate about textiles, especially traditional techniques, I have amassed a considerable textile collection with a focus on South East Asia and south-west China. I launched a tribal textile information website in 2000 with an associated forum, aiming to provide an online resource to assist fellow enthusiasts around the world.
In retirement I have been able to indulge my textile interests via the internet, museums and textile groups. I hope to be able to share my professional experience and personal interests for the benefit of the Museum and its Members.
I initially joined the British Museum Friends in 1989, drawn in by the ‘Caves of a Thousand Buddhas’ exhibition when planning a trip to China, including the Dunhuang caves. I maintained my Membership when I moved from London to Canterbury in 1993 wanting to continue supporting the Museum, receiving the magazine and to be kept in touch with activities – especially before the ubiquity of the internet.
The British Museum has an incredible resource of textiles and other items of material culture in its huge collection. From time to time special textiles appear on short-term display, particularly in Room 91 where the barkcloth exhibition was a stunning example after the very careful work by the Museum’s conservators. This has been followed by the huge, complex, Assamese Vrindavani Vastra textile. The excellent online research database provides user-friendly access with images for a major part of the collection. Viewings may be arranged to see selected items for individual research or group visits in the study room at Blythe House, where I have experienced several excellent visits. I really value this accessibility which has enriched my retirement.
I have a background in economics but now write social history, sell second-hand books, and have a wide variety of volunteering and governance roles in education and the heritage sector, including with the National Trust.
One of my earliest memories is of queuing with my brother and father to see the 1972 Tutankhamun exhibition at the British Museum. I often return to the favourite departments of my childhood such as Clocks and Watches, but one of the joys of the British Museum is that on every visit I find something fascinating that I have never seen before. As I live in Bristol, I am particularly interested in the Museum as national (and indeed international) institution and hope that I bring that non-London perspective to the Advisory Board.
I am a commercial lawyer, currently working in-house as Senior Legal Counsel for a company which offers online and mobile games to over 100 million players each month. My day-to-day work involves negotiating commercial deals, battling intellectual property infringements and getting stuck into privacy law and corporate governance.
This is a far cry from my days as a Classics student at Oxford University. Back then, I concentrated on ancient history (charmed by Herodotus and Alexander the Great) and a spot of philosophy. Loath to leave it all behind, I worked in the Education Department at the British Museum before embarking on my career in law.
Since then, I have regularly visited the British Museum, fascinated by its huge collection and its ability to inform and provide escape. I feel very lucky to have the British Museum on my doorstep, but think that the Museum does a fantastic job in opening the door to its collection not only in London, but across the UK and globally. It really is an exciting time to be involved with this incredible institution, given the opportunities afforded by social media (and even 3D printing) to extend its reach.
It is a great honour to help to serve the British Museum Membership as part of the British Museum Friends Advisory Council. I believe the work of the Council is invaluable in bringing many fresh eyes and ears to the table. The British Museum Membership is a force to be reckoned with – we are 70,000 and counting!
I am currently the Head of PR and Social Media at Moonpig.com. Previously I have worked in social media consultancy roles advising brands and organisations on digital strategy.
I first became acquainted with the British Museum as a student at the London School of Economics. I would often wander from gallery to gallery with no exact route in mind – my only aim was to happily discover and learn. When I started my professional career and earned my first pay rise, my first treat was to purchase British Museum Membership.
I joined the British Museum Council with the hopes of sharing my digital and social media experience to help the Museum engage with current Members and wider audiences. I believe the British Museum experience does not necessarily end once one leaves the front gates – it can have a long-lasting relationship with audiences across a number of communication channels.
If pressed to choose a single piece in the British Museum as my favourite (what a difficult decision!) I would select the Basse Yutz flagons. To me they balance art with practical use – playfulness and a hint of danger. There are so many unanswered questions surrounding the flagons, but that’s what makes looking at them such a joy.
Kyle Lewis Jordan
I am an undergraduate student at University College London reading Ancient History and Egyptology. I’ve been fascinated by Egyptology since I was six years old, and ever since I was ten I’ve wanted to one day become the next Director of the British Museum. Thus, when I first arrived in London to start my studies, it only made sense that the first place I went to was the Museum itself. To me the British Museum is *the* Museum. It is, in my mind, the best equipped to explore human history – from the days of Egypt right up to the present day – not just in terms of the evolution of our material culture, but also the evolution of our imagination and understanding of ourselves. This is why I love the Museum, and take every opportunity I can to visit.
I am very proud and humbled, therefore, to be able to join the British Museum Friends Advisory Council. I hope that through doing so my dreams and aspirations for the Museum can positively contribute to its continuation as a world-leading institution. Then one day, when I am Director of the Museum (for that day will come!), I can look back on this experience and truly appreciate how crucial a role the Members play in making the Museum the wonderful institution that it is.
While I would say it’s impossible for me to choose a sole object in the Museum which is my ‘favourite’, if I had to choose one it would be the Gayer-Anderson cat. To me it’s a true testament to the finesse of Egyptian craftsmanship, but also embodies the longevity of the Egyptian civilisation. It is just one of the many objects housed by the Museum which demonstrates the dogmatic principles that were always at the heart of the Egyptian psyche, even after multiple conquests and subjugations from foreign powers.
My original training is in Archaeological Science (using scientific methods and equipment to help uncover the past). Around the turn of the millennium I had the good fortune to be part of the Museum’s Department of Conservation and Scientific Research.
Since then I started my own company specialising in online applications, web content and community building, often with a historical focus. For me, joining the British Museum Friends felt like coming home.
Being on the British Museum Friends Advisory Council allows me to give something back to a place that I love. Having worked within and without – there is nowhere quite like it – from the size and reach of its collection to the commitment and dedication of people who work there. It is special.
The British Museum Friends are a vital part of this great institution. The support given by the Friends means new, important acquisitions can be made, more research can be undertaken (both in the field and the laboratory), and ultimately more can be presented to everyone who walks through the gates. Members help the Museum across the board.
There are many famous objects in the Museum, the Rosetta Stone, the Portland Vase, the Lewis chessmen – but my favourite is something different and not often seen: the Scanning Electron Microscope, tucked away in the scientific research labs. It is a machine capable of not only analysing what an object is made of, but also it is able to see how it was made, with the ability to magnify 100,000 times. It is a marvel of the modern age put to use in the service of the past. I would like one at home.
It’s not all work of course, in my spare time I enjoy table-top games, 3D photography (Victorian and modern) and ‘cheap seats’ opera!
As a long-time Member of the Friends it is a privilege to serve on the Advisory Council to support the British Museum in caring for world treasures and sharing them freely with everyone, and in offering Friends an enjoyable and enriching Membership experience, helping us to feel part of the Museum community.
When I first joined the British Museum Society in the early 1990s I lived in the City and worked in Soho, so the Museum felt like my local museum. I visited regularly and attended all the Members' evenings. Its rich collection helps us learn about our past, explore our common humanity and develop our understanding of different cultures. One of the most exciting visits was donning a hard hat to see the early stages of the Great Court work from the roof, and I still proudly point out to friends ‘our’ funded pane of glass in the canopy.
I left the BBC in 2012 to pursue my other interests in arts and heritage. In addition to learning about and practising art, I am the Chair of the Trustee Board of a small charity which cares for a world-class collection of Victorian fine and decorative art, and I am also a Trustee of the Friends of my local art school.
As well as art I have an interest in ancient history and it is fascinating to explore Museum objects from places I've visited around the world. However, the British galleries are my favourite part of the Museum, with so many wonderful objects, such as the exquisite Sutton Hoo treasures.
I am a London-based marketer and I have been coming to the British Museum since I was a young child.
I am now the father of three school age kids, and I am proud to be able to bring my own children to the Museum to enjoy sleepovers, exhibitions and the amazing atmosphere and unique architecture. I have a special interest in the Middle Eastern galleries.
I currently manage a tech start-up I co-founded in 2014, and I advise larger corporates on Marketing Strategy.
I am a partner with PwC in financial services with an accounting background. I also worked with some charities and as such applied to work with the British Museum Friends when they needed an accountant to join the Board.
I had studied Classics at my secondary school and have always had a love for history, specifically ancient history and classical antiquity. My first experience was when we had a trip with school for three weeks backpacking through Greece visiting all important ancient Greek cities.
I love many aspects of the British Museum and often try to visualise myself back in time when I watch the objects and think about their surroundings and people at the time. My favourite sculptures are the two colossal winged human-headed lions in the sculpture gallery – just due to their size and how wonderful it must have been to enter the Nimrud palace with such an entrance.
With a background in classical art and archaeology, I feel attuned to the inherent curiosity that drives the appreciation of artefacts as a gateway to uncovering remote or long lost cultures.
Since graduating, I have worked in Marketing, PR and Business Development and my relationship with the British Museum has evolved, taking advantage of the huge diversity of resources and events that allow visitors to explore unfamiliar topics in an accessible and friendly manner.
I particularly admire the Museum's ability to use its world-class collection to generate fresh perspectives on how we understand our collective past and, in turn, question contemporary attitudes about society and culture. My favourite aspect of the Museum is how well it excels in highlighting connections. For instance, to be able to walk from the sculptures of the Parthenon to those from the rural shrine of Apollo Epikourious at Bassai within the Museum and discern similarities in themes and styles between the two is very special indeed.
I joined the Advisory Council because I would like to create a stronger dialogue between the Museum and its Members, and help the wider community to have a more active relationship with the Museum and its development, regardless of their location.
I am Managing Director of WPN Chameleon, a leading digital and direct marketing agency and my background is in digital, technology and fundraising. I have been on the British Museum Friends Advisory Council since 2010. I use my experience to contribute to the Advisory Council to help grow the Membership and support current Members.
I am a regular visitor to the Museum and I feel lucky to have my office within walking distance! My favourite Museum object is the Lewis chessmen set of chess pieces. I am fascinated by the mystery around the history of the pieces, I like a game of chess, and I love to imagine people playing chess with these pieces back in the 12th century!