Conservator working on the lid of Muthotep

How your money helps

The support you provide to the British Museum Friends is vital.

We are currently raising money for our Scientific Research department to purchase an Arago Photogrammetry Rig. This will allow us to capture unprecedented 3D 'multiband' surface-imaging of objects.

The Museum strives to do two main things: firstly to look after and continually research the world-famous collection it houses and secondly to interpret and share this with the public. The Arago Photogrammetry Rig has the benefit of allowing us to achieve both aims at once. The rig scans objects and produces 360-degree data sets under different illumination wavelengths such as infrared and ultraviolet. These create incredibly detailed multi-layered 3D images of objects. This allows experts to view in detail aspects that you couldn’t see with the naked eye without causing damage. It will also allow us to share this data with experts across the world, promoting collaborative projects without having to transport objects and put them at risk. The incredible images will enable the Museum to offer interactive displays both on-site and online, so the public can get up close to the objects and see first-hand how we gain new understanding and insights.

Find out more about our Scientific Research Appeal

How your donations help

In previous years donations from Members have enabled us to preserve the collection, support archaeological research, invest in scientific technologies and acquire new objects. Take a closer look at some examples below. 


Preserving the collection

'Every object in the British Museum, including those you see on display, is cared for by a dedicated team of conservators. They work to preserve and investigate over eight million objects, leading and supporting the latest scientific and academic research into the collection. 

With the support of the British Museum Friends, objects such as the Lewis Chessmen, Great Court totem poles, and the British Museum's pre-Columbian Andean textile collection have received vital conservation work. This work will enable our dedicated conservation team to preserve the collection for future generations to study and enjoy. 

The generous support of Members also enabled the Museum to purchase additional environmental monitoring equipment which records the temperature and humidity within stores, galleries and showcases, 24 hours a day. This equipment became invaluable in caring for the collection when the COVID-19 lockdown began. It allowed us to remotely check the collection and then move precious objects like the Lewis Chessmen into more stable conditions. 

Conservation is often the hidden side of museum work. However, it's vital to the health of the overall collection and in providing further insight into the stories of iconic objects. We are truly indebted to you all for your support.'

– Sandra Smith, Head of Conservation

Archaeological research

The Iraq Scheme

In 2017, the British Museum Friends pledged to support the writing up and publication of the results of the Darband-i Rania Archaeological Project. Taking place in Iraqi Kurdistan, the project is directed by Dr John MacGinnis of the Middle East Department. It forms part of the British Museum’s Iraq Scheme which provides training to Iraqi archaeological colleagues. Once the fieldwork has been completed, the Friends' very generous donations will employ Dr MacGinnis for 1–2 years to carry out vital post-excavation work. This follows two very successful excavation seasons in 2018 and 2019.

'Exciting discoveries have been made at Qalatga Darband, the site of an early Parthian period settlement (about 100 BC to AD 100) controlling the western approach to the pass. One important find has been a Hellenistic coin of the ‘post-Alexander type’ which demonstrates that the pass had a military control point in the Hellenistic period. In addition, a fort dating to the time of the Assyrian Empire (about 900 to 700 BC) inside the southern part of the pass itself has been excavated. I look forward to sharing more of our discoveries with Members in the future.'

– John MacGinnis, Lead Archaeologist, Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme.

New scientific technology

Digital microscope appeal

'Through the generosity of Members, we were able to purchase a digital microscope in 2017. Since then, we have used it in numerous projects producing detailed images of intricate Scythian gold, the beautiful silver bowls from Mildenhall, the remarkable Turquoise Mosaics, stunning Hokusai woodblock prints and much more.

These colour images are striking and they help to demonstrate how the objects were made and inform on their current condition. This is helping us to tell new stories about the collection. Members’ lectures are a highlight in the annual calendar and we look forward to sharing some of our latest results with you in the future.'

– Carl Heron, Head of Scientific Research

Acquiring significant objects

The Stoney Waterloo Album

'All of us in Prints and Drawings are hugely grateful to the Friends for their generosity in ensuring we could add such a significant work, the Stoney Waterloo Album, to our collection.

The Stoney album consists of 54 drawings by Irish amateur artist Thomas Stoney (1780–1869) which record his European travels. What makes Stoney remarkable is that he seems to have been one of the first, if not the first, artist to record the blood-soaked ground on which several of the key engagements of the Battle of Waterloo took place. As the topography of the battle site has since been much altered, these drawings are of huge historic significance. The album has an added resonance in being in Bloomsbury as the collection is so rich – as was made clear in the wonderful 2015 exhibition, Bonaparte and the British

All the drawings in the album are accessible on Collection online. The album is also available by appointment to view in our study room and we would be delighted to show it to Friends when we reopen.'

– Hugo Chapman, Keeper of Prints and Drawings

More ways your money helps

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