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The support you provide to the British Museum Friends is vital.
We are currently raising money in remembrance of curator Ian Jenkins to support the Department of Greece and Rome and the projects and objects Ian dedicated his life's work to.
Ian worked on a large variety of important projects, such as his ground-breaking articles and books on the history of the collections and their display in the Museum, which was the subject of his PhD thesis, including the Parthenon sculptures, the Temple of Apollo at Bassai, the sculptures from the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos and the sanctuaries at ancient Knidos. He also had a particular passion for encouraging and inspiring new early career scholars to pursue these subjects and was always happy to offer his support.
Through the new fund, we hope to follow Ian's example and enable new talent to work with us and continue work on projects that Ian was enthusiastic about. This will involve conservation work to preserve the Museum's collection of Greek and Roman sculpture, and employing new technologies that will help us better understand how artefacts were made and what life was like for the people who created them.
Find out more about the appeal on our Remembering Ian Jenkins page.
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
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