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Remembering Ian Jenkins

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Phone: +44 (0)20 7323 8195

If you are able to contribute over £1,000, you will be invited to a special event at the Museum to celebrate Ian's legacy and to meet the Greek and Roman team, getting up close to some of the fascinating objects they are currently researching.

Raising money in remembrance of curator Ian Jenkins to support the Department of Greece and Rome and the projects and objects he dedicated his life's work to.  

Ian Jenkins, a curator in the British Museum's Greece and Rome department for over 40 years, died at the end of 2020 and the Museum community has felt his loss very deeply.

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 objects were made and what life was like for the people who created them. 

Ian always said that a Museum's role was not simply to look after a static collection, but to put it to use; first to enhance our knowledge of the ancient world and then share it with current and future generations. It is this creation of knowledge and sharing of expertise we want to facilitate through this new fund. As a Member, you are among the Museum's most committed friends. We would be so grateful to have your support in memory of Ian who made such an incredible contribution to the Museum, and to help sustain and promote the work he began.

– Peter Higgs, Acting Keeper of Greece and Rome 

Remembering Ian Jenkins

Ian Jenkins was simply the best colleague you could hope to find. He was erudite, humorous and inspiring. He positively fizzed with ideas and creative energy and was generous in sharing insights and help. Talking to Ian about any project, large or small, was always invigorating. He saw possibilities and ways to achieve them, giving obstacles or difficulties scant regard. His office at the British Museum was of course a place of serious intellectual endeavour – but laughter could often be heard there, as his sense of humour had a tendency to bubble through, however weighty the matters being discussed. Ian loved the British Museum. He was steeped in its history, he had a lively engagement with its present and he was always striving towards its best possible future. He liked to describe the Museum as 'a garden of delights', and he found in it his intellectual and spiritual home. The love-affair was requited. The British Museum loved Ian Jenkins, and the shockwaves of his loss rocked the entire institution. His legacy and his memory deserve to live on.

Lesley Fitton OBE, Honorary Research Fellow and former Keeper of the Department of Greece and Rome 

Remembering Ian Jenkins

A vivid memory I have of Ian is his giving an exhibition lecture on 'Defining beauty: the body in ancient Greek art'. After great applause at the end, there was not a murmur from the audience. It was clear from the astonished and delighted faces of his listeners that Ian's passionate delivery had demonstrated the magnitude of his deep knowledge and absolute love of all things Greek. His presentation was perfectly rounded. There was feverish anticipation for more. Over the years, British Museum Members fondly admired Ian as a pillar of the British Museum. In my view, he will always be legendary.

Karen Johnstone, Member since 2002 

Remembering Ian Jenkins

I will never forget that day five years ago when you casually sat at my table in the canteen and started an unexpected conversation on the Ottoman Empire while commenting on the 'wannabe' Turkish meal I had on my plate. That chat was the first of many we had, where we discussed European diplomacy in the Levant, digging through mountains of books. You would use your tremendous humour to enrich the conversation with funny stories and jokes. My only consolation is that I had the chance to tell you how grateful I was for the consideration you gave to my research after years of effort and struggle, and for the chance to be of some help. Here I am once again to pay my most profound respect. Everybody knows you were a scholar of great intellectual acumen, but you were also a very kind and forward-thinking man. That is why you are so deeply missed at the British Museum. May your legacy live on for years and years to come.

Giuseppe Cascavilla,  Commercial Hire Coordinator