We wish Neil MacGregor success in his future career.

NEIL MACGREGOR RETIREMENT

The announcement of Neil MacGregor’s impending retirement gives us a welcome opportunity to clarify a possible misconception. The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles has been in open dispute with the British Museum over the retention of their collection of these marbles for the whole of his tenure and for some 20 years before. At no time has it ever been personal to Neil MacGregor or any of his staff.

We acknowledge that the British Museum, with its vast and important collection, is preeminent among the great museums of the world, particularly so for its standards of curation, display, research and education. We question however the concept of the universal/world/encyclopaedic museum and its justification for the continued impairment of one the most magnificent examples of world art.

We acknowledge the importance of cultural diplomacy but question how it squares with the British Museum’s refusal to deal seriously with Greece over the reunification of its national icon. In recent months we have been further concerned at the British Museum’s evident new policy of impairing still further the integrity of the Parthenon marbles by using individual pieces to support the theme of an exhibition and even by sending them abroad on loan.

We shall continue to campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon marbles on cultural and ethical grounds, albeit perhaps this will not now happen on Neil MacGregor’s watch. In the meantime we are pleased to acknowledge the many tributes expressed about Neil MacGregor’ s qualities and achievements during his distinguished tenure as Director of the British Museum. We wish him all success in his future career.