British Museum Will Make Digital Copies of Its Objects

    30 October 2023

    The British Museum, in London, recently announced plans to make digital copies of all the objects it keeps. The museum said in August that about 2,000 items had been stolen or were missing.

    The museum is one of the busiest in the world.

    It holds objects such as the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Marbles — known as the Elgin Marbles — and ancient stones and jewelry.

    People walk through the atrium of the British Museum in London, Britain, September 28, 2023. (REUTERS/Hollie Adams)
    People walk through the atrium of the British Museum in London, Britain, September 28, 2023. (REUTERS/Hollie Adams)

    The leader, or chair of the museum, is George Osborne. He recently told the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of Parliament that he believed a person who worked at the museum was responsible.

    Osborne called it "an inside job by someone...who the museum had put trust in." He said the person took items from the museum little by little.

    The museum's director at the time was German art historian Hartwig Fischer. Fischer left the job in August after serving since 2016. He said the blame for the thefts "must ultimately" rest with him. He added the museum did not react as it should have when concerns first came up that someone had been stealing.

    "There are lots of lessons to be learned," Osborne said.

    The museum head said about 350 of the 2,000 items have been found and are in the process of being returned.

    Stolen items included gold rings, earrings and other jewelry from the ancient Greek and Roman times.

    The director of the museum for the time being is Mark Jones. He said the museum is confident "that a theft of this kind can never happen again." Jones added that one way to improve the museum's security is to show more items to the public instead of, as he said, "simply by locking items away."

    The project to digitize about 8 million items will take five years.

    In September, the museum asked for help in finding the missing items. The organization launched a phone number for people to call if they had information.

    I'm Dan Friedell.

    Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report by Reuters.


    Words in This Story

    digital –adj. existing in electronic form on a computer

    item –n. an individual or separate thing

    theft –n. an act of stealing

    ultimately –adv. in the end

    lock –v. to secure something with a lock so it cannot be reached by people who are not permitted to get to it