Under Osborne’s new leadership, the Museum must not become “awakened.”
Former Chancellor George Osborne has been asked to use his new role as chairman of the British Museum’s board of trustees to prevent the institution from being captured by “woke” ideology.
Activists also want guarantees that the Elgin Marbles would not be returned to Greece.
Sir John Hayes, head of the Conservative Common Sense Group, has written to Mr Osborne, expressing his hope that his appointment will ensure that the museum “does not cater to the woke agenda” that has plagued other great institutions.
“Those on the Left [often]demand that our institutions apologize for past ties to the Empire, which was, in many respects, a force for good,” he remarked. These and other left-wing misunderstandings, in their opinion, are sufficient to justify all types of cultural distortion and devastation.
“We hope that your position would guarantee that the museum forcefully opposes such a woke agenda in all of its forms.
“We would go even further and ask that you promote the museum as a patriotic enterprise that celebrates rather than apologizes for Britain’s glorious history,” Sir John said, adding that he was concerned about “suggestions famous artefacts such as the Elgin Marbles, or items from the Empire, might be given away.”
Between 1801 and 1805, Lord Elgin, the British envoy to the Ottoman Empire, removed the marbles from Athens, widely known as the Parthenon Sculptures.
Greece filed an official request for their return in 1983.
Sir Richard Lambert, the museum’s current chairman, indicated this year that the trustees had “no intention of removing controversial artworks from public display,” but would “attempt to contextualize them in a way that allows the public to learn about them in their completeness, whatever difficult this may be.”
According to the museum’s website, “empire and colonial exploitation of people and resources have defined its history and collection.” Objects were frequently “acquired first by people, organizations, or enterprises, passing through multiple owners before getting to the Museum,” according to the statement.
The Benin Bronzes, from the West African Kingdom of Benin, are among the most debated objects.
On September 1, Mr. Osborne will join the museum’s board of directors.