The number of artifacts that have disappeared from the British Museum is estimated at 2,000, Chairman of Trustees George Osborne said, admitting the collection did not have a complete catalog.
The U.K.’s former chancellor described the missing pieces as “small items of jewelry, gems, bits of gold that were not on public display.”
He told BBC Radio last week it was still not clear exactly how many items had gone astray from the museum that houses the Parthenon Marbles stolen from Greece by Lord Elgin in the 19th century.
“I will give you an estimate of around 2,000. But I have to say that’s a very provisional figure,” Osborne said. “We have started to recover some of the stolen items, which is a silver lining to a dark cloud.”
Museum Director Hartwig Fischer resigned on August 25th, admitting the institution did not act “as it should have” on warnings that items had gone missing.
The central London Museum said last week it had dismissed a staff member and alerted the police after artifacts were found to be “missing, stolen or damaged.”
Greece calls for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the museum
Greece has renewed calls for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the UK following the disappearance of artifacts.
The security questions raised by the missing objects “reinforces the permanent and just demand of our country for the definitive return,” Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni told the Greek newspaper To Vima recently, repeating her insistence for the Marbles to be returned home.
“The loss, theft, deterioration of objects from a museum’s collections is an extremely serious and particularly sad event,” Mendoni said.
“When this happens from within, beyond any moral and criminal responsibility, a major question arises regarding the credibility of the museum organization itself,” she added.
More than 100,000 Greek artifacts are stored in the British Museum
Apart from the Parthenon Marbles, another 100,000 Greek artifacts are stored underground in the vaults of the British Museum, the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (BCRPM) revealed recently.
The BCRPM says that using Freedom of Information provisions, it has been found that the British Museum holds 108,184 Greek artifacts of which only 6,493 are on display.
The discovery of this enormous cache of ancient Greek artifacts has prompted notable supporters to write to British Museum funders and sponsors, raising the repeated failure of the institution to engage in discussion about their reunification, BCRPM says.
“It’s shocking to think that over 100,000 Greek artifacts lie in British Museum vaults not even on display,” Janet Suzman, Chair, and Paul Cartledge, Vice-Chair of BCRPM, said in a press statement.