Former Chancellor George Osborne has been named the next president of the British Museum.
The former Tory MP will join the trustees effective September 1 of this year and succeed Sir Richard Lambert as chairman on October 4 after the board unanimously approved his appointment, the museum said.
Mr Osborne, who stepped down as editor of the Evening Standard newspaper at the end of March, also became a partner at investment bank Robey Warshaw in April and remains chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
All my life I have loved the British Museum. In my opinion, it is quite simply the largest museum in the world
He said: “I am absolutely delighted to join the team at the British Museum – and very honored to have had the opportunity to apply for this position, and to have been chosen by the Trustees to become their Chairman.
“All my life I have loved the British Museum. For me, it is quite simply the largest museum in the world. It is a place that brings together cultures and tells the story of our common humanity.
In 2016, Mr Osborne sparked controversy by joking that former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and then-shadow chancellor John McDonnell both ‘lost their marbles’ in reference to the controversial marbles of Elgin on display at the British Museum, which Greece has long requested to return to them. .
Baroness Minouche Shafik, vice-president of the British Museum, said Mr Osborne would work with the board of trustees to expand the institution’s audience as it embarked on a “great renewal program”.
The British Museum, Tate Modern, National Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) all saw an average drop in attendance of 78% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to a survey by The Art Newspaper.
Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, said the museum was undergoing the “biggest transformation project” in its history.
He added: “George Osborne knows the museum well and appreciates the trust the museum enjoys around the world.
“He understands the active role the British Museum is playing in turning the country around, creating opportunities for everyone to experience the collection like theirs – on location, through loans to their local museums and online.”
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