The British Museum, one of the most visited museums in the United Kingdom, decided to remove the statue of its founder from a pedestal and replace it with other pieces, revealing the links to slavery.
The British Museum, one of the most visited museums in London, removed the bust of its founder from the pedestal where it was found and replaced it with other pieces and protected by safety glass. The museum itself, as CNN says, communicated this Tuesday that it decided to remove the bust of Hans Sloane from the privileged position where he was until now due to his slave-like past, which is now duly explained next to the piece.
The museum's director, Hartwing Fischer, in a statement quoted by AFP and CNN, justified the act, saying that “ the commitment to the truth is crucial when it comes to [o museu enfrentar a sua] history itself “. For Fischer, telling the truth about this side of Sloane, who was in favor of “slavery” and the “slave trade” allows “to highlight the complexity and ambiguity of this period”. And, therefore, it must be remembered that the museum's founder “was a doctor, a collector, an academic, a philanthropist”, but also “a slave owner.”
The initiative comes in the wake of the movement Black Lives Matter – which gained dimension after the death of George Floyd – and who has questioned the colonial symbols that still exist around the world. This pressure from activism led the UK to reflect on its colonial past and the symbols it preserves on the streets and in museums.
Although there was no bottom wave specifically against the bust of Hans Sloane in London, Bristol, as CNN recalls, a group of protesters knocked over and threw the statue of Edward Colston, a former slave trader, into the river. After that, the pressure grew for other symbols that paid tribute to slaves to be removed from public places.
Despite removing the bust from a more noble site of the museum, the director of the British Museum says the institution continues to recognize “Sloane's vision of giving universal and free public access to the museum's collection and public benefit generated through the British Museum ”. At the same time, said the director of the institution, the British Museum will continue to explore its history and is willing to do so “and m collaboration with people from all over the world to rewrite our shared, complicated and, at times, very painful history as equals “.
Sloane was born in Ireland on 467 and died on 1753. He was a doctor by profession, but, benefiting from his wife's fortune – in turn, the widow of a sugar plantation owner in Jamaica – he acquired a natural history collection that would form the basis of the British Museum. The Museum also admits replacing other pieces for the same reasons.