The British Museum has been advised to document its entire collection, as part of a review instigated by the discovery of thefts from its collection.

The independent review, now completed and published by the museum, was led by Sir Nigel Boardman, Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi, and Deputy High Court Judge Ian Karet.

The museum said efforts to document its entire collection – first announced in October, have already begun, and it has a plan to complete the documentation and digitisation of the entire collection within the next five years.

Among the review’s recommendation on documentation are:

  • The Museum’s current risk register should be replaced with one that draws on best practice in peer institutions
  • Trustees should be proactive in setting their agenda and requiring the necessary information to be able to take decisions and to receive proper assurance about management of the Museum under the Museum’s Governance Principles and Procedures. They should ensure that management focus on the Museum’s short, medium and long-term objectives as set by the Trustees with appropriate Key Performance and Key Risk Indicators to measure success
  • The Board should create a Curatorial Committee in which Trustees and curatorial staff contribute to areas of importance such as the future exhibitions programme, the allocation of staff between departments, conservation programmes and progress on registration and digitisation of the Collection
  • Trustees and the Director should consider the size and composition of the Directorate with a view to establishing a group in line with best practice and peer institutions to ensure capacity, sufficient challenge and diversity of thought.

The museum claims over a third of the published recommendations are “already underway or completed under the leadership of Sir Mark Jones.”

George Osborne, Chair of Trustees, said the review shows the museum is “putting our own house in order, indeed we commissioned it because we were determined to learn the lessons of what went wrong.”

“Above all, we’re determined to emerge from this period a stronger, more open, and more confident Museum that is fit for the future. Thanks to the hard work of the Review team we’re now equipped to do just that.”

Jones, the museum’s Interim Director, called the recommendations “helpful”, adding: “[n]o-one can pretend this has been an easy period for the Museum, but I have the utmost admiration for the commitment of the staff to building a stronger future for the Museum we all care so deeply about.”

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