The British Museum has announced a new display which will feature some of the 2000 objects stolen from its collection.
The museum said the majority of the stolen items were classical gems and items of gold jewellery, and news of their theft has since “sparked a renewed public interest in these objects”.
Responding to the interest, the museum today reveals a new display that will explore the significance of classical gems.
Rediscovering gems’ will see objects displayed in a gem cabinet alongside other collector’s equipment, such as a magnifying glass, cast impressions and drawings.
Since reports of the thefts surfaced last year, the museum said hundreds of items have been returned. A dedicated team within the Museum is working with the Metropolitan Police Service and with an international group of experts in gems, collection history and art loss recovery, to locate and return the remaining missing items.
George Osborne, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “We promised we’d show the world the gems that were stolen and recovered – rather than hide them away. It’s another example of culture change underway at the British Museum, as we open up and take ownership of our own story.”
Tom Harrison, Keeper of the Department of Greece and Rome, added: ‘We are delighted to be able to put on this exhibition and showcase some of the stunning recovered gems which are now safely back in the Museum’s collection.
“It’s also an interesting opportunity to cast some light on an underappreciated and very beautiful art form. A huge thanks goes out to all those who have lent support and helped us in the recovery programme.’
Rediscovering gems will be on display for free in Room 3 from 15 February – 15 June 2024.
Image: L-R Glass cameo with bust of Cupid or Eros in three quarter view, in three layers brown on white on purple glass. Roman, 1st or 2nd c. AD; Intaglio with profile bust of Minerva or Athena in black glass with white band, Roman 1st c. BC 1st c. AD © The Trustees of the British Museum