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BM search for new director underway

Rebecca Atkinson, British Museum starts hunt for new director, Museums Association, 16 January 2024

Mark Jones’s replacement will lead organisation following ‘tough year’

The British Museum masterplan includes a study room as this early concept visual shows John McAslan + Partners.

The British Museum has launched a recruitment campaign to find a new director to lead it “through a period of historic rejuvenation” following a series of challenges, including thefts from its collections and a controversial £50m BP sponsorship deal.

The London-based role, which is being advertised through Saxton Bampfylde, has a salary of £215,841, annual holiday allowance of 25 days and a Civil Service alpha pension scheme, with the standard employer contribution rate (currently 30.3%). Applications close on 26 January.

“The British Museum has had a tough year,” chair of the British Museum George Osborne says in the recruitment pack. We have been under intense scrutiny following the discovery of thefts from our collection, and we are also at the centre of global conversations about the validity of so called universal museums.

“But as we turn into 2024 the museum is also feeling remarkably strong and ready for change […] We are looking for someone who has a vision for the future of the British Museum and its purpose as a national and a global museum in the 21st century.”

Former Victoria & Albert Museum chief executive Mark Jones is currently acting as interim director until a permanent replacement is found. Since he stepped into the role, however, the museum has continued to attract negative media attention.

In November, talks on resolving the Parthenon sculptures dispute hit a significant setback following a diplomatic row between Rishi Sunak and Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotaki.

Senior figures in the Conservative Party also reportedly indicated that they would seek to block Osborne’s proposed loan deal with Greece, which would see the sculptures return to Athens in exchange for loans of other Greek treasures.

And in December, climate campaigners expressed outrage over a new £50m deal with the energy giant BP to help deliver the British Museum’s masterplan.

The first phase of the British Museum’s masterplan will be marked later this year, with the opening of a new British Museum Archaeological Research facility in June.

BM_ARC will house items ranging from nails from the Sutton Hoo ship burial to rare Peruvian fabrics and ancient fingerprints preserved on 5,000-year-old antler picks.

“The board of trustees go into this recruitment campaign with an open mind,” Osborne says in the recruitment pack. “We are agnostic about the type of candidate we are looking for, whether that is someone from within or outside the museums sector.

“I would encourage anyone who thinks they have the knowledge, skills, energy, and temperament to run one of the world’s greatest museums to apply. Show us how you can seize the opportunities available to the museum and how you can help address the challenges it is facing.”

See also: British Museum Director appointment