British Museum has announced plans to digitize its entire collection in order to increase security and public access, as well as ward off calls for the repatriation of items. The project will require 2.4 million records to upload or upgrade and is estimated to take five years to complete. The museum’s announcement on October 18 came after the news 2,000 items had been stolen from the institution by a former staff member, identified in news reports as former curator Peter Higgs. About 350 have been recovered so far, and last month the museum launched a public appeal for assistance. […]
On the same day the British Museum announced its digitization initiative, Jones and board chairman George Osborne gave oral evidence to the UK Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Their comments included an explanation of how the thefts occurred, policy changes made as a result, and how the museum will handle whistleblower complaints going forward. They also gave more details about the British Museum’s strategy for digitizing its collection, estimated at a cost of $12.1 million. “We are not asking the taxpayer or the Government for the money; we hope to raise it privately,” Osborne said.
The increased digital access to the collection would also be part of the museum’s response to requests for items to be returned or repatriated. “Part of our response can be: “They are available to you. Even if you cannot visit the museum, you are able to access them digitally.” That is already available — we have a pretty good website — but we can use this as a moment to make that a lot better and a lot more accessible,” Osborne said.
Originally Posted at https://slashdot.org/