LONDON — After being closed for 163 days by the coronavirus pandemic, the British Museum on Thursday became the last of Europe’s major museums to welcome back visitors.
As at other institutions these days, there were hand sanitizer stations and one-way routes, a limited number of visitors, and many masks. But the museum has made some more permanent changes, too.
Hartwig Fischer, the museum’s director, said in an interview that the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May, and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests around the world had “altered the awareness of everybody.” The events made him want to intensify the museum’s work addressing its links with slavery and colonialism, he said. ADVERTISEMENT Continue reading the main story The museum made two main changes for the reopening, Mr. Fischer said. The first was moving a bust of Hans Sloane — a physician and collector of curiosities whose holdings formed the basis of the museum when it was founded in 1753 — from a plinth in a prominent gallery to a display case. Now Sloane is no longer simply celebrated as a natural history collector, but labeled a “slave owner.” The vitrine contains other objects related to Britain’s involvement in the slave trade.