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Eight million artefacts being examined by the British Museum over slavery links 


The British Museum has hired a curator to delve into the history of its eight million objects, many of which were obtained during the colonial era. 

Several of the items in the museum's collection are subject to claims, including the Elgin Marbles, which were taken from Greece; the Benin Bronzes; the Rosetta Stone and the four-tonne Hoa Hakananai'a statue from Easter Island.

A museum spokesman told The Art Newspaper it was likely that issues such as the 'role of the slave trade and empire' would be 'relevant' to Dr Macdonald's research. 

The museum's original collection of 71,000 artefacts were left to it by its founder Sir Hans Sloane, who had links to the slave trade.

It has not been revealed when the research will conclude or in what form the results will be published. 

Last year, the museum removed a bust of its founder from a pedestal and labelled him a 'slave owner'.

The effigy of Sir Hans Sloane was moved to be housed alongside artefacts that explain his legacy in the 'exploitative context of the British Empire', curators said.

Sloane, whose 71,000 artefacts became the starting point of the British Museum after he left them to the state in his will, funded his collecting through his wife's family's sugar plantation. 

The move was part of an overhaul of the museum's collections to acknowledge its links to slavery and colonialism that will eventually involve 'redisplaying the whole British Museum'.

Other artefacts, such as those taken by Captain James Cook on his voyages, will be labelled to show they were acquired through 'colonial conquest and military looting', the museum said.