The destruction of a British museum

based upon Notes kept by Cassandra Thorne

“but every cloud has a silver lining, for the museum’s closure meant that…”

Absolutely terrible, they are all terrible, these essays. Cassandra’s handwriting on the margin of an attempt, presumably by one of her students, to analyse the decline of the museum.

Where do we trace back to? To the 90s, the 60s, the 30s? Historians have often begun with the war, but this was then revised back several times. The war was important, Cassandra had scribbled, because it meant much of the museum was empty.

An empty museum is just an empty building, and there are plenty of uses for such a large one still with its roof intact in central London. Perhaps a political note, a sense of urgency.

Such a strain on time means other things are forgotten, not just the location of treasured artefacts but their very existence. The smaller objects were given to members of the public for safekeeping.

I remember the sound of my voice, echoing around the rooms which had once held Greek sculptures. Some of them had been so badly damaged, there was a debate over whether they should ever be displayed. Two sentences although their connection seems a little perfunctory.

And then just the fragments, of which many have attempted to rearrange, to publish, yet…

discovery of fake Roman statues – put back into storage?

maybe explanation for falling museum visitors – just too many things to look at

loans never returned

what are museums for – we just see endless objects, pots, bits of things

most important exhibitions = those we don’t go to

abandoned by their owners, objects long for a future which will never happen

The destruction of a British museum consists of a short text fragment and three photographs, all of which are the work of Cassandra Thorne.

James Mansfield is an artist and writer with particular interest in the history and future of museums. He is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Reading.
Twitter: @Imag_Research