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18th January, 2008

Neil Macgregor to chair 'World collections programme', to share British cultural excellence with Africa and Asia

Friday 12:23
Neil Macgregor to chair 'World collections programme', to share British cultural excellence with Africa and Asia

Culture Secretary James Purnell today announced the World Collections Programme, a £3m initiative to be chaired by the internationally renowned Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor. The World Collections Programme will share the best of British cultural excellence and expertise with museums in Africa and Asia.

It will bring together collections in the UK, including those in the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Library, the Natural History Museum, the Tate and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in a unique initiative that could include staff exchanges, sharing expertise and conservation technology, and loaning works. The programme will build on the six collections' existing international collaborations.

Neil MacGregor, who personally negotiated the temporary loan of the Chinese terracotta warriors to the BM for their current blockbuster show, is the UK's leading authority on international cultural affairs. He also has a fine track record of establishing relationships with cultural institutions in countries including Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and China.

He will work with other organisations, in particular the British Council, BBC World Service, FCO, and other museums to ensure the widest possible audience for the work, and the highest possible standards of excellence in what is shared.

James Purnell said:

"We live in a shrinking world with more contact between cultures and countries than ever before. We need to learn how to live side by side, giving dignity to our differences and understanding our similarities. London's museums are one of the best places in the world to understand those different cultures. But we can deepen that understanding by creating connections with other museums around the world."

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