Mary Beard appointed British Museum trustee despite Number 10 rejection

Historian Mary Beard views 'The Rape of Europa', part of Titian's Poesie series of large scale Greek mythological paintings t
Historian Mary Beard views 'The Rape of Europa', part of Titian's Poesie series of large scale Greek mythological paintings that feature in the 'Titian: Love, Desire, Death' exhibition, at the National Gallery, London. The exhibition brings the series of six paintings together in their entirety for the first time since the late 16th century.

Professor Mary Beard has been appointed a British Museum trustee – despite originally being rejected by Number 10 because of her pro-European views.

The broadcaster and classicist, 65, was turned down last year at the end of Theresa May’s premiership.

Professor Beard has now been appointed directly by the museum’s board.

She said: “I am honoured to be able to serve the British Museum in this way. It was a visit to the British Museum that first inspired me to work on the ancient world.

“I have been a huge beneficiary of this and other museums in the country over the last 60 years, and I am delighted to be able to give something back.

“There are many ways in which these are challenging times for all museums, and I look forward to bringing my pennyworth to the table in facing those challenges.”

A Downing Street source told the PA news agency that “the current administration is delighted to see Mary Beard appointed and has no reservations over her appointment, which should have happened sooner”.

It was expected that the museum would still be able to appoint Prof Beard, as trustees are able to appoint some members independently.

Her term for the role, which is not paid and starts this month, lasts for an initial period of four years.

After news of the rejection surfaced, Sir John Tusa, a former trustee and former BBC World Service boss, previously told The Observer: “This is an absolute scandal. The trustees of the British Museum exist to protect its intellectual, academic and political independence…

“Will any Remainer now expect to be punished by the Government?”

Sir Richard Lambert, chairman of the British Museum Trustees, said: “Mary brings scholarship, energy and a remarkable public profile to the British Museum. We are very happy to have her on board.”

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