Irish-born slaveowner's bust taken down by British Museum due to pressure from Black Lives Matter

Irish-born slaveowner's bust taken down by British Museum due to pressure from Black Lives Matter

THE BUST of an Irish-born slaveowner has been moved by the British Museum in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hans Sloane, whose artefacts provided the basis for what became the British Museum, has had his bust taken down from its original pedestal.

It has now been "juxtaposed" with objects reflecting his links to the British Empire, according to a spokeswoman for the museum.

Sloane was born in 1660 in Co. Down who gained much of his wealth from enslaved labour on a Jamaican sugar plantation.

He was a physician, naturalist and collector, with a collection of 71,000 items which he bequeathed to the British nation.

He donated much of his possessions to what would eventually become British Museum and is known as what of the institution's founding fathers.

Sloane was honoured with numerous place names, including Sloane Square in London.

There is also Sir Hans Sloane Square in his birthplace of Killyleagh, Co. Down.

Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, said: "Dedication to truthfulness is crucial, when we face our own history.

"We have taken the bust of Hans Sloane from its pedestal and placed him in the limelight in a case in the centre of the Enlightenment Gallery, acknowledging his relationship to slavery and the slave trade.

"Sloane allows us to highlight the complexity and ambiguity of this period, he was a physician, collector, scholar, benefactor and slave owner.

"We will continue to explore our history and we will do this in collaboration with people from across the globe to rewrite our shared, complicated and, at times, very painful history as equals.

"We continue to acknowledge Sloane’s radical vision of universal free public access to a national museum collection and the public benefit that is generated through the British Museum."

The Black Lives Matter group have been very vocal with their criticism of statues and artefacts which could be considered a celebration of anyone with links to the slave trade.

Most notably, the statue of Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol and thrown into the harbour in protest of his links to slavery back in June.