Thursday 24 June 2021 9:42 am

Former chancellor George Osborne named British Museum chair

George Osborne has been named as the new chair of the British Museum, marking the latest high-profile role for the former chancellor.

Osborne will join the board in September and take up the role of chair from 4 October.

He takes over from former Financial Times editor and CBI director general Sir Richard Lambert, who has chaired the British Museum since 2014.

The appointment marks the latest job move for Osborne, who is a partner at investment bank Robey Warshaw and serves as chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

He previously had a stint as editor of the Evening Standard and was a senior advisor to Blackrock.

The job search was led by a committee of seven British Museum trustees, which was chaired by deputy chair Baroness Minouche Shafik, former deputy governor of the Bank of England.

“George Osborne has a long-standing commitment to culture, both personally and in his various public roles,” Shafik said in a statement.

“The trustees look forward to working with him to bring the Museum to ever larger audiences and to expand its contribution to public understanding of our collective history.”

Osborne’s appointment comes at a key time for the British Museum, which is one of the country’s iconic institutions at the heart of a row over the removal of controversial artefacts.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden sparked a backlash earlier this year when he intervened to tell museums and heritage organisations to follow a policy of “retaining and explaining” contested items rather than removing them.

The British Museum has also come under pressure from climate activists over its sponsorship links to oil giant BP.

Osborne said he was “absolutely thrilled” to be taking up the role. 

“All my life I have loved the British Museum,” he said. “To my mind, it is quite simply the greatest museum in the world. It’s a place that brings cultures together and tells the story of our common humanity.”