Dear British Museum,
When I first visited your establishment, I was about 16 and forced to do so by my school. It was a valuable experience. As I looked at artefacts from Africa, Asia and the Americas, I finally learnt what it meant to be British.
It was for Art class and since I am of Nigerian descent I focused on the weaponry of Africa. Your collection of disused daggers made me assess their potency. I mean it’s one thing to invade and rule a country, but to put their weapons on display epitomised what the British Museum really stands for. I found it even more interesting when Mr Glynn told me, Olawale, your African artwork just lacks a certain authenticity.
I was also interested to learn about the Elgin Marbles debate in school. If I’m not mistaken, the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire received controversial permission to remove sculptures from the Parthenon and take them to Britain. Now in the present day, the British Museum has held onto them and referred to them under the name of the man who took them. I’m sure the Greek economy will be alright.
Well having heard as much as I have, I am impressed at how you stand as an example to the world of what can be achieved if you just reach a little further. However, looking at this collection, I see something is missing. What would Mount Rushmore be without the faces of the Presidents? What would a deck of Pokemon cards be without Energy cards? So what would a collection of what Brits have taken from around the world be without a real live black person.
This isn’t a issue of racism, I’d never accuse you of that, simply because no one else has. All I’m simply saying is, your collection is incomplete. Here comes the reason for my letter. If only you would give me this opportunity I could be this guy.
It may offend some of my sensibilities as a proud African but everyone has to do what it takes to make it in this world and by this world I mean Britain – and by everyone I mean those who are not white.
Here’s the thing, if I could land this opportunity, I’d do a 10-minute open spot at your museum. If you like my ability to sit there and arouse the attention of the public, I’d gladly do 20 minutes but I would insist on getting paid which is a little inauthentic of history but the public don’t need to know that. Maybe then, when you feel I’m good enough you could send me to a museum in Edinburgh and I could do an hour. You could show me off as your latest and edgiest exhibition to all your trustees and benefactors. Then maybe I could do some TV work. Maybe I could hit other museums around the country taking one or two lesser-known live black exhibits to make sure people get their money’s worth.
I may be running away with myself here, but I see great things. Though I am hoping that if I can make friends with the Chairman of the Board and he gives me controversial permission, I can lay claim to some Gbaja-Biamila marbles, legally of course.
So what do you say? Will you give me a chance?
Ps. I completely understand that private photographers with a stand should seek your permission before taking pictures in the museum. It would be an absolute travesty if someone were to show the world, articles that did not belong to them, but under their own name.