The tweet of racism and dumbing down.
The British Museum has apologised for a “racist” and “dumbed down” tweet involving Asian names.
As reported by the BBC, Jane Portal from the London institution’s Asia department had said “sometimes Asian names can be confusing” on exhibition labels.
“We have to be careful about using too many,” she continued.
Portal had began working for the museum in 1987 as its curator of Chinese and Korean collections. In 2014 she became Keeper of Asia.
As part of the museum’s #AskACurator initiative, Portal responded to a question by saying, “we aim to be understandable by 16 year olds” adding that the length of the wording on labels could be limiting.
“Dynasties & gods have different names in various Asian languages,” she wrote. “We want to focus on the stories.”
Twitter user Dave Cochrane described Portal’s comments as “a gigantic own goal”.
“Don’t blame the 16 year olds!” wrote Amanda Lillywhite. Another Twitter user, Jillian, wrote “Confusing to whom?”
MrChaz asked Portal to “be a bit less racist”.
However, Portal had some supporters on Twitter, saying she took what “seems a perfectly sensible approach”.
Nonetheless, the British Museum released a statement apologising for “any offence caused”, adding that Portal “was answering a very specific question about how we make the information on object labels accessible to a wider range of people”.
Apologies, we would just like to add some further clarification here: pic.twitter.com/t9xnJ8rJ3S
— British Museum (@britishmuseum) September 13, 2017
Frankly, if your struggling with being clear on Twitter, then museum labels are probably not your thing.
— Andrew (@brixtandrew) September 13, 2017
"Jane, Keeper of Asia". Like "Victoria, Empress of India". Maybe worth rewording your job titles.
— danabouttown (@DanielSellers) September 13, 2017
This is a gigantic own goal. I strongly suggest you revise your approach here.
— Dave Cochrane (@onetwtuser) September 13, 2017
Longer labels? Technology such as touch screens, audio recordings? So many ways round this. Don't blame the 16 year olds!
— Amanda Lillywhite (@AJLillywhite) September 13, 2017