Emergency roof repairs are being made to four galleries at the British Museum, according to a new report by the Art Newspaper.

The repairs to the roofs above galleries devoted to Greek, Cypriot, and Japanese artworks are being done in response to an “endless series of leaks” at the popular institution, with buckets used to catch drips and extra heaters being used to reduce humidity levels.

Last November, museum board chair George Osborne admitted in a speech that for decades, the building “has been patched up in a piecemeal way and by closing galleries when the rain comes in.”

Related Articles

A large basalt sculpture of a shirtless figure with a large face. The sculpture towers above people who stand below.

British Museum Accused of Silencing Critics After Calls to Return Easter Island Statue

Pro-Palestine Demonstrators Stage Sit-In at British Museum over BP Deal

Osborne has an ambitious plan to upgrade the British Museum’s entire building, starting with galleries on the ground floor, including the large room where the Parthenon Marbles are on display. However, progress for the plan has slowed due to the scandal last year over the 2,000 lost, stolen, and damaged items from the museum’s collection, which resulted in the resignation of director Hartwig Fischer.

While Mark Jones serves as interim director, there is currently a search for a new, permanent director who would also be tasked with leading the project.

Last year, the museum wrote in a planning application that urgent work was required to mitigate water leaks which threatened the physical institution’s integrity, putting its collection “at risk of significant damage.” Additionally, the museum said it wanted to address “public safety” concerns.

Humidity levels are another concern. According to the Art Newspaper, in December 2022, Assyrian reliefs at the museum were “threatened by serious condensation” after “unusual meteorological conditions led to moisture forming on the surface of the ninth-century BC sculptures.” In order to prevent any permanent damage, emergency measures were used to dry the sculptures out.

Moisture is also a concern for the British Museum’s central archive after historic records were moved in 2017.

A museum spokesperson pointed to the fact that the museum was founded 270 years ago, saying in a statement to the Art Newspaper, “We have been open about the fact it is in need of full-scale renovation.” The museum’s master plan, the spokesperson said, represents “one of the most significant cultural redevelopment projects undertaken anywhere in the world.”