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British Museum in racism row after saying Asian names are ‘confusing’

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The British Museum has been accused of racism over a tweet during an #AskACurator session on Twitter.

“Sometimes Asian names can be confusing, so we have to be careful about using too many,” said Jane Portal of the museum’s Asia Department.

Portal’s tweet was a response to a question asking how the museum designs labels and information that are ‘accessible to a wider range of people’.

This response provoked outcry on Twitter, with many users accusing the museum of racism and whitewashing.

Some people offered suggestions such as longer labels, or more reliance on technology. 

Many users criticised the museum for taking a different approach to European names than to Asian ones.

The museum later issued a clarification saying: “We would like to apologise for any offence caused. Jane was answering a very specific question about how we make the information on object labels accessible to a wider range of people... We are not always able to reflect the complexity of different names for e.g. periods, rulers, gods in different languages and cultures on labels."

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