Museum world rallies behind curator investigated for tweets on how to damage bronze statues

Curator Madeline Odent's tweets attracted criticism for including an image of a Winston Churchill statue in London's Parliament Square that was defaced during Black Lives Matter protests last weekend Photo: PA/Alamy

UK arts professionals are voicing support for Madeline Odent, a curator at the Royston and District Museum and Art Gallery in Hertfordshire, who sparked controversy after discussing on social media substances that could be used to damage bronze statues. Odent posted a series of tweets to her personal account after Black Lives Matter demonstrators toppled a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol and historic statues worldwide come under scrutiny.

Odent wrote on Twitter: “From an art conservation perspective, its honestly fine to throw paint on memorials of genocidal racists! Paint is pretty easy to clean off. What would be an absolute shame is if people were to throw certain common household items that can cause irreversible bronze disease.”

The tweets, published in the Metro newspaper, continue: “Because like, if somebody were to idk throw [a corrosive substance] at a bust of a genocidal racist, nobody would probably notice the chemical reaction until it was too late to save the artefact.”

Another tweet by Odent included an image of the defaced Winston Churchill plinth in Parliament Square in London, which was graffitied last weekend with the words “[Churchill] was a racist.” (The statue has since been boarded up ahead of planned protests this weekend.) The post reads: “Stay tuned for our next edition where well be talking about marble memorials of racists.”

Royston town council says it is investigating the matter, adding that it does not endorse the comments or views expressed by Odent. Tony Butler, the executive director of Derby Museums, tweeted that “you [the council] should be proud of the work of your museums curator. She has carried out brilliant work to make your museum inclusive… clearly her comments were intended as a joke. Your disassociation just gives succour to racists and bigots.”

A relationship manager for Arts Council England who oversees the funding bodys portfolio of museums in the east of England, also backs Odent on Twitter on a personal account, saying: “On top of this just being amusingly written, the curator in question does excellent work. She has worked hard to improve engagement with the museum. We fully support her.”

Others have criticised Odents posts, Read More – Source