The Economist asks: are there ghosts in the British Museum?

Tourists at the British Museum in London (Getty Images /)

The building that serves British museum It was built in 1820 and has historically been the most important tourist attraction in the United Kingdomeven more than the Tate Modern and the National Galleryaccording to a review in the middle The Economist.

But what worries museum workers the most is the question asked by the British media itself: “Are there ghosts in the British Museum?”

The concern arises from different “anomalies” that occur inside the building such as inexplicable noises, spectral sightings, sudden drops in temperature, among other things.

“By the time the night shift starts, most of the lights in the museum have gone out. Patrolling the length and breadth of the 14-acre complex until the early hours of the morning, security personnel carry out many of their duties to the torchlight. Scanning facilities for anomalies (water leaks, gas smellan employee trapped in a remote corridor), shoot their beams into dark corners, the shadows melt to reveal a roman bust looking like a war or a aztec mask with bright eyes and teeth. They can even take on a real human being, like the body of an ancient Egyptian, died 5,500 years ago, huddled inside a reconstruction of his sand tomb”, describes the The Economist.

Elgin Marbles (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)
Elgin Marbles (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez) (Dylan Martinez/)

Due to the age of the building and the renovations to which it has been subjected, it is normal to hear creaksthe air conditioner humming, doors rattling, sudden breezes whistling around corners and elevator shafts.

However, what does not seem normal are the noises of “scrapings Y moans of drowning during opening hours”, which, “can get disconcertingly loud at night”.

The workers claim to be used to this type of situation. However, they assure there are certain unexpected moments that continue to shake even the most veteran.

“Sometimes it’s the doors. To complete a full circuit of the museum, it is necessary to open and close more than 3,000 doors. Some of these, particularly those that seal the main galleriesthey are cumbersome to close, but when they are pressed, they will not open again without effort, ”he says The Economist.

A child in the British Museum shop (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)
A child in the British Museum shop (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu) (TYRONE SIU/)

I entered the gallery sutton hoo, that houses treasures of a anglo saxon shipincluding a fierce-looking helmet that he is believed to have worn Raedwald, king of east angles, in the seventh century. On one occasion, a guard bolted the double doors and proceeded to the next room, only to be informed by a CCTV operator that the doors were open again. The images in the gallery video showed them moving spontaneously”, describes the British medium.

Another of the phenomena that is often repeated in an inexplicable way is the sudden drops in temperature.

“Sometimes it’s a sudden drop in temperature, like the eerie patches of cold air that linger next to the human-headed winged bull of Nimrud at the entrance of the assyrian galleries”.

One of the most curious stories that the newspaper tells is when “one night a security guard passed by the african basement galleries and paused for a moment before the figure of a two headed dog The guard believed that the congolese fetish of wood of the nineteenth century, bristling with crude iron nails, it possessed some mysterious power. On this particular night she felt an irresistible compulsion to point her finger at him. As she did so, the fire alarms in the gallery shots were fired. A few days later the guard returned to the gallery with his brother, who also pointed out the two-headed dog. The alarms sounded again.

Bill The Economistthat all these narrations were told to Noah Angell, an artist from the United States who has been investigating the strange phenomena at the British Museum since 2016.

The artist was interested in studying these events when he heard one of the stories for the first time in a London pub.

Warriors, seductresses, mother goddesses and other feminine spiritual creatures from around the world are the subject of an exhibition at the British Museum in London (AFP)
Warriors, seductresses, mother goddesses and other spiritual female creatures from around the world are the subject of an exhibition at the British Museum in London (AFP) (LINDA ABI ASSI /)

Angell was celebrating the birthday of a friend who worked at the museum, along with other former colleagues of hers, when her former colleagues began exchanging anecdotes. creepy what was happening at work.

Angell, 39 years old and a native of North Carolinaoften tends to be inspired by popular stories to develop their artistic projects.

Hearing these accounts, it was inevitable to see an opportunity to “get under the skin” of one of the UK’s largest institutions.

“I thought there would be a half dozen stories that everyone knows, and they go around the museum, and little variations and mutations are created,” Angell told The Economist.

He thought documenting all the stories would be easy. Yet four years later, the stories keep coming. “More than 50 visitors and staff members have spoken to him so far, and there are no signs that the supply is running low,” says the renowned British newspaper.

The passion of the US for what happens inside the museum, which has led him to offer tours by the places where these have been developed unexplained phenomena. Although he does not have the staging that often characterizes tour guides, Angell begins his tour by warning that anyone who makes fun of the spirits from the museum you risk getting hurt.

“At the first stop, at the Clocks and Watches gallerycount how a dutch couple took a picture of mechanical galleona gilt copper and iron ship model from the Germany from the 16th century, only to find, reflected in the glass case, the apparition of a dwarf with locks of hair missing and smiling back at them. A woman at the information desk who answered the couple’s puzzled inquiry ended up directing them to the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain. She pointed out that the ghost was dressed in a 16th century costume”, describes The Economist.

Thanks to these types of situations, Angell has stated that one of his goals for the project is to “give a voice to gallery assistants, cleaners and other overlooked personnel, who have accumulated an intimate knowledge of the collection through years of observation and proximity”.

Another of the most relevant stories and chilling reported by the British media is when “Around 3 in the morning, an alarm went off in a disabled toilet and a couple of guards rushed over to check what was going on. Nothing seemed wrong until a guard received a call from a security camera operator, who said that large white light balls they floated over a stairway in the Great Court and chased each other through the air. “We can’t see anything,” replied the security guard. “They are all around you,” the cctv operator replied.

They further added that “the guard who was among the balls of light wondered if they might be connected to one of the exhibits: a white wrought iron gate from the concentration camp of buchenwald which had the motto ‘Jedem das Seine’ (To each what he deserves). ‘You get items that contain energy,’” the guard said.

“Nothing in that exhibit was something that would have caused something like that… It really doesn’t surprise me that someone attached to that object would come with it. You couldn’t blame them, to be honest. I am happy to have them here,” he added.

The lights appeared in the period when an exhibition called “Germany: Memoirs of a Nation”, which took place between October 2014 and January 2015, at the same time every night until the show ended. “When Germany left,” the security guard said, “they left.”

Most of the people I’ve collected these stories from… don’t identify as believers in ghosts.”, says Angell, who also points out: “For the most part, these visitor services and security people are working-class types and they don’t make a fuss unless something really serious is going on… But from what they all seem agree, as the museum worker type of people believe, is that objects contain energy. This is a formula everyone is comfortable with.”

There are around of 8 million Of objects in the British Museum, many of them sacred objects from all over the planet, so the place must be one of the most haunted institutions on the planet. The museum opened in 1759 and ghost stories are nothing new: 100 years ago the Egyptian department received dozens of letters asking for the return of artifacts believed to be cursed.

Angell would like to be able to take a closer look at everything, but having access at unusual times is difficult. “For now, millions of objects remain in the dark, except for an occasional glance from a departmental assistant or the late-night attentions of security guards, who turn on the lights for a brief moment to make sure nothing is out of place, before to close the door. and continuing its rounds”, concluded The Economist.

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