British Museum faces Twitter backlash after curator calls Asian names 'confusing'

British Museum celebrates three generations of Japanese mangaIBTimes UK

The British Museum is under fire after one of his staff members admitted they don't showcase all of the Asian artists names because they are "confusing".

The Museum was holding a Q&A where Twitter users got to ask curators about behind the scenes at exhibitions. Jane Portal, Keeper of Asia, took part in the Q&A. And things went south when she was asked about exhibition labels.

The Sydney Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences' Twitter account asked Portal how she went about designing exhibition labels that provide information accessible to a wide audience.

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Portal tweeted that the labels were crafted thanks to the specialist knowledge of curators and experts and processed by the Museum Interpretation Department.

She added: "Sometimes Asian names tend to be confusing so we have to be careful about using too many."

It didn't go down well.

Many were quick to react to Portal's statement. Some pointed out that the museum could use bigger labels to do the names justice. Portal tweeted that the labels are usually too small to provide all the information needed: "We are limited by the length of labels."

The British Museum curator Jane Portal got into trouble on Twitter after she said Asian names were "confusing."Twiiter/@britishmuseum

She also specified that the labels are meant to be understandable to 16-year-olds, but many Twitter users thought it was a weak argument. Some claimed that touch screens and digital displays could easily solve the issue of short labels. "Don't blame the 16-year-olds!" wrote one.

Portal explained: "Dynasties & gods have different names in various Asian languages. We want to focus on the stories."

It prompted several Twitter users to ask where to draw the line in what languages are displayed on a label. One said: "All of them [should be showcased]. They're integral to human culture."

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The British museum quickly issued an apology. It read: "Label text for any object is necessarily limited and we try to tell the object's story as well as include essential information about what it is and where it's from."

The apology pointed out that the more complex aspects of an artwork were usually explored in audio guides, tours or lectures.

The apology issued by the British Museum. Twitter/@britishmuseum

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