MacGregor's parting gift

On the day Neil MacGregor leaves the British Museum of which he has been director for 13 years, his final acquisition for the museum has been revealed.


It is a cross made by a carpenter on the island of Lampedusa from the wreckage of a boat carrying 500 refugees from Eritrea and Somalia that sank off the island in 2013. Only 151 survived.

The carpenter, Francesco Tuccio, lives on the island and met some of the survivors in his local church. As a gesture of sympathy for their plight he collected the wreckage and made each of them a cross as a symbol of hope for the future. When the museum made inquiries about acquiring a cross, Mr Tuccio donated it to the collection.

"This simple yet moving object is a poignant gift to the collection" MacGregor said. "Mr Tuccio's generosity will allow all visitors to the museum to reflect on this significant moment in the history of Europe, a great migration which may change the way we understand our continent.

"In my time at the museum we have acquired many wonderful objects, from the grand to the humble, but all have sought to shine a light on the needs and hopes that all human beings share. All have enabled the museum to fulfill the purpose for which it was set up: to be a museum of the world and for the world, now and well into the future."

The Lampedusa Cross went on display today in Room 2 of the museum.

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