University of London, University of Bristol
The Parthenon Sculptures, The Greek Body, Greek Architecture and Its Sc, Cleaning and Controversy, Greek and Roman life
November 28, 2020 (aged 67)
18 February 1953 (age 67)
Mark Jones (museum director), Caroline Malone, Alan Millard
Dr ian jenkins monday 11th may 2015
Ian Dennis Jenkins OBE is a Senior Curator at the British Museum who is an expert on Ancient Greece and specializes in ancient Greek sculpture. Jenkins has published a number of books and over a hundred articles. He leads the British Museum's excavations at Cnidus and has been involved in the debate over the ownership of the Elgin Marbles.
Ian Jenkins studied at the University of Bristol where he read Ancient Greek with Archaeology and Ancient History. He joined the British Museum in 1978, receiving his PhD from the University of London in 1990.
Jenkins has responsibility for the ancient Greek collections at the British Museum. At the Museum he wrote his doctorate on the collection history and reception of the British Museum's Egyptian, Assyrian and Classical sculptures. His thesis was published by the British Museum in 1992 as Archaeologists and Aesthetes in the Sculpture Galleries of the British Museum 1800–1939.
Jenkins divides his current research interests between Greek architecture and sculpture and the history of the reception of Classical art and architecture in the modern era. His work on the history of collecting includes studies on the Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo and the archive of documents and drawings compiled by the 18th-century antiquary and collector, Charles Townley, which came into the museum's possession in the 1990s.
Jenkins has curated many of the permanent galleries at the British Museum including Greek and Roman Life (Room 69), Hellenistic World (Room 22), the Parthenon galleries (Room 18), and the display of the Bassae sculptures in the British Museum. He was a major participant in the team responsible for the Enlightenment Gallery (Room 1). He co-curated the special exhibition "Vases and Volcanoes" in 1996, on the life and collection of Sir William Hamilton and his circle.
In 1998, Jenkins worked on finding ways to make the Parthenon Frieze accessible to visually impaired people. He lectured about this and the new archaeological insights that the project had brought about when he was the Samuel Henry Kress lecturer in ancient art for the Archaeological Institute of America in the same year. He was simultaneously a visiting professor at Cornell University.
In 2008, Jenkins co-curated an exhibition about the ancient Olympic games for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The exhibition visited Shanghai and Hong Kong. This exhibition was to form the basis of the British Museum's current international touring exhibition, 'The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece'.
Jenkins leads the British Museum's excavations at Cnidus (Knidos) in Turkey, a site visited by various scholars in the 19th century. Published reports have appeared in Anatolian Archaeology, most recently in 2006.
Jenkins was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and a corresponding member of the German Archaeological Institute and Archaeological Institute of America.
Elgin Marbles debate
In 1999, Jenkins was asked to comment over a debate concerning the "damage" done to the Elgin Marbles. He was quoted as saying, "The British Museum is not infallible, it is not the Pope. Its history has been a series of good intentions marred by the occasional cock-up, and the 1930s cleaning was such a cock-up". Jenkins conceded that cleaning conducted in the 1930s by the Museum was a mistake (they used wire wool), but also claimed that the damage was being exaggerated for political reasons.