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Crisis-Hit British Museum Gets New Leader

The British Museum on Thursday named Nicholas Cullinan, an art historian who currently leads the National Portrait Gallery in London, as its new director, ending an unsettled period in which the august institution lacked a permanent leader.

He will immediately face a host of challenges, including the fallout from an embarrassing scandal in which the museum says a former curator stole over 1,800 items from its storerooms, then sold many of the artifacts on eBay.

Cullinan will also be expected to lead an extensive fund-raising drive to pay for a major refurbishment. And he will have to deal with increasing demands for the return of contested artifacts to their countries of origin, including the Parthenon Sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, and a collection of Benin Bronzes.

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