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Two of Britain’s most important museums have admitted losing more than 1,000 historically and scientifically important objects, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The Imperial War Museum and the Natural History Museum have disclosed that important military items and dinosaur fossils have been lost or stolen.

The Imperial War Museum admitted in a Freedom of Information request that 560 objects had been recorded as being lost since 2018 while the Natural History Museum said that more than 540 items had either been mislaid, destroyed or stolen over the same period.

The disclosures come after the British Museum revealed that more than 2,000 treasures had been stolen from its vast collection.

Of the 560 items lost by the Imperial War Museum (IWM), just 69 items have been valued and these alone were worth £55,000. Most of these were historically important drawings for the Illustrated London News. 

The Natural History Museum (pictured in 2021) said that more than 540 items had either been mislaid, destroyed or stolen since 2018

While the Imperial War Museum (its Duxford branch, in Cambridgeshire, is pictured) has lost 560 objects

One expert who works for the BBC Antiques Roadshow, who asked not to be named, blamed the losses on ‘sloppy asset management’. 

When asked how a museum could lose so many items, he said: ‘Bad cataloguing, poor records of where objects were placed, poor loans procedures. They have many items but sloppy asset management would be the most likely reason.’

Retired colonel Patrick Mercer, a former MP, said the losses amounted to a ‘betrayal of trust’ of the British public who had donated items. 

The IWM revealed that the lost items included miniature replica weapons, along with photographs, books, paintings and original posters from the First and Second World Wars. 

Many of the posters contained propaganda messages with slogans such as ‘The Attack Begins In The Factory’, or ‘Telling A Friend May Mean Telling The Enemy’. 

Lost items also included many drawings, some produced by British POWs detained in camps run by Japanese soldiers in the Far East.

Retired colonel and former Tory MP Patrick Mercer has said the losses amounted to a ‘betrayal of trust’ of the British public who donated items

The Natural History Museum disclosed that prehistoric fossils, including parts of a dinosaur and a crocodilian tooth, had been stolen, while hundreds of samples including fishes, birds and microscope slides had either been lost while on loan or accidentally destroyed.

The IWM said: ‘We have clear systems to safeguard the 33.5 million items in our care. It is misleading to state that 559 objects have been lost over the past five years.

‘The ‘dates recorded as lost’ represent the date that loss records were last updated on our system, and bear little or no relation to the date of actual losses. The vast majority of these losses date from many years ago.’

The Natural History Museum said: ‘In the past decade we’ve had just 13 instances of lost or missing items from a collection of 80 million, limited to small things like teeth, fish and frozen animal tissue, and just one confirmed theft.’

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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