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Apr 8, 2015 6:58 AM

British Museum director Neil MacGregor stepping down

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) British Museum director Neil MacGregor, who led the London institution as it became the country's top tourist draw, is stepping down.

The museum said Wednesday that MacGregor will leave in December after 13 years.

MacGregor, 68, said working at the museum "has been the greatest privilege of my professional life."

He said he would retire from full-time work but would take part-time posts, including advising Germany's minister of culture on Berlin's ambitious Humboldt Forum museum project.

He will also work with Mumbai's CSMVS Museum and create a series for BBC radio on faith and society.

The British Museum, whose vast collection includes large numbers of Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities, drew 6.7 million visitors in 2014-15, more than any other attraction in the country.

Since taking the helm in 2002, MacGregor has overseen acclaimed exhibitions on topics including Ice Age society, ancient Pompeii and the Vikings.

He has described the London institution, founded in 1759, as the world's museum, and has loaned artifacts to Russia, Iran and other countries.

But the institution's origins in imperial Britain are still tinged with controversy. Throughout his tenure MacGregor has resisted calls from Greece for the return of friezes taken from the Parthenon in Athens by Lord Elgin 200 years ago.


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