The crisis-hit British Museum has a new leader

The British Museum on Thursday named Nicholas Cullinan, an art historian who currently heads the National Portrait Gallery in London, as its new director, ending a volatile period in which the august institution was without a permanent leader.

It will immediately face a series of challenges, including the fallout from an embarrassing scandal in which the museum says a former curator stole more than 1,800 objects from its warehouses, then sold many of the artifacts on eBay.

Cullinan is also expected to conduct a major fundraising campaign to finance a major renovation. And he will have to deal with growing calls for the return of disputed 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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