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Has the British Museum scored an own goal with Mo Salah’s football boots?

20 May 2018

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

The British Museum holds one of the greatest collections in the world of ancient Egyptian artefacts, from a 5,000-year-old mummy to the Rosetta Stone. But perhaps the wonders of antiquity just aren’t enough to impress on their own merits – which may be why the BM has decided to, erm, put the boot into its Egyptian collection.

Last week, the museum announced that it had acquired a pair of football boots worn by the Egypt and Liverpool striker Mo Salah, lead scorer in the Premier League for the 2017–18 season. In the run up the Champions League final next weekend, the shoes are to be displayed next to footwear from ancient Egypt and just a toe poke away from a selection of gold pharaonic jewellery.

The acquisition is being presented as part of the museum’s campaign to tackle a new subject by collecting contemporary material from Egypt: ‘The boots tell a story of a modern Egyptian icon, performing in the UK, with a truly global impact’, says BM Ancient Egypt Keeper Neal Spencer. The Rake can’t help thinking that Adidas, which donated the boots, must be enjoying all the publicity.

Could it be that the BM has scored an own goal? Some art critics seem to think so…

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.