Art: Confessions of a Museum

In all its long and stodgy history, the British Museum had rarely put on such a smashing show. There was something for every taste—Bronze Age jewelry, Persian miniatures, African masks, Dresden porcelain, drawings by the top Renaissance masters. But it was not the art that brought the public streaming in. The objects were the museum's most painful mistakes: fakes that had cost the museum dear in pounds and embarrassment.

A year ago, appalled by the number of fraudulent Turner water colors that were cropping up in London, the museum's keeper of prints and...

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