The British Museum has been forced to apologise after being branded 'racist' and 'imperialist' because a curator said the use of Asian names on exhibition labels could be confusing.
During a live question and answer session on Twitter, Jane Portal, keeper of the Asian department at the museum, said: 'Curators write the labels based on their specialist knowledge and they are edited by our Interpretation department.
'We aim to be understandable by 16-year-olds. Sometimes Asian names can be confusing, so we have to be careful about using too many.'
Jane Portal (left), keeper of the Asian department at the British Museum, poses with Chinese archaeologist Janice Li at the British Museum exhibition on the Terracotta Army in 2007
Tonight, former equality tsar Trevor Phillips branded those behind the political correctness row 'silly and narcissistic' and accused them of time wasting.
Mr Philips, formerly head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: 'My point here applies to the British Museum as well.
'I genuinely cannot understand why they would feel the need to apologise to people who really, if they actually wanted to tackle racism, I could come up with 100 better targets than this in an hour.
'Anybody who wants to get themselves into a state about this cannot for one second be taken seriously as an anti–racist campaigner. They are just behaving like silly, narcissistic, teenagers.'
Dr Tony Sewell, an education campaigner said the windfall of criticism directed at the London-based museum was an overreaction, adding: 'If you're protesting on a political row… this is a bit dodgy'.
Dr Sewell, a leading black academic, said: 'To be honest there are a lot worse things going on in the world, than to make that an issue to tear the museum down, for people to get offended about.'
During a live question and answer session on Twitter, Jane Portal, keeper of the Asian department at the museum, said: 'Sometimes Asian names can be confusing'
He added: 'Rather than protest on dodgy political grounds, make a protest which has a specific education reasonable grounds and then the museum can take that to heart but those protests weren't about that- they were about being politically offended.'
Dr Sewell said it could consider having audio labels to help educate visitors but added that 'it shouldn't do that on the basis of a lobby group, conceding to that'.
The online spat erupted during a lengthy 'ask a curator' Q&A where staff responded to those interested in the institution's work.
The Asian comment was made in response to a tweet from a museum in Sydney, Australia, which read: 'How do you go about designing exhibition labels and information that are accessible to a wider