What Are Museums for ?


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SW United States
This article raises many questions regarding the function of museums in post modern societies. It concerns the storage and keeping of native and indigenous body parts for the purpose of study and/or exhibition.

I know that many here believe that such things and practices are inherently abhorrent and should be abolished. And legal systems seem to be trending in this direction. But there is an educational aspect here as well as artistic and cultural anthropological considerations. How will people fully understand the world that they live upon and the history of its peoples if access to such materials is restricted geographically ?

Do you believe that all such artifacts should be returned to their countries of origin or their native and indigenous social institutions ? Do you believe that they are sacred objects which should be studied in order to better understand extinct cultures that have been thoroughly "Westernized"?

What do you think ?


I think if we were to return all items owned by others we'd all better pack our bags...and Europe and Africa are going to get pretty crowded pretty quick as the Americas are returned to the natives...

That is the issue I have with correcting past wrongs of hundreds of years ago... where does the line fall...

Now if it were me and I had to make the call right now. I'd say all body parts that weren't art in their native countries after death....aren't art now. ie if some culture commonly used bones or skin of their own deceased (not of slaves or captured enemies) as some sort of art then it may be museum display worthy....anthropological study aside....all other remains should be returned if requested.