Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Education and research

There's a great article by Tiffany Jenkins over at spiked, British museums: the Druids are at the gates, which points out that:
Such a seemingly eccentric controversy, sparked by some Druids, ancient skeletons and cultural institutions, is more significant than it is funny. This fight over old bones is a revealing snapshot of the state of museums and the problems they will continue to face in their role as places of research and education as a consequence of the trends that members of the sector have helped set in motion.
These trends have been set in motion by museums for two reasons:
the code of ethics of the Museum Association, the professional body for the sector, argues that museums should be a places that consult and involve communities, users and supporters. It states that institutions should: ‘Consult and involve groups from communities they serve and their representatives to promote a sense of shared ownership in the work of the museum.’ The code also argues that institutions should, ‘recognise that individuals or communities may have a stronger claim to certain items than the museum’.
Until they can make a clear defence of the importance of education and research, museums will remain buried in endless consultations about old bones.
Museums could also argue, as Pagans for Archaeology does, that they should be be preserved so that the memory of the ancestors can be perpetuated and rescued from oblivion, and the remains can be studied scientifically for the benefit of everyone.

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