Inclusiveness in Museums

This week’s readings pointed out a sad reality to me– that inclusiveness in museums requires a directive, ┬áthat diversity is somehow frightening, and that those who have been forced to flee their homes in other places feel shut out from the few places that contain pieces of their heritage. It was not something I’ve ever had to consider, since the vast majority (7/8) of my own heritage comes from European immigrants, and I’m not arrogant enough to claim much knowledge of the Cherokee/Creek cultures that make up the rest of it. It just seems that something so common sense as “These people make up part of the population, therefore their stories should be told” shouldn’t have to be a mandate. I understand that it is this way, and why it is this way, but I’m still sad that it ever came to that.

It also bothers me that people would attend the Immigration Museum looking for a fight. The museum exists to celebrate the contributions that immigrants make, all of which were vital in the construction and achievement of America and its famous Dream. Looking to pick a fight with curators surrounded by the evidence of immigrant excellence is defeatist at best. It’s a shame that these people don’t take a hard look at their own logic before blindly acting on misdirected rage.

I do think it is important that the conversation about artifacts brought from war-torn places is being re-evaluated. The article about immigrants from Syria to Germany put this many-faceted issue into better context. Is it unfortunate that these artifacts were taken from their country of origin? Yes. Is it important that these artifacts are protected from malicious destruction? Also yes. With organizations like ISIS targeting ancient sites and ephemera I can’t help but be grateful for those early archaeologists (tomb raiders?) and their light fingers. It is good that these museums are seeking volunteers from these regions to better contextualize their collections; I had not considered that such exhibitions would aid in the integration process. Hopefully more aspects of American society begin to better understand why representation matters so much to under-represented groups.

 

3 thoughts on “Inclusiveness in Museums”

  1. I completely agree with your sentiments on artifacts taken out of their origin countries. Its unfortunate, but in times of war and strife I am grateful that these objects are able to exist because of early conquest and archaeological ownership ideas. While, as I mentioned before, it is unfortunate that these artifacts end up in other countries, but I appreciate that they can offer variety to a collection that otherwise wouldn’t be seen. Personally, I think of my trip to the Louvre. For example, that massive museum contains a department on Egyptian antiquities. Paris is a lot easier to get to that Egypt. Now I realize that seeing the artifacts outside of their country might diminish context and power, but in these instances I think seeing the objects this way (in a safe environment) is better than not seeing them at all. Do you have any further thoughts?
    Sorry about my long tangent. The word-vomit just wouldn’t stop.

  2. Yay for tomb raiders! Sorta. The circumstances are, of course, heartbreaking, but down the road when historians want to study this day and age, I think they’re going to be incredibly grateful for the movement of certain pieces and artifacts out of the danger zone and into hands that can keep them safe.

  3. I agree with what you are saying. Being on the border of Syria in Iraq and running the check point put this into perspective for me. My unit worked fighting against black market groups who were selling ancient artifacts for weapons. I also know from first hand knowledge that the United States put a huge effort in keeping places like Babylon, Samarra, and the Imam Hussien mosque in Karbala. The golden dome mosque of Samarra got blown up by insurgents once US forces left which was a shame. So like you I agree that am happy they are safe in a museum.

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