May 24, 2005
Kenya is organising an exhibition of artefacts from Kenya & neighbouring countries. The British Museum is lending them a large number of items temporarily to display in the exhibition, which they seem to feel is a very positive move – in many ways it is, as it shows greater co-operation with other museums. On the other hand it raises again the question of why these countries should have to go pleading to the British Museum for the loan of objects whenever they want an exhibition in their own country. The British Museum thinks that this is the best way of doing things (well they would wouldn’t they) but it seems to me tat however much the British Museum co=operates in this way, the other institutions abroad are still at the mercy of the British Museum for the eventual decision for what artefacts they will have or not.
Neil MacGregor (director of the British Museum) hopes that by sharing artefacts, the disputes about ownership will be less acute. “What is the real question: ownership or use of objects?” he asks. The fact is though, that the British Museum, as the owner & user of the objects will always have the upper hand in these situations.
The situation is getting more positive in a lot of cases, but other points in the article just highlight the problems with the attitude of the British Museum.
British Museum blazes a trail to the exhibition rooms of Africa
By Frederick Studemann
Published: May 24 2005 03:00 | Last updated: May 24 2005 03:00
When Kiprop Lagat, a senior curator at the National Museum of Kenya, was seeking artefacts for an exhibition exploring the relationship between his country and its immediate neighbours, his search took him thousands of kilometres away from east Africa to central London.
There, in the ordered neoclassical confines of the British Museum, he spent a year searching through the 12,000 objects in its Africa collection.
Read the rest of this entry »