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Are artefacts really better protected by the museums in developed countries?

Large museums in western countries, would like people to believe that they are better custodians of artefacts than the original owners of them – protecting them for future generations to see.

The reality though, is that this perceived status quo is not necessarily the case [1].

If you follow the link to the original article, there is an interesting info-graphic at the start of it, which helps to summaries the issues in the article.

SAFE [2]

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Museum collections no better off in developed countries, international survey says

According to 1490 respondents from 136 countries, a survey conducted between June and September by ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) reveals that museum collections the world over suffer from “major” or “drastic” lack of space, bad management, theft, pest infestation, etc. A note at the bottom of the report says: “As a little over 25% of the replies came from North America, these results were analyzed individually and compared to the rest of the world. There was found to be no significant difference in the numbers. This confirms that the results shown here represent the situation of the museums surveyed in all countries.” “Most importantly, we have confirmation that this is not a developed vs. developing country issue: all countries find themselves in the same situation.” Mr. Gaël de Guichen, Special Advisor to the Director General of ICCROM, concludes.

The survey, created in a three-year partnership between ICCROM and UNESCO for the “Preventive Conservation of Endangered Museum Collections in Developing Countries,” was developed by “RE-ORG”, an online tool to assist small museums in reorganizing their storage and documentation systems. RE-ORG also started a discussion group on Linkedin to give “RE-ORG users the opportunity to exchange about any issue related to museum storage or documentation.” ICCROM is reportedly seeking partnerships and funding to address the problems identified in the survey. We hope that museums everywhere would benefit from these commendable efforts.

Yet another survey, conducted by the American Association of Museums, indicates that “more than 70% of the nation’s museums “reported economic stress at their institutions.” In spite of “$192 billion spent each year on cultural tourism in the U.S….history-related museums are struggling financially.” A Wall Street Journal article reports.

Those who argue that museums in developed countries are better custodians of collections than their counterparts in developing countries are merely perpetuating a myth in order to deny the rights of those nations to their cultural patrimony. These findings show that the truth is not on their side.