December 17, 2012
While this story is not really that relevant to the subject in hand, it does appear that a museum is acting like a microcosm of the subject it is supposed to be educating people about.
On the one hand, you have Britain (in the days of the British Empire), regularly taking items from other countries that were under its control, on the basis that these items were taken on loan to be studied, yet when the original owners asked for them back, the return was rarely forthcoming & they discovered that the items were now held in some grand museum & could no longer legally be returned.
Contrast this with a museum set up to tell the story of the days of Britain’s empire (looking at it from a present day perspective), that borrowed various items on loan from individuals – yet when the original owners asked for the items back after the museum had closed, they discovered that their property had been lost or sold at auction.
History repeats itself, for as long as public institutions do not have proper procedures in place that give equal weighting to the acquisition & the deaccessioning of items in their collections.
Row erupts over British empire museum’s ‘lost’ artefacts
144 items loaned to British Empire and Commonwealth Museum believed to be missing, with some sold without owners’ consen
The Guardian, Monday 10 December 2012
Almost 150 artefacts lent to a museum set up to tell the story of Britain’s colonial past may be missing, it has emerged, with some of them having been sold without their owners’ permission.
Trustees of the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, which has now closed, are in talks with about six of the owners about compensation.
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