Last week Marabou posted about colonial language shaping the way people understand African history and culture at the British Museum. Last Friday, coordinated actions by Decolonize This Place at The Brooklyn Museum and at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) asked for accountability and repatriation of African objects. As people demand museums acknowledge and rectify historical transgressions, how are institutions responding? … In the News: Museums Respond to Requests for Object Repatriation
It’s time for Marabou’s analysis of the British Museum Part II in which they address the institution’s not-so-great aspects. In this post, Marabou focuses on transparency of ownership and acquisition processes, colonial language, and questionable display decisions.
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“Now we’re leaving the hall of stuff we stole from other cultures and entering the hall of stuff we paid too much for.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ A black, white, and grey cartoon depicts an adult guide leading 6 children through a museum’s galleries. The gallery on the left looks like it’s displaying objects from Native American and First Nations Northwest Coast cultures, 3 masks and a textile or mantle. On the right is a gallery of framed paintings. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #Repost @newyorkercartoons ・・・ A cartoon by @caitlin.cass, from 2018. #TNYcartoons ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🌈Shoutout to @ricebananas and @ytunaomitambien for knowing this cartoon is very Marabou ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #marabouatthemuseum #museums #museumeducation #museumstudies #museumtour #rethinkmuseums #reimaginemuseums #repatriation #uncomfortabletruths #newyorker #newyorkermagazine #newyorkercartoons
Marabou wonders, if a museum has objects that have been acquired due to violence, war, and/or illegal means, is it the museum’s responsibility to explain this acquisition history to its visitors?
Marabou wonders, can hierarchies of value be challenged or completely shattered if museums reconsider their methods of categorization? Why not tell the story of Africa, the entire continent, in one hall? Why not include all American objects in “The American Wing”?
How might we think differently about history when all the objects of a geographic location are together? When these objects share space, how might the narrative they create challenge the stories that are currently perpetuated?