Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aug 2011 - 4) How much do we need in Museums?

Metal Detectorist Steve Taylor asks why, now we have metal detectorists taking most of the remains of the past from Britain's landscape into the "care" of their personal collections, we need museums at all: "How much do we need..." [in museums]:
How many more artefacts do museums around the world need before they are full to the brim. Most of these collections are kept in vaults or basements where they will never see the light of day, so to say they belong to everyone is a bit like going to ask the Queen to borrow the Crown jewels for the evening. The Ashmolian (sic) museum has many fine Bronze Age axe heads on show in glass display cases, but if you care to open the rows of draws beneath the display cases, you will see several hundred more examples. What is the point of holding these items if they are not in the main display cabinets, as the majority of people will never view them. Public money should be used to show what we already have , not to aimlessly buy what we already have many examples of. Those academics and Professors will always argue we need this information but in reality it is just to keep them employed, as many would find it hard working on a Tesco‘s till.
Could the PAS as part of their public outreach about portable antiquities they also inform members of the public about the significance and purpose of museum collections of archaeological artefacts, why there are "so many" items curated in them. Should museums collect antiquities at all, or should they all go to metal detectorists and those who collect them? There seems some confusion in the public mind about this, can the PAS as part of its archaeological outreach clarify these issues? Thanks.

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