Trying to redefine museums: a disease of our times

Today in The Australian

Last Saturday, at a packed conference in Kyoto of the International Council of Museums, delegates voted overwhelmingly against an ill-conceived proposed change to the internationally accepted definition of the nature and functions of a museum.

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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16 Responses to Trying to redefine museums: a disease of our times

  1. stackja

    Not another Kyoto agreement?

  2. Zyconoclast

    Haven’t read the link.
    My guess: stop wh1te [email protected]

  3. Bruce of Newcastle

    Eventually museums will have nothing in them.

    Looted Shiva statue sent home to India (Oz today, paywalled)

    The 75cm bronze Shiva Nataraja idol was returned to India on Wednesday after an AGSA curat­or identified it as stolen, and following­ a request for its repat­riation by the Indian high ­commission.

    Soon every artifact will be returned to its origin because sensibility. Nothing can be in a museum because it was empty when it was first built. Thus it must stay empty, as putting anything at all in it would be a colonialist crime.

  4. cuckoo

    Short version: some nordic nut came up with a version in which museums are supposed to be all about social justice indoctrination, climate change and open borders. Because they’re not enough like that already.

  5. cuckoo

    I once met a Belgian art dealer/collector who told us about the pressure to repatriate works from the former Belgian colonies in Africa. Belgian museums accordingly returned them and shortly thereafter they starting appearing on the art market. Those townhouses in Knightsbridge aren’t going to pay for themselves, you know.

  6. Tel

    Give the goods back to their original owners after taking a detailed digital 3D scan. Keep the museum going by selling prints of the original.

    Speaking of prints … worth a visit if you are ever in Penriff Westie Land …

    https://www.printingmuseum.org.au/

    Teach the grandchildren about Western ingenuity and not one item in the whole museum was stolen. Plenty of parking if you get there early in the day.

  7. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    I like museums as old style museums. Musty fustian places in old Victorian mausoleums where the Italianate balustraded marble staircases with wide treads and low risers are lined on the walls with paintings of the long gone good and great and where in the grand display rooms a myriad of old treasures await your discovery lingering in odd corners of glass cases where the glass is so old it ripples. They are today hard to find, mostly in out of the way British towns in the north, or in third world countries with British heritage.

    I can put up with the glitzy new ones, rather like playful art galleries, but you have to dress for those.

  8. Fat Tony

    Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare
    ….where the glass is so old it ripples.

    Lizzie – that old glass ripples cos that’s how it was made.
    Look it up sometime – modern float glass is, well, modern.

  9. Pauly

    I’m working in a hotel in Kyoto. I was speaking to a guy who presented at that conference, and his presentation was about the challenges climate change would make to preserving artifacts. Speaking to him he clearly and plainly engineered his presentation purely so he would get the invite and his airfares and hotels paid for to have a holiday looking around Kyoto.

  10. Percy Popinjay

    Regarding museums, if I want to look at rubbish, I’ll go to a tip, oops, I mean refuse relocation facility.

  11. duncanm

    The full definition is required to understand the scope of deconstructionist nuttery involved:

    Museums are democratising, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the pasts and the futures. Acknowledging and addressing the conflicts and challenges of the present, they hold artefacts and specimens in trust for society, safeguard diverse memories for future generations and guarantee equal rights and equal access to heritage for all people.

    Museums are not for profit. They are participatory and transparent, and work in active partnership with and for diverse communities to collect, preserve, research, interpret, exhibit, and enhance understandings of the world, aiming to contribute to human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing.

  12. Dr Fred Lenin

    Thats a great idea ,give the articles back to the descendents of the original people ,and when they appear for sale on the open market ,buy them with taxpayers money and return them to the original owners descendents ! Perpetual motion funded by taxpayers ,like turnbbulls snowy scheme ,circulating the same water over and over .

  13. Dr Fred Lenin

    And I always thought museums were places that kept mangy old shit no sensible person would have in the house. Niw they are a branch of the communist fascist globalist propaganda machine like the media ,now who would have thought that would happen ?

  14. Colonel Crispin Berka

    The epistemic foundation of education used to be “the transmission of knowledge”.
    Then the Progressives got hold of the curriculum in the late 1980s.
    As a direct and intended result, the epistemic foundation of education today is more like “creating the society of the future” – by indoctrinating everybody into the Progressive values system while they are naive and impressionable.
    It is only a matter of time before they do the same thing to museums, because all the people taking over the influential positions in museums during the next 10 years were already educated by the Progressive system.

  15. Tel

    Then the Progressives got hold of the curriculum in the late 1980s.

    Don’t you mean the 1890s under Otto von Bismarck?

  16. John A

    Well said, Tel.

    Yes, and after that John Dewey at Columbia University in Noo Yok, trained a lot of what we now would call SJWs in the education field to be prosletysers of the new world order, and destroyers of the Wests Christian heritage.

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