The Universal Museum Struggles for Air

Posted on February 7, 2009


Tom Flynn has commented on British Museum director Neil MacGregor’s recent lecture on the encyclopedic museum. Tom’s comments are well worth reading, as always. My favorite passage:

Above all — and most pertinently, given James Cuno’s recent muscular pronouncements about a nascent nationalist strain in cultural politics — it was telling to hear MacGregor’s rehearsal of the profound and immoveable ‘Britishness’ of the British Museum. Clearly it’s all well and good for the British Museum to use its collections to tell the stories of other cultures, but when those same cultures request the return of their cultural objects in order to reclaim their autobiographical rights they are accused of a sordid and destructive ‘nationalism’. Is it any surprise this Universal Museum thing just won’t go away?

Read Busking on Benin: The Encyclopedic Museum runs aground.

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