I expect this article from Neil MacGregor, head of the British Museum, in the Guardian today will invite some interesting comments:
Of particular interest to me was the idea that the museum is "about the world as seen from Britain rather than a history focused on these islands." But who is doing the 'seeing'? Blatantly it is the 'museum' and it is helpful to therefore to de-construct their notions of 'Britain.' I have not looked at the British Museum in detail but one of the chief virtues of being British has always been supposedly having a sense of 'fair play' and justice. To date the attitude of the British Museum to cultural relics which it holds onto despite repeated calls for their repatriation is not one which many people would call fair.
I also think the following is interesting: "The museum does not always tell the truths people want to hear. It was set up to challenge the simple labels with which people addressed the world. The ideal of tolerant inquiry it embodied has outlived the 20th century's disastrous fantasy of the nation as a closed cultural community." Although I am not too sure that the museum has always been a force for good in terms of challenging labels, I agree with the emphasis in the article, that we need to look beyond national identity as closed, that it is dynamic, changing and open to influences from beyond the land borders.
Still I cannot think that the British Museum is as revolutionary as they like to make out. Even though they exhibited the controversial Warren Cup for instance it was hidden to one side of the entrance with massive signs to deter you from entering if you would be offended. So different to a museum in Germany I visited where they had Peruvian cups with quite graphic displays of a sexual nature on open display in the gallery.
The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.