National Geographic UK – March 2023
English | 134 pages | pdf | 52.67 MB

FOR MANY OF US, museums have played major roles in our lives. When I was a kid, our family visits to places such as the Milwaukee Public Museum and Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History were my favorite outings. I’ve been fortunate to visit some of the world’s great museums on my travels and to live near institutions with rich collections (my preferred way to end a workweek in New York was a Friday evening stop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art).
There’s something about seeing art and artifacts with our own eyes that helps us understand history and culture in a palpable way. And of course great curators can draw connections among objects that let us perceive the world in a whole new light.
Many museums, however, have items that were acquired using methods now considered illegal or unethical: looted after battles, taken from Indigenous peoples, obtained under threat of force.
This month’s magazine cover story, “Troubled Treasures,” examines the debate about who should possess such objects and looks at the growing pressure for at least some to be repatriated to the people and places from which they came.
The question isn’t a new one: Greece has sought the return of the so-called Elgin Marbles from the British Museum for almost 200 years. What’s changing is the answer, as many museums and governments adjust their approach to holdings. In the process they’re redefining who “owns” culture, as well as the role of the museum. It’s a thought-provoking topic, and one where past wrongs may be addressed for the good of all.
I hope you enjoy the issue.

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