If you’ve ever been inside of a western museum, you might have noticed a couple of things:
First, a majority of these museums are dedicated to European art. They might contain a small proportion of the entire museum dedicated to non-western craft. Take the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for example, and check out their map here. On their major floors, European and American art span a massive area. But as one of the world’s largest fine arts museums, I’d love to see a more inclusive approach to art history.
Second, if they do contain items from other cultures, a lot of the time they are stolen artifacts. The British Museum is an excellent example of this.
The British Museum has effectively maintained the largest collection of stolen goods out of any museum worldwide. During their wide bout of colonization, the British plundered countless works of art. They’re still showing them today, and it’s about time to repatriate.
In the United States, we seem to have a bit of trouble recognizing incredible work from non-western cultures. We so easily idolize the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh. But why do we have to travel far and wide to appreciate indigenous works by groups of people who lived on our land way before it was the United States?
Moreover, shouldn’t we be encouraging tourism and growth to the actual origins of the art we want to see? Should museums give their plundered items back and start over? Let us know.
Thumbnail by Nicole Baster via Unsplash.