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Articles on Museums

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Shield, collected by Admiral John Elphinstone Erskine, c.1851. National Museums Scotland. Photo: National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh.

We identified 39,000 Indigenous Australian objects in UK museums. Repatriation is one option, but takes time to get right

Stone tools, clubs, boomerangs, decorative shellwork: a survey of 45 museums in the UK has found a vast number of Indigenous Australian objects. Not all were stolen; some were gifted or traded.
The Tailban destroyed this Buddha statue dating to the 6th century AD in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, in March 2001. The photo on the left was taken in 1977. AP Photo/Etsuro Kondo, (left photo) and Osamu Semba, both Asahi

The Taliban’s rule threatens what’s left of Afghanistan’s dazzlingly diverse cultural history

From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban outlawed almost all forms of art while looting and destroying museums. With their resurgence, Australia must strengthen measures to stop trafficking of antiquities.
Holy cards are highly collectible but also very, very numerous. Ryan O'Grady, The Marian Library, University of Dayton

What can you do with unwanted holy cards and Grandma’s religious statues? Well, that depends

The mass production of religious items such as rosaries and holy cards poses a problem for the curators of religious artifacts at libraries and museums. How do you dispose of unwanted donations?
Museums across the U.S., including at Harvard University, collected human remains, which were often displayed to the public. Smith Collection/Gado/Archive Photos via Getty Images

US museums hold the remains of thousands of Black people

Proposed legislation would identify and protect African American cemeteries. But it wouldn’t cover the remains of thousands of Black people in museum collections.
In our current context of rapidly improving technology, archives and museums must constantly make tough decisions about what to keep, what to refuse or even remove. (Shutterstock)

From erasure to recategorizing: What we should do with Dr. Seuss books

Media coverage of the recent Dr. Seuss controversy are rooted in both a lack of awareness of the challenges and realities of maintaining collections and a false understanding of history.
Behind the scenes, natural history museums store biological samples from the field. Ryan Stephens

Museum specimens could help fight the next pandemic – why preserving collections is crucial to future scientific discoveries

Specimen preservation means researchers don’t need to reinvent the wheel each time they ask a new question, making it critical for the advancement of science. But many specimens are discarded or lost.

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