Like many others, I grew up with commercials on tv telling about a museum’s new exhibit every now and again. In middle school (again like many others I suspect), I became slightly obsessed with Egyptian history and about everything to do with Egypt. Research online showed me that there was Egyptian exhibits at museums like the Smithsonian or the British Museum. The unfortunate fact however is that I am at least $5,000 away from any type of decent sized museum that holds such wonders.
As I got older, I became more interested in my culture’s history. When I was 11, I attended a middle school in the same town as where my parent’s work place which just so happen to hold a tiny historical museum about the town which was super interesting since one of Hawaii’s most famous paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) Ikua Purdy, was from there. Unfortunately, the small museum closed down and my biggest regret is not begging my parents to take me and my sister beforehand.
Continuing down this timeline to when I was 14, (I swear I will eventually get to my point of this post) I remember my mum driving me to school and I remember a few “official” looking SUVs parked off-road by a bunch of kiawe trees. I say official with quotation marks because they had all had a logo on the front doors. I can’t actually remember what the logo was of but I do remember asking my mum if she knew what they were doing over there and she told me they were digging for Hawaiian artifacts.
Of course, I was confused. I didn’t think there was any where we were living. But that’s because I didn’t know the history of the area at the time- which is another injustice I might cover in a different blog post at some other time- and I wouldn’t really learn until a little bit later.
I asked if they were building a museum near us and she said that she didn’t think so. If anything, they would most likely take it back to the mainland.
Man, oh man my indignation at hearing that.
I didn’t think it was right for it to be taken back to the mainland. It wasn’t from there. It was from here. If people wanted to see it, they could come here and look at it. If we need a museum and a lab- or whatever they use when cleaning and maintain artifacts- it shouldn’t be that hard to find people to finance it since Hawaii was already a tourist destination. It would also provide jobs for people here.
Now, after that moment, it was like something clicked in my brain.
It was like, wait…this has been a thing for forever!
Then started the slow burn of irritation and anger.
Then, of course, I forgot about it once I got distracted by life doing it’s thing.
Until yesterday when a friend and I were coming back from Starbucks and the conversation somehow steered towards it. Now, it’s bugging to be released from my brain.
For years, museums have sponsored exhibitions for archaeologists to find “lost” artifacts of different cultures around the world so they can preserve them or whatever and bring it back to their country so that their people can bask in the artifacts of an exotic land that they most likely will never see. It’s a good intention. I guess.
But I have multiple problems with such institutions in the present day. Not a problem with museums themselves or even with most archaeologists (unless they’re the ones who like to sell the artifacts they were hired to retrieve, those people can suck my toes), but with such a dated thought process that people deserve to see such the physical artifacts in museums even if they are originally from an entirely different country.
Also, we live in a time of innovation and advanced technology! I haven’t done research on this but I’m pretty sure there are at least some (I’m actually hoping on this) that are utilizing such technology to make replicas and/or holograms to replace physical artifacts of a different country origin in there displays. Some might say it’s deception, I say it’s innovation.
Some might say that there is nothing like seeing and being near the physical artifact. I say that if you want to that badly, you should fly to that country and visit their museum that carries it. I know it costs money but at least your visit will be more immersive than just going to the local museum.
Some might say that they have a right to have it in their local museum so that they don’t have to pay more money and be inconvenienced. I say that’s an entitlement attitude and that inconvenience is an unfortunate but important part of life. Also, you’re an asshole.
Again, I am going to come around and say that with the technology we already possess, beyond just searching a photo on the internet, it’s possible to have the same experience of visiting an artifact without having to take it from it’s country.
I know I am being redundant. I just don’t know how else to tell you how exactly I feel about this.
Well, there is my opinion on museums. This was probably one of my longer blog posts and I’m pretty sure at least 80% of you have stopped reading at this point but for those of you that have reached the end, I would like to say major kudos for keeping with me and also that I would love to hear your opinion on this if you have one. I’m down to have a conversation about this. I’m down to hear what is your favorite thing about a museum. I’m down to have a conversation about history in general.
Thanks for reading! Peace!