The Ethical role (and significance) of Museums in the Development of National Identity

The question of the role of museums in the development of national identity has been a center of interest for the researchers. Although the museums are the venues to display objects of interest but the fact is not as simple as it appears. The objects in the museums are of significance as they are center of interest for people from all spheres of life, whether science and technology, or military or archeology. But the emphasis is always on the objects specific to one’s culture.

The question of the ethical role of the museums may not be as important as the ideology of the heads that administer the museums. Museums are inanimate edifices but represent history and culture of a nation that is to live for years. If the administrators of the museums deliberately ignore the minorities of the country then the problems and conflicts are likely to occur (Staiff, 2003). In a multicultural setting the ethical cumber on the museums is severe as they must then represent the culture of minorities along with the majority. ‘We live’, says Ven, ‘in an increasingly dividened world’ (Ven, 2005). Culture is defined as an important aspect of human behavior and history which must be reflected through interactions but it is also manifested through various symbols (Fadil, 1995). One of these symbols is museum.  The ‘ethical responsibility’ of museums is the ‘service of society’ and its ‘development’ (Okita, 1997, p.132).

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