Human Remains Curatorship Ethical or Academic

Human Remains Curatorship Ethical or Academic

Abstract

Biological objections are always easily evoked the public concern of ethical issue especially in human remains And therefore museum professionals should treat human remains differently and carefully in curation

The public awareness of ethics is changing from time to time In the past audiences did not response the concerns of human remains that are exhibited in museums either with the human bones or an open coffin of Egyptian mummies In 1998 there was no public comment was made for displaying the human remains of a medieval mother and child in Museum of London and no one disagreed that a museum curator displays human remains in a glass case would had a problem or would be invidious Swain 2002 So how do the museum professionals handle human remains exhibitions

Controversial topic of human remains display in UK museums

The collections of human remains in museums were becoming sensitive topics over the last thirty years beginning from Western countries Jenkins 2003 Museums in Australia and the North America began to response to the repatriation demands about a decade ago which was given a pressure in the UK or any other western countries to debate this topic sincerely Appleton 2002 The focus of ethical concern on human remains is mainly associated with indigenous groups and social changes Jenkins 2011

London Bodies exhibition

The Museum of London performed London Bodies exhibition in October 1998 to February 1999 Swain 2002 The aim of this exhibition was tracing the change of appearance of Londoners since prehistoric times by presented archaeological evidence from human skeletal remains which was drawn upon a very large collection about 18000 human skeletons Swain 2002

The design of London Bodies exhibition was involved a diverse team of specialists including osteologists curators designers press PR staff and conservators and also a team of external consultants Swain 2002 The exhibition team took careful decisions on how to balance the respect for the human remains and the motivations for the exhibition as well as the display approach Curtis 2003

The team put up three very clear warnings outside to ensure people noticed the warning before entering to the exhibition and did not allow children and school parties went into the exhibition without accompanying adults Swain 2002

Swain quoted a viewpoint from Parker Pearsons paper Ethics and the dead in British archaeology that British responses to dead bodies are ambivalent contradictory and inconsistent and is related to the way how the human remains are treated Swain 2002 Swain mentioned the views of London Bodies were conflict Some of the views from university archaeologists were negative who had have experience of working in North America or Australia where the cultural background of native people believe the disturbance of the dead is unacceptable and unethical Swain 2002 but Swain argued that people should not just follow a single set of standards for all human remains display with different cultural background Swain 2002 The visitor comments of London Bodies were mostly positive which was given a supporting figure to show that London society did not have a big problem with the display of human remains in an exhibition Curtis 2003

The Lindow Man exhibition at Manchester Museum

A 2000 year old man at Lindow Moss near Wilmslow Manchester UK was discovered in 1984 who had suffered a violent death Sitch 2008 This discovery was provided precious evidence to archaeologists and forensic scientists about the life of people during the late Iron Age and early Roman period Sitch 2008

The recent exhibition of Lindow Man a Bog Body Mystery in The Manchester Museum was exhibited in April 2008 to April 2009 This was not the first time exhibition of Lindow Man at The Manchester Museum Therefore eight speciallyselected contributors proposed new interpretations of Lindow Man in order to explore different meanings to different people Sitch 2008 The museu

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