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What is the primary role of the museum in the modern world?

Museums have many roles, responsibilities and functions, some of which arose with the origin of western museums hundreds of years ago, others very new. This is a major debate in the field of Museum Studies as well as other associated fields. Some historical roles have included the museum as a place for academic research, as an educational institution, or both. Most museums continue to perform in this role. More recently the museum has been championed as a place of social interaction, a center for social justice and even a space for experimentation, invention and innovation where visitors can learn how to get involved. What do you think the museum does?

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    Nov 20 2012: my friends went to Eygpt,and I said to them see if you can sense who built the pyramids from being in the structures. They came back and said It was the Arabs. MY black friends re3assure me it was black africans that constructed the pyramids. Their proof is that south of Eygpt thousands of Pyramids exist and none are north of Eygpt. It is implied that the museum ifs falsely representing history to discredit blacks from having constructed something so outstanding.. So while everyone here loves history and connection...some peoples history may be fasley represented by instutions for what reasons? The final piece of evidence my friends gave me is Arabs ride camels,there is not one camel drawn on any pyramid any where. I dont really care who built the pryramids,but to think history could be redirected by museums to discredit the intelligence of past peoples,or limit our perceptions troubles me. I love to be positive...but am I the only one who felt a huge bias in museums against giving credit to some groups?
    • Nov 20 2012: The truth is neither of them are correct. You are correct that the facts are skewed within museums. But it isn't only museums that do this, but also the writers and publishers of history books, etc. The pyramids were built by the ancient Egyptians, however it is not as simple as it sounds. For thousands of years, Egypt was a section of the Nubian Empire, which originated in Ethiopia. The Egyptians and Nubians fought many wars over territories, with each conquering the other and lands going back and forth several times. It has largely been pushed aside that the Nubian Empire ever conquered Ancient Egypt, precisely because of the sort of racism you suspect. Many archaeologists that study Ancient Egypt do not want to accept that it was ever conquered, especially by an Empire of black peoples from below. However, the archaeological evidence maintains that Ancient Egypt was a region of the Nubian Empire for at least two thousand years, and furthermore, that much of the grand innovations of the ancient Egyptians were created under Nubian control.
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        Nov 21 2012: Having artifacts on display allows thoughtful and up-to-date discussion of what is known of their origins.

        Many people's concept of what museums do is out of date, with much greater emphasis today on bringing forward the works of sectors of the creative population that used to be less represented.
    • Nov 20 2012: Personally, I don't think that it even matters that much. I understand that your black friends want to be proud of their history and heritage, but the beauty of history is the humanity of it, the achievements, the stories that are told. In my opinion, it doesn't matter who did what or what color their skin was. It is all part of one great story.
    • Nov 20 2012: I am not an archaeologist and have not read any academic journal articles about this issue, however, I did read a very good article about this in Nat Geo. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/02/black-pharaohs/robert-draper-text.html This article is very readable, but does not patronize the reader. It is a good representation of a hidden piece of history.

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