Headline September 15, 2019/ '' 'CROWNS? AFRICAN *CULTURE!' ''


TROUBLING - VERY TROUBLING RE PORT renews debate on all African artifacts in European museums. Is Africa's culture better off in Europe or in Africa?.

That is the question at the heart of a year long debate that has gripped museums in Europe, where many officials say they support the idea of repatriating artifacts but worry that African museums  cannot compare with state-of-the-art facilities in Britain, France or Germany,

That debate has been given new life in recent months after an investigation by Suddeutsche Zaitung newspaper found that many of the artifacts that will be on display in the Humboldt Forum, a huge new museum under construction in a rebuilt Berlin palace, had for years been stored in less-than-ideal conditions.

The report featured searing depiction of flooded storage rooms and depots choked with toxic dust.

''They complain that they do not have enough money to do research on these objects to take proper care of them,'' said Tahir Della, a postcolonial activist based in Berlin.,''but they had enough money to build a castle in the middle of Berlin.

''The question remains : Who are the rightful owners of these objects, and how can we treat them so they are not destroyed or damaged in the museum depots?'' Mr. Della added.

The Humboldt Forum will bring together the collections of several existing museums in the city under one roof, but reports in the German news media have focused on the storage facilities of the Ethnological Museum of Berlin, which will be the Forum's largest single contributor.

Officials at the museum, which closed to the public in 2017 to prepare for the move to its new home, have responded with what observers call an unusual degree of openness.

They have denied some of the reports, in particular the claim of flooded storerooms, but said their depots were beset with problems common to museums across Germany. These included outdated facilities, a lack of staff members, and a sense of disarray that dates to moments of crisis in German history.

Despite all that, they steadfastly rejected that those conditions might call into question their stewardship of the artifacts, many of which were collected during the era of European imperialism.

''We're not saying we are living in a perfect world,'' Lars-Christian Koch, a senior official overseeing the Ethnological Museum, said in an interview. But, he added, ''We definitely know what we are doing and how to take care of the objects.''

We have our difficulties,'' said Professor Koch said, ''but we are opening up the whole situation and are being transparent.''

Berlin's state museums returned nine artifacts to indigenous groups in Alaska last year, and professor Koch and others pointed to an agreement signed by Germany's culture authorities in March that established guidelines for returning objects taken from former colonies.

''There are international standards for storage facilities and we know that in some museums and in Africa and Asia, you don't have these standards,'' Professor Koch said. ''That's why some of our colleagues are asking us from these countries to get some way of capacity-building over there.''

Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese art collector who runs a foundation that has organized the returns of artifacts to Congo and Angola, said it was true that ''a whole generation'' of museum professionals, like curators and conservationists, needed to be trained ''in most of the African countries.''

But while that new generation was being trained, he it is European museums' responsibility to make sure African audience access to the artifacts in their possession.

Institutions should say to themselves, ''I need to find ways to make this very very important part of their cultural history and identify accessible to this population. How do I make that happen?'' Mr. Dokolo said.

It is up to them to create the conditions that would let African artifacts ''play their roles where they need to be right now, in Africa,'' he added.

If Germany wants to work on capacity-building in museums, it might consider starting closer to home, said Andreas Schlothauer, the editor of the cultural journal Art and Context. He said, in some ways, it is German museums that are often out of step with international norms.

While the Ethnological Museum is funded by the federal government, most museums in Germany are funded by local governments that prefer to invest in exhibitions over the unseen labor of preservation, Mr. Schlothauer said.

That dynamic has led many of them to overlook innovations, like digital inventories, that museums in other countries embraced years ago, he said.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Cultures and Heritage, continues. The World Students Society thanks author and researcher, Liam Stack.

With respectful dedication to the peoples of Africa, and Students, Professors and Teachers of the world.

See Ya all on Facebook, prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter !E-WOW! - the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Culture & Museums '''

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