Monday, July 4, 2011

Shipwrecked Exhibition Postponed

Late last week, the Smithsonian finally announced that they will be postponing their exhibition of “Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds” due to the opposition from archaeologists who oppose how the collection was excavated. Selfishly, my first reaction was disappointment that I will no longer be finishing my paper at around the same time the show actually opens. The impeccable timing was one of the first selling points about using this controversy as the focus for my senior work in the first place. However, thinking less of myself and more of the common good again, this is great news. I agree with Derek Fincham that the arguments put forth by archaeologists are creating unreasonably high standards for museum exhibitions. However, more time spent on this show can’t be a bad thing at all. I think it’s a good sign that the Smithsonian has taken so much consideration of scholars’ concerns, but I do hope they won’t go overboard in censoring themselves to please the disgruntled. This is a great opportunity to be open and honest about where artifacts come from, how they get here, and what they can still tell us about the people who made and used them.


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