Monday, March 1, 2010

Morality and exhibits?

A few recent articles have raised questions about the morality of some museum exhibits. Obviously, Germany and Nazism is a special cultural case, but I'm glad that they appear to not be just closing off that aspect of their military history.

The first article specifically raises some items that you naturally find in a medical museum. On the other side, I don't actually believe that the National Museum of Crime and Punishment is actually a museum - I think it's closer to an attraction, or a tiny theme park. Beyond that, I don't think the exhibit of a serial killers car tells you anything about the killer. On the other hand, if it is still in existence and people want to pay to see it - well, I, personally, am ok with that too.

Why some art should be censored
Shreveport Times (February 28, 2010)

Another sort of case concerns the use of human corpses in art. There is a venerable tradition of showing the dead for various reasons, as in Rembrandt's famous The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp or Goya's depictions of the horrors of war — not to mention numerous crucifixions. News coverage sometimes courts the grisly by its depictions of the deceased. A case where I supported censorship involved Cincinnati artist Thomas Condon who was prosecuted for photographs he took of corpses in 2001. He gained access to the corpses illegally and staged images without the knowledge or permission of their families.

George Packer, Letter from Dresden, “Embers: Will Dresden Finally Confront Its Past?” The New Yorker, February 1, 2010, p. 33

Ted Bundy's VW goes on display at D.C. crime museum, but should it?
By Philip Kennicott
Friday, February 19, 2010

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