Sunday, 6 March 2016

Museum Misleads Public About Donations

As part of the nationwide BM-promoted head-patting of artefact collectors, Colchester Museum is now telling the public fibs:
First look at the Fenwick treasure for metal detectorists who have donated objects to the museum
The first 'Museum security 101' issue is that of allowing artefact collectors to crowd round and lean on a flimsy table where small items seem to be on open display. The second is that the Fenwick "Treasure" (a Julio-Claudian jewellery hoard) was not donated by any metal detectorists, but was found by archaeologists during a regular urban development archaeology project.

Artefact hunting and collecting are not "#archaeology" and removing the superfluous hashtag from the patronising tweet would allow the Museum to tell its public (the public that pay for the Museum in the first place) more accurately what they are showing. These afre metal detectorists who are being rewarded for "donating objects" by being given first sight of a "treasure" - and the public are being given the message that individuals collecting away the archaeological record is a "good" thing.  It is very sad to see this lack of proper public information from the social media of such institutions. Particulalrly sad in this case because Colchester Museum under curator M.R, Hull was one of the national leaders in scholarship and public outreach - but that was many decades ago, two generations in the past, beyond the present dumb-dumbdown with which British archaeology fobs off the interested public.

Real best practice, real "responsible artefact hunting" would entail donation of items not being an exception, worthy of reward from the gatekeepers and then pour encorager les autres tweet-bombing. This should be the unremarkable norm,. That it is not is an important commentary on the uccess of British heritage policy concerning artefact hunting. and collecting.

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