All posts tagged: art of other people

The Disorienting Beauty of ‘Africa & Byzantium’

The Disorienting Beauty of ‘Africa & Byzantium’

Viewed benignly, the encyclopedic art museum is a great public library of things, illuminating the brilliant variety and shared impulses of our species, and promoting intercultural understanding and admiration. Viewed less benignly, it has been cast as the well-spoken child of imperialist shopaholics and kleptomaniacs who appropriated the art of other people to tell flattering tales about themselves. Explore the March 2024 Issue Check out more from this issue and find your next story to read. View More Museums have long contested this characterization on grounds both pragmatic (their ability to protect and care for the world’s treasures) and high-minded—the belief that convening things from everywhere enables them to tell a sweeping, global story about what it is to be human. The 2002 “Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums,” signed by the directors of 18 world-famous institutions, put the claim succinctly: “Museums serve not just the citizens of one nation but the people of every nation.” It’s a fine sentiment, but the fact that every one of those 18 museums is in …