Ethics and Collecting in the 'Postmodern" Museum: A Papua New Guinea Example

Elizabeth BONSHEK

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


It is commonplace today for museums to have collection development policies governing acquisitions and collecting, accompanied by statements concerning the need for ethical standards in acquisition, the latter referencing ICOM standards and appropriate legislation. This chapter turns from museum policy to focus on the events and issues met within the process of making a collection of pottery from Papua New Guinea, for a museum holding ethnographic objects. I delineate the preoccupations of the pot makers concerned and compare these with the aims and objectives of the museum as a collecting institution including the role of the collector as museum agent and fieldworker. In presenting this case study, I illustrate that the specific actions of ‘ethical’ collecting cannot necessarily be stipulated in advance, beyond the broadest/abstract statements of intention: but such statements of intention must be able to accommodate divergent local views, without being able to predict what these may be.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Ethics of Cultural Heritage
EditorsTracy Ireland, John Schofield
Place of PublicationUnited States
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781493916498
ISBN (Print)9781493916481
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameThe Ethics of Cultural Heritage


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