Museums have historically been considered institutions focused on the collection, display and preservation of objects of historical, scientific or cultural significance. While the history of museums is long and complex, many of the great public museums of the world were established in or since the Age of Enlightenment. Where major collections are international, their formation is often associated with different waves of political and economic global endeavour, whether through trade, the building of empires or today's 'soft power'. The fate of artefacts and specifically works of art needs to be seen not just as another form of trade but as a global cultural process that speaks powerfully of historical and contemporary conditions of human migration, formations of identity and exchange of ideas.
How does the fetishisation of works of art from emerging regions (and their subsequent fall from grace) relate to problems of exploitation of resources and markets more generally? As the global balance of power shifts, what becomes of art and culture?
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