Culture Vulture

Museums are battlegrounds of history

I was struck by the thought that museums are places where facts are rearranged to fit certain narratives

The stereotyped image of museums tends to be one of quiet, hallowed halls of wisdom, dispensing authoritative nuggets of information about history and culture.

Certainly, museums have traditionally been the repositories of concrete artefacts, but they are also centres of learning, where soft power is consolidated and wielded. That is probably why museums can also be fraught battlegrounds where facts are rearranged to fit politically correct/convenient narratives. This thought struck me after I visited a string of exhibitions in Tokyo museums on a recent holiday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2018, with the headline 'Battlegrounds of history'. Print Edition | Subscribe