Displaying human remains at museums

Museums typically want to display historical items – but certain objects raise more concerns than others. One sociologist has highlighted how museums have reconsidered displaying human remains:

In a book published yesterday, Tiffany Jenkins, a sociologist, highlighted how uneasy museums are becoming when it comes to displaying human remains. Jenkins gave examples including the Museum of London, which removed bones showing the effects of rickets, and Manchester University Museum, which took the head of an iron-age human, Worsley Man, off display; in 2008, it briefly covered its mummies with sheets.

This can be a complicated issue. But I would guess that feelings regarding the display of human remains are a cultural phenomenon which differs from culture to culture. Typical American practices of dealing with remains (burial or cremation) differ from other cultures, both now and historically. And what is valid as museum material also is affected by cultural values and history.

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