I disagree with Jessica’s idea that art should never be removed from its country of origin. While her concern for the status of the artifacts is a very good one, and there is a very good point to thinking that there is a danger of losing the historical significance of a particular artifact as it travels, ultimately, sharing artifacts on a lending basis does more harm than good. Jessica brings up the matter of Alexander’s conquering army destroying artifacts in ancient Rome but doesn’t take into account the fact that the job of the conquering army is to destroy the conquered nation’s ties to its own culture and history to force them to adopt the conquering nation’s culture. This has little to do with a country displaying its own cultural artifacts and history to share with its own people in a museum, as unfortunate as it was.
Jessica’s idea also does not account for immigrants who live in countries other than their native ones; for many people, the cost of admission into a museum is far more affordable than the cost of a plane ticket to visit the country of their ancestry. Should a Mexican-American be cut off from their cultural and national history because they cannot afford to fly to Mexico to see the artifacts that belong to them just as much to Mexicans still living in Mexico? The Jewish History Museum in D.C. has exhibits of shoes taken from concentration camps, but it doesn’t mean that a Jewish American citizen feels any less meaning than a Polish Jew, if the shoes were taken from a Polish camp.
Stealing art and artifacts as a conquering or invading culture is one thing, and is a violation of the personal rights of the people whose history is being stolen and appropriated, which Jessica and I agree on, but willingly sharing art is another thing entirely.