Museum hording a dangerous threat to artifacts

Economic woes are plaguing public museums throughout the United States. As pension plans drain and people scramble to cover losses, institutions are laying off staff, cutting services and closing their doors.

This isn’t new, however. Publicly held museums have been struggling for survival since the 1980s. Americans have made it clear: They do not value institutional preservation of artifacts or heritage. Sure, everyone says they support museums (it’s like asking someone if they like puppies), but fewer are putting their money where their mouth is.

I have mixed feelings about this. Maybe I am not a good one to comment on the state of the museum world, having worked far too many years in various Midwestern institutions. However, it is clear to me that supply and demand rules the museum world.

Currently, the “demand” for museums is at an alarming low. Therefore, museums have tried to curtail “supply” by limiting services. For example, the State of Illinois recently announced it will shut down many of its museums. Minnesota Historical Society is poised for another massive “spring layoff” of staff.

But something isn’t working in “economy of museums”. Demand is low, so museums have lowered supply. That means demand should begin to creep up.

It is not.

The days of the traditional museum are passing fast. On one hand, this is good news for collectors. Close those museums and get the artifacts back in the hands of money-paying public! But that isn’t the way it works.

These struggling museums tend to “mothball” their collections, naively looking to the day when demand will rebound. Ain’t gonna’ happen. Yet, they would rather let historic collections rot in storage than put it back in the hands of the public.

Museum hording is not only egotistic and elitist; it is a dangerous threat to historic artifacts. Private collectors take the time to research, preserve and even display and interpret their collections. Few museums still have the resources to do that.

If a museum can’t open its doors to the public now, little is going to change that within our lifetime. Sell the goods. Get them in the hands of people who can care for, research and appreciate the items. After all, we are all just temporary caretakers of this stuff.

At a time when demand for museums would reemerge,  it would simply be a matter of collecting again. The United States is a nation of savers. If a museum divests itself of its collection today, very little of it will disappear except through natural attrition (which will occur regardless of where the artifacts are kept). When, and if, the museum can open its doors and fulfill its missions in a fiscally responsible manner, the staff would have the opportunity to buy new collections. This would actually weed out redundancy and the maintenance of artifacts inappropriate to the museum’s mission–both symptoms that are commonplace in so many museum collections.

Stimulating growth doesn’t mean locking the doors and turning off the lights. If museums were responsible—that is, true to their missions of preserving the past—they would do whatever it takes to care for the artifacts…even if it meant selling them.

John Adams-Graf
Editor, Military Trader and Military Vehicles Magazine

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6 thoughts on “Museum hording a dangerous threat to artifacts

  1. BRAVO, John!

    Now how do we get the museums, or those in charge of them, to realize this?

  2. Charlie on said:

    I couldn’t disagree with you more except for the point about museum directors who have their own egotistical vision of Manifest Destiny… In 90% of the cases I’ve seen, they should never have expanded facilities. It’s usually a case of too much ambition with too little thought. That said…
    "Americans have made it clear: They do not value institutional preservation of artifacts or heritage." Maybe SOME Americans…..maybe those who would never, ever darken the doorstep of a museum, or a zoo, or an acquarium, or a library, or a park, or….vote. I have heard though, that "Dancing with the Stars" and "American Idol" are having banner years… I think your generalization is way too broad, and too sweeping of a stroke. Some institutions have a growing number of paid members, and a LOT of museums out there are thinking up new ways to gain visitors. Those of us who are innovative actually reach out to site/museum partners, who are not necessarily in the museum business–to have fundraisers, raise awareness, and ultimately bring more people in the door. It does work–some of us actually have growing attendance because of our fundraising, using new technology to deliver our programs, and the use of civic engagement to become a known entity within our town and cities to gain support and awareness.
    You are right, demand for museums is declining, but only for those museums who refuse to change and acknowlege it is indeed the 21st century. Others are getting with the program. One area museums can become "essential" is to make themselves available (for programs, visits, and criticism) from teachers. If a museum offers programs which meet state academic standards, and offer a place where teachers can teach a unit, they will become "necessary" in the eyes of those educators. This can happen either in an on-site visit, or via the internet in an interactive (2-way) program. Teachers are often overloaded and are looking for a way to teach history in a non-traditional manner–outside the classroom. This has worked very well for us at my museum, and we’ve also put a lot of sweat equity into creating relevant, useful programs. We are also open to teacher and public comments about how we are doing, and change things that are not working…
    "Museum hording is not only egotistic and elitist; it is a dangerous threat to historic artifacts. Private collectors take the time to research, preserve and even display and interpret their collections." Tsssst, tsssst…shame on you! This is another gross generalization. Museums are usually constant–whereas collectors come and go according to their own whims, fancies, income, and interests. Yes, museum funding changes as do the personnel over time, but the collections are (generally speaking) held in perpetuity and are generally well cared for over time. This care happens over generations. My institution started collecting artifacts in 1849, before we were even a state. I can go into our collection storage and look at a Mexican War forage cap donated in the 1940’s, over a hundred years after it was used. It has a thoroughly documented provenance and is well cared for with constant humidy and temperature controls. You can even look up the object online! How many private collectors can offer this?
    Now, I am also a militaria collector. I like to think that I take exceedingly good care of my collection. While my intent is not to offend, I have often been to other collector’s homes where their collections were dusty, the heavy helmets were hanging on original fragile chinstraps from rusty nails, and the uniforms were full of moths. Not to mention the three family cats have full access to the uniforms, and every object has hair all over it, as well as smells like a catbox. Or….the collectors "war room" is up in the attic where it gets to be 100 degrees in the summer and sub freezing in the winter… Oh, and I can’t resist the story of the Civil War collector who, in front of many witnesses, was wearing an original shell jacket and jumped into a swimming pool, just "because he could". That said, I do belive most collectors are serious about their collections and mindful about preservation, but there are many who are not. You could very well turn your previous sentence around, substituting "Museum" with "Collector", and it goes something like this: Collector hording is not only egotistic and elitist; it is a dangerous threat to historic artifacts. Museums take the time to research, preserve and even display and interpret their collections."
    Are some museums irresponsible? Absolutely, the answer is "yes". And collectors? The answer is also "yes". You mention that if museums have hard financial times, they can sell off artifacts to keep themselves afloat. Then, when times are better, they can start collecting again. What? Selling artifacts is not a strategy–it’s a stopgap measure which prolongs the inevitable. They would be selling artifacts to pay the light and heat bill, not to save the money for "better times" when they can buy artifacts all over again. Not to mention, there are often severe political repercussions from donors, their families, and legislators when "museums start selling artifacts," no matter what the reason. What those museums need to do is sit down and strategize how they will survive over the next ten years by offering new/different things or changing their current direction. And that Mexican War forage cap, that sold for $45,000 at the museum auction? It’s gone forever, in some collector’s war room, never to be seen by the general public again, or by school children…or puppies….and (God forbid) COULD end up in a garage sale or the trash by someone cleaning out the estate after the collector passes away. This begs the question: When I go on to the great collection in the sky, what will become of my precious artifacts? Will JAG come knocking (I’ve already told my wife who NOT to let in)…. or will my stuff end up in a trash heap within a couple generations, or might it be purchased by someone, a horder, who will throw it on top of a dusty pile of 98 other helmets, or will it actually end up in a collection owned by someone who keeps it clean and shares it with others? I sure hope it ends up in the hands of a competent collector who truly views each piece as a tangible link to American history, and who will care for it accordingly. Before I die, I do plan to donate several of my more significant pieces to……..gulp………those backward dinosaur-like institutions known as "museums".
    I hope we’re still friends.

  3. John on said:

    Very good points, Charlie! Whereas you haven’t convinced me of the viability of historic museums, you do raise good issues to be considered.

    What I find alarming is that many museums are actively firing staff and shutting down services while still "expanding" and trying to broaden their appeal. Corporate America has already figured out that there is a point of critical mass: when you eliminate too much staff, the others become so afraid and disgruntled that customer service drops off, resulting in even more loss of revenue.

    Museums that expand but can’t pay the bills should be allowed to go out of business. Why bail them out too? They have assets. If they think there existence is more important, then they can divest themselves of those assets and continue to pay their light bills for another month. Or, they can just go out of business altogether.

    Artifacts that end up in collectors’ hands aren’t loss. Maybe to you or me, but they aren’t lost. Very little ends up in the trash bin anymore. Too many people have been mesmerized by the illusion of treasure by the likes of Antiques Roadshow and eBay. If a collector dies, believe me, someone in the family KNOWS that there is something to sell. The items will reenter the market. And, if for some reason, it DOES end up in the trash, this country is FULL of dumpster-divers looking to make a fast buck. That stuff IS going to reenter the market.

    However, if it is mothballed in a museum that has closed its doors, its just going to sit there. It does nothing for the economy or for the good of the hobby or the interpretation of the artifact. It doesn’t have a chance.

    Of course we are still friends 🙂

    I am curious to read how others feel about this as well!

  4. Benevolent Dctator on said:


    While there are more than a few wonderful museums that serve society well by preserving original artifacts and using them to add a tangible, personal connection to history, unfortunately these days they seem to be more the exception than the rule. From my experience working closely with a number of museums, museum professionals, and just from traveling around the country visiting museums, I have noticed some very disturbing trends. An alarming number of modern age institutions seem to have morphed into one of three basic entities which exist for very specific purposes, but care of artifacts and fostering an appreciation for their place in a historical context is a distant priority compared to their primary agendas:

    1) The Museum as a shrine to individual donors. This one has been around forever, and serves the motivation of individuals or their families to donate items in the pursuit of some sort of materialistic immortality. These institutions typically have storage shelves and closets bursting at the seams with a heterogeneous accumulation of ‘stuff’ – much of it useless and uninteresting, some of it valuable and / or historic (but only by happy accident.) The worst of these tend to be ‘visible storage’ type museums who subscribe to the theory that everything should always be on display. They rarely have a mission statement, cohesive planned exhibits, or even a topic to hang their hat on. They tend to be municipal or regional in nature, so anything old from their general area is accepted, kept, and displayed. They best resemble antique shops – just without any price tags. Items are lucky if they have identification labels, and ‘go-buy-a-lottery-ticket-lucky if they are identified CORRECTLY! The one type of tag you will see in these places is "Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Whatshisface". See? Now they’re immortal – their shit is in a "museum"! Better yet, a bunch of stuff from the estate went away and the family didn’t have to pay anyone to cart it off.

    2) The Museum as an indoctrination center. Again, nothing particularly new here, but in the modern age the pimping out of artifacts to make political points has become quite commonplace, most prevalently among institutions whose funding waxes and wanes at the whim of politicians and political entities. Imagine that. Remember the controversey when the newly-restored Enola Gay B29 was to be exhibited at the National Air and Space Museum? At the time a large number of leftist bed-wetters supported an exhibit script that essentially removed the aircraft from its historical context and cast it in the role of villan in a horror movie, focusing almost exclusively on the tragic aftermath of the nuclear detonation, as a bell-ringing, prayer paper burning (it’s a Bhuddist thing) tearful apology to the casualties of that mission. Equally vocal were the folks whose star-spangled underwear was ratcheted up as tight as it would go, possibly to help bolster their conviction that the good-ole’ US of A can do no wrong under any circumstances, and besides, the "little yellow bastards" clearly had it coming "cause they started it." There seemed to be no place for the artifacts as illustrations of an impartial observation of history; the cultures and individual people on both sides, the events and considerations that led them to that point in history, the technology involved, the event itself, and of course the aftermath (both good AND bad.) From the visitor’s perspective: most of us just wanted to see the the fu#king B29, get close to a piece of history, and appreciate it without being instructed in how we should feel about it. Whether as a talisman of American evil, the sacred avenger of Pearl Harbor, or just an aircraft that carried out a historic mission resulting in a mix of fortutitous and tragic consequences – one would hope that a museum could simply present the artifact in an unbiased, factual context and trust that the visitor will figure out what it means to them. Or not. Just be grateful that we came through the door, tripped the ‘clicker’, and left without stealing anything or permanently screwing up the toilets.

    Most of the time a museum’s political motivations are not always quite as transparent, but unfortunately more often than not newer exhibits carry some degree of the same stink that flowed freely throughout every aspect of the Enola Gay debacle. As the political winds shift back and forth, I have personally observed exhibits change to please the regime-de-jour. At a museum which shall remain nameless, a relatively decent exhibit on the material culture of American Indians was simply re-badged and relabeled. The new title was (I kid you not) "Native-Americans: The Original Environmentalists". Same exhibit, mind you – just different signs and a whole new interpretative theme designed solely to appeal to specific individual politicians and special interest groups whose influence was sought for funding. One of the long-dead pawns in this game was Smiling Bear, a Native American whose exquisite plains style shirt was prominently featured in the exhibit. Back in the day, he and a dozen or so of his closest tree-hugging hippie Indian pals routinely ran hundreds of ‘extra’ buffalo off a cliff, either because a herd of buffalo is kind of hard to stop once you get them all running in the same direction or perhaps just because they look so goddamn funny when they fall to their splattery doom. I am sure Smiling Bear would be as amused as I was to learn that his tribe used every last ounce of meat, fat, bone, and hide because it was their ‘sacred duty’ to do so. Forensic examinations of the remains of countless bison found by archaeologists in layer upon layer at the base of cliff harvest sites clearly show that in many cases choice cuts were taken and the rest was consumed by scavengers… but as that does not fit the political template it is conveniently not part of the new ‘enlightened’ exhibit. Maybe the label was just too long and they had to cut something.

    3) The Museum as a make-work refuge for political patronage appointees and otherwise unemployable pseudo-intellectuals. I know, I know. There are those among us who will insist that all museums are sacred institutions which should remain open even after the general public has started raising children solely for the black market resale value of their juicy little organs. It is of course true that there are many stellar institutions which are blessed by an abundance of over-worked, under-paid professionals who are as gifted and brilliant as they are physically attractive. That’s just a given. However, like many public sector institutions where a person’s success hinges 99% on who they know and somewhere around 1% on what they actually accomplish, accountability is often sadly non-existent. Some, due only to their own personal integrity and motivation rise above their circumstances and do inspiring work. Unfortunately, though, the modern museum seems to attract an inordinate number of bullshit-artists and slackers who have mastered only three tasks: ‘schmoozing’, cruising the internet for whatever turns their crank, and looking busy when approached unexpectedly by a member of the custodial staff.

    One museum (which again shall remain nameless) had the curator’s slot recently liberated from the handsomely-paid clutches of an employee who had been there since the Johnson administration. Nobody really knew for sure what he did when the office door closed behind him, but they could not avoid noticing that he routinely arrived for the day just before crack of noon, and shuffled off for home well in advance of that brutal 3:30 rush hour traffic. Suffice it to say that in one week of our private sector museum-related business I routinely accomplish more than this guy did in the last decade… and I’m a lazy bastard!

    In that case there were at least a few conscientious professionals at the institution who were picked up the slack and made sure that a portion of this eccentric genuis’ work was actually accomplished. A prime example what happens to artifacts under circumstances where the sole function of the entire staff is converting oxygen into carbon dioxide and waking up long enough every Friday to take a nice long, slurpy, pucker-cheeked draw on the government teat would be the War Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri… or at least it was when I last visited. I remember being shocked by seeing an Ike jacket that was labeled as having once belonged to none other than General Jimmy Dolittle himself – thumbtacked to a display board inside a case, and bleached almost entirely white by UV exposure from direct sunlight. The rest of the displays housed a few very interesting artifacts, but all were in a sad state of disrepair. Many were mislabeled. Emblematic of the staff’s enthusiasm for the job, you could clearly see where items had fallen inside the cases and were left sitting where they landed long enough to gather a carpet of dust and debris.

    So what?

    Advocates have advanced the argument that as a matter of principle, the public interest is best served when historical artifacts are in the custody of museums, rather than private collections. The reasons stated are normally that the artifacts will be better cared for, and that they will be available to the public for exhibition, research, study, etc. Every once in a while you will hear news of the sale of an important or particularly valuable artifact, normally with the commentator lamenting the fact that the interested museums could not afford to buy it, so it was "unfortunately" carted off by a private collector who had the means and motivation to acquire it. There are plenty of ‘good’ museums and museum professionals out there who would do an excellent job of caring for the artifacts, and without a doubt there are legions of private collectors whose conservation and storage efforts can only be described as ‘toxic.’ However, it is no more fair to categorize private collectors as ego-maniacal, selfish hoarders of history than it is to describe museums as unsustainable wastes of taxpayer money infested by shrill activists and shiftless con artists. Many of the most extensive and professional curatorial efforts that I have seen have been accomplished by private collectors who were willing to either learn the skills or hire professional assistance to ensure that the artifacts in their care are preserved.

    Shortly after my visit to the War Memorial in St. Louis, I was informed that the staff positions were all political patronage ‘spoils of victory’ for the mayor to hand out to his cronies, and that in years past some of these cronies had been quite amenable to letting a few artifacts get ‘lost’ here and there if the price was right. Boys and girls, the artifacts that were essentially stolen from that museum and sold ‘out the back door’ were the lucky ones. I am sure that over the years a few collectors will have lost, broken, or foolishly damaged some of them in ill-advised attempts at preservation. The artifacts which ‘disappeared’, no matter how inappropriate the circumstances of their liberation, certainly have a better chance of surviving in the hands of a private collector who has the financial motivation to properly care for them, than they would in a place where the paychecks keep rolling in regardless of performance. To be clear – I am not advocating theft, though I have in fact heard the "it would be better off" argument seriously proposed, and under the specific circumstances of the item and institution had no legitimate rebuttal other than "Theft is theft and it is wrong – period." I prevailed, and the items in the crosshairs on that occasion were indeed left to rot in place, which is exactly what they did. I’m still not 100% sure if I did the right thing or not.

    Mr. Graf did not say that a museum should sell off its collection to keep afloat, though a well-run museum will indeed use targeted deaccession of artifacts that do not fit the collections policy to finance the acquisition and care of those that do. What Mr. Graf was suggesting was that institutions which cannot find enough public and / or private support to keep their doors open at all are doing a disservice to the artifacts and to history by mothballing them in the vain hope of emerging phoenix-like from the ashes of shifting public interest. Will they really be cared for better in ‘stasis’ than in the hands of private collectors, or do museum geeks just so thoroughly despise the concept of private ownership of artifacts that they would rather see them warehoused forever, eventually just to disappear? Have they forgotten that many of the best museum collections in the world began as private collections? (Oh, the humanity!!)

    And what of the children? What if little Sally Muckinfutch never gets to the museum on the 6th Grade class trip because before he left office, that evil Governor Blagojevich decided that it was more important to funnel the confiscated bounty of other citizens’ labor toward yet more road construction around Chicago, race horse breeding programs, midnight basketball youth leagues, or just simply paying off the millions of bleating ner-do-wells whose representatives mill about the statehouse looking to exchange political support for handouts. Well? Is Sally really any better off because the Model 1839 forage cap worn by the Illinois soldier who bitch-slapped Santa Anna and ran away giggling with the Mexican President’s wooden leg tucked under his arm like a football is now abandoned in some dusty warehouse instead of being cared for by the private individual who coughed up $45K for it? Trust me – it is not going to be tossed out after an unsuccessful garage sale… people these days are so enraptured with the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ rusty lottery ticket mentality that even hillbillies in mobile homes have special acid-free paper lined drawers dedicated to the protection of Aunt Edie’s war ration book and their copy of the New York Times from V-E day. (Boy are they gonna be pissed when they try to cash that crap in..) And what of Sally? Well, she probably missed out on the opportunity to shuffle single-file past a dilapidated old case with a funny-looking blue hat turned gray by layers of dust, tossed in the corner but prominently labeled with "Gift of Bob & Mildred Smith" on plastic clicker tape which is fuzed directly to the visor. Must have been Bob’s hat. Or maybe Mildred’s? Under the best of circumstances she might have even been robbed of the chance to look at a well-preserved and dust-free funny looking blue wool hat prominently displayed in a fancy case with expensive (and often non-functional) interactive digital displays that shine the harsh LED’s of truth on James K. Polk for contriving an imperialist war for the sole purpose of stealing the American southwest away from Mexico so that his future great-great-great grandson’s buddies in the Taco, Burrito, and Chimichanga industries would prosper at the expense of innocent lives lost a century earlier.

    Let’s face it dude – Sally is far more interested in cruising the mall dressed in the latest prostatot fashion, dragging her tasty chum in a frilly net through waters infested by awkward and confused but very hungry sharks… or perhaps she is texting merrily away on My Space, finalizing the details for a special secret meeting with an overweight 40-something sicko who still lives in his mother’s basement. She’s not particularly worried about the forage cap. If the schools were not monopolized by unions who insist that no bad teacher should ever be fired and history class is just an opportunity for someone who barely made it through college to show movies and become ‘pals’ with the kids, perhaps little Sally would know less about fallatio and more about manifest destiny… but that ship sailed long ago. Decades from now when she gets out of therapy and finally discovers her newly-awakened passion for Mexican War history, she can visit the hat at the spectacular new museum started by a wealthy old collector who once bought the centerpiece of his collection at a museum ‘going out of business’ sale. Hell, maybe they’ll even hit it off.

    Bottom Line

    So hardly anybody comes to visit anymore and the big grants aren’t pouring in like they used to? Surely museums are so important that the politicians will ride to the rescue! Well, where are they?

    In the 1990’s government grew at a rate of 2%. Irresponsible spending was out of control under George W. Bush – government grew at a rate just slightly above 6.1%. This year it is forcasted to grow at an absolutely shocking and completely unsustainable rate of 36%! A large part of this runaway federal spending started with the so-called ‘stimulus’ bill. So what does this have do do with museums? Think about it – this year Congress critters of both parties passed the biggest most irresponsible pork-barrel spending bill in human history, of which there was token amount that remotely resembled ‘stimulus’ and the remaining vast majority was comprised of every ignorant, rediculous, bizarre, and wasteful vote-buying spending scheme that corrupt politicians had fantasized about over the past 60 years… and your facility wasn’t even on THAT list? Sweetheart, at some point even the slowest chick around has to realize that her sugar daddy has dumped her for a younger bimbo.. or in this case a nation full of bimbos. If the gravy train to end all gravy trains reached the last stop on the line without quite getting to some of the more poorly-run institutions… well, boo-frickity-hoo. Get out the price tags, sell off the stuff, and learn a trade. You’re tying up a lot of good inventory.

  5. Charlie on said:

    Dear Bevevolent,
    Nicely done, but wow…….what pap.

    But–There are some good points in there. I think in order for the argument to go any farther, we need to begin "naming institutions" because this has gone way beyond the "all museums do this" stage. I agree, the St. Louis War Memorial, the Smithsonian, and a certain state museum have had issues in the past, but there are a lot of competent museums out there….including the Smithsonian. And, there are a lot of grease ball collectors who don’t know anal-ease from shinola.

    As a collector I am really torn on this issue–I see it both ways, UNTIL collectors start the old, worn, Santa Fe Trail rut-like mantra "all museums do is hoard stuff and I never get to see it and why won’t they sell it to me and I never kissed a real girl (uh….Rolin, who let you in here!?!) rah, rah, rah"…..and attack my profession, that’s when the gloves come off. Might I add, the supple MINT 1942-dated airborne gloves (2 pair) I got at a farm auction for $3…which I plan to donate someday to a museum. As you can tell, I’m not TOO torn up over this discussion. I have to laugh because this issue will be here as long as there are collectors and museums. But I resent the fact that I’m lumped into that group who "makes big bucks by simply converting oygen into carbon dioxide" (I did laugh pretty hard at that one–it’s very creative). I work my tail off to make sure people understand American history–outside the classroom. On my staff, there is not one lazy oxygen converter, and the public gets to not only see "great old stuff" but they get the stories and interpretation around it as well. They get context.

    And why is little Sally more concerned with fallatio than Manifest Destiny? Well, gee, I don’t think that is the Museum Profession’s fault. Maybe it’s because mom ran off with the UPS man, and dad is that guy you describe living in Uncle Bert’s basement. It sounds like by the 11th paragraph…, the author was standing up, getting really red in the face, yelling, and throwing spittle all over his audience of stuffed animals. Is this the decline of western civilzation? Is this all because museums aren’t willing to sell their "stuff"? He makes it sound like the impending RAPTURE is connected to museum attendance…. My grandmother blamed things like this on The Beatles, not on museums.
    I think someone needs a hug…

  6. Benevolent Dctator on said:

    "I think someone needs a hug… "
    Promises, promises…

    BTW – I will agree with you on one point – there are indeed a lot of collectors who don’t know anal-ease from shinola. Unfortunately, the former is repackaged and branded "PECARDS", so a disturbing number of collectors (and misinformed museum-types) are well-aware of the stuff and spend a lot of time ruining leather artifacts with it.

    I think we can solve this problem, though. I have contacted my local corrupt congress-weasel and will soon be in touch with her no-good, slippery counterparts in the Senate. Since Museums are counting on survival under the banner of "EDUCATION", so be it. I am proposing the "Museum Educational Accountability Act of 2009". That is until I can think of a title that somehow works as many of the following words as possible: children, puppies, minority, empowerment, community, investment, environment, and heritage. Success with that word game will guarantee that the legislation is voted on and passed without so much as a passing glance.

    In brief, this legislation will create a system whereby artifacts on exhibit in museums which accept any government funds are required to be accurately identified and labeled. (Typos and syntax do not count, or everything on display in Ohio would fail the test immediately.) Items which can be demonstrated to be clearly misidentified or misrepresented in exhibits shall be sold to the petitioner for the lessor of $100 or 50% of their value per the museum’s most recent insurance appraisal if one exists. Burden of proof is on the petitioner.

    I’ll keep you updated as the kinks are ironed out.

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