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Debating contemporary museum ethics: reporting Sekhemka

Kidd, Jenny 2017. Debating contemporary museum ethics: reporting Sekhemka. International Journal of Heritage Studies 23 (6) , pp. 493-505.

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The sale by Northampton Borough Council (UK) of the Egyptian Sekhemka statue at auction house Christie’s became a key focus of international debate about contemporary museum ethics in 2015–2016. A decision to deaccession and dispose of a museum object would not traditionally be the subject of intense media scrutiny, but the case of Sekhemka was widely reported in local, national and international press. This article takes as its start point the question ‘What did media reporting of the sale of Sekhemka reveal about contemporary museum ethics, and the terms of their debate?’ It reports findings from a content and discourse analysis of 229 news stories dating from late 2012 when the sale was first proposed, to May 2016 when it was reported that in all probability the Sekhemka statue had finally left the country. The ambiguous and intriguing sale of Sekhemka might not be the last as global economic and geopolitical circumstances continue to impact our valuations and uses of cultural heritage. This paper demonstrates that we would do well to keep media reporting of such events under close scrutiny in the interests of a considered and informed contemporary museum ethics.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ethics, museums, Sekhemka, heritage, discourse
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1352-7258
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 January 2017
Date of Acceptance: 24 January 2017
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2018 15:37

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