We are faced with two difficult questions as a nation; Should we-(referring to the United States), keep the status quo and maintain the presence of controversial historical statues in our public square or should we begin to ask ourselves-(in the wake of Charlottesville), the deeper ethical meaning behind the maintenance of such statues on public property? How far should we go or should we remain stoical? Do we “progress” towards an America that promotes and justifies a wildly iconoclastic approach towards our public and monumental history or do we “conserve” an America that embellishes a romanticized-(and at times, mythologized) history through the veneration of public monuments?
Maybe, there is a third option, a moral and literal middle ground to this ongoing and embittering debate. Perhaps The Museum can serve in a uniquely and unofficial diplomatic capacity whereby it literally and symbolically protects a nation’s cultural legacy from the ravages and eruptions of youthful disquiet, while also curating a Center and mindset that is primarily concerned with instilling and promoting the values of historical education and awareness, as well as to lengthily and critically acknowledge-(but not to hysterically exclaim)……the moral deficiencies of such figures and symbols.
These are the challenges that must be addressed through “Museum Diplomacy”.
(Still in its early draft, more needs to be written and refined!)
Alex Philips is the Author of, “Museum Diplomacy” and the Founder of E-Commentary.