Decolonising museum considers dropping term ‘discovery’

The National Museum of Scotland has said it had undertaken work to address how certain items ended up in its galleries.

A spokeswoman said: “Our Discoveries Gallery has been reviewed and changes made to panels and interpretive text to better reflect how the objects displayed came into our museums, including as legacies of imperial and colonial history.”

She added: “In a second phase of development, we intend to introduce new content bringing different perspectives and stories into the gallery and this phase, as is often the case with this work, will include a review of the gallery name.”

The gallery will be changed to focus on the history of collection, how objects are acquired, and why ancient and contemporary items are brought to the museum.

Any new name will be aimed at better reflecting the new themes explored in the gallery, the museum has stated.

But the review of “Discoveries” has received criticism, with Zareer Masani, historian of the British Empire, saying: “Of course, one person’s discovery might have been someone else’s familiar home, but that could make such encounters all the more exciting for the participants.

“A pity that some people’s obsession with colonialism and slavery is busy denuding our historical landscape of all its colour and excitement.”

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