Introduction: liberating culture
The museum idea and the practice of collecting and preserving valued objects are generally considered distinctly western cultural inventions and preoccupations (Ames 1992, Cannon-Brookes 1984, Clifford 1988, Pearce 1992). But nearly all cultures keep objects of special value and meaning, and many have developed elaborate structures for storing and displaying them as well as methods for their care and preservation. In many respects, these practices are similar to those of western museums and curatorship. As Moira Simpson has pointed out in her groundbreaking book, Making Representations: Museums in the Post-Colonial Era (1996):
This impression of museums as a purely western concept is not entirely accurate. Museum-like models have existed traditionally in other cultures for many years, and some facets of conventional museum practice conform to these indigenous models.