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It’s always nice to see stout defences of intellectual liberty:

It is both a hallmark of a democratic society and a cornerstone of museum ethics that our sector should operate at arm’s length from the government. Museums must be able to carry out research and inquiry into all areas of history – it is not for ministers to dictate what constitutes a legitimate subject for investigation or what the outcome of that research might be. […] We are particularly concerned that a climate of fear has been created amongst museums and museum staff, especially those working on subjects relating to Britain’s imperial past, and we support the rights of everyone working on these issues to do so free of interference, threats and intimidation.

Researchers’ freedom from interference is an interesting framing for the organisation’s concerns. The Museums Association openly states that it is worried about interference in the ‘work to decolonise museums’ which it ‘unreservedly supports’. It proudly considers ‘decolonising work to be ethically the right thing to do’ and believes that ‘sector support organisations, the MA Ethics Committee and museums should work together to establish new guidance for the sector and ensure that museums take a proactive approach in the reinterpretation and decolonising of collections’.

Of course the Museums Association is not obliged to affect neutrality on a matter of moral imperatives; but then it does become hard to look like a convincing champion of sectoral non-interference and academic freedom.

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