The Fine Line in Displaying Art

It appears that Germany’s fascination with Karl May and the American West has led to the country’s museums getting caught up in a controversy over the ownership and display of Native American scalps.

As Melissa Eddy reported in the New York Times 2014, the Karl May Museum in Radebeul is in dispute with the Sault Tribe over the possession of scalps believed to belong to the tribe’s ancestors. The museum’s reluctance to hand over these items reveals an underlying larger debate. Unlike most of their counterparts in the United States, German museums sometimes refuse to follow calls for the return of Native American scalps, referring to Native American traditions of keeping parts of one’s enemy’s physical remains as war trophies.

Read more here.



The exhibition of non-European art in German museums and issues of art and power will also be debated at the WeberWorldCafé “Museum, Power and Identity”.

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