Why Do You Care? – Considerations in the Rathkeale Rovers Museum Thefts

Philosophers, historians and museum professionals more generally have spent a good deal of time and energy debating the utility and purposes of art and artifacts; especially as they are contextualized by display in institutions. However, these discussions are often inaccessible and largely irrelevant to the ways that most people perceive and consume these objects. I read an exceedingly long narrative article by Charles Homans called “The Dead Zoo Gang” this week and found it an interesting exercise in considering the way historical objects are valued and utilized by different groups. “The Dead Zoo Gang” is an article about the theft of rhino horns by a network of Irish criminals, and ties into the tension between utility and philosophical value of historical objects. As museums think about how to make their practices less colonial and paternalistic I think this article and the case it describes offer different perspectives on the ways in which people outside of the academy interact with the objects of display.Read More »