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[Perspectives] Crossing cultures: land and encounters

The history of anthropology exhibitions and ethnographic museums exposes an unpleasant colonial past, and exhibitions of Indigenous Australian culture in Europe are among the worst. European anthropology exhibitions are grounded in the tradition of the 19th-century World’s Fair, which brought travel and cultural voyeurism to the masses by plundering local people and sometimes putting them on display in a freak show setting. Fortunately, anthropology as a discipline changed for the better in the 20th century, and in recent decades many international institutions started to employ curators from Indigenous communities to manage and interpret their collections appropriately, including the British Museum.