Read Carefully the Following Piece of Text. What Does It Tell Us About Cross Cultural Encounters?

1128 Words Jun 4th, 2012 5 Pages
Assignment 5
Part1
Option B
Read carefully the following piece of text. What does it tell us about cross cultural encounters?

In 1892 the new vice-consul for the Benin river section Captain Henry Gallwey visited Benin and signed a treaty which made Benin a British protectorate, but as far as the British were concerned the treaty proved disappointing and by 1896 many British traders and officials were calling for military intervention, although the foreign office seemed reluctant to do this.
On January 2nd 1897 the acting consul-general of the protectorate James Phillips set off without permission for Benin accompanied by a large armed party. When news of the oncoming invaders reached Benin it caused alarm and messengers were sent
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The Benin art works were brought back and sold to a variety of private collectors and museums alike, including The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and the British Museum. Competition to acquire these unusual objects was fierce.
The view from Victorians concerning the artwork was that they were obtained from” brutal and unruly savages from Benin” (The Times, 25th September 1897, p12) but it was also thought that the quality and workmanship of the pieces was exceptional.
Originally when the pieces were put on display at museums such as The Pitt Rivers they were just piled up in what seemed a chaotic manner in glass cabinets, not displayed in any order or reference to religious or cultural beliefs, they were just grouped in terms of use with no thought to artistic value.
In the British Museum the Benin plaques were originally displayed in an area known as the Assyrian Basement that was not even known that well to the general public and have since shown to have no relevance to the rest of the contents of that room. The storage of the pieces in that way suggests that they were uncertain as to how to categorise these works of art.
In museums today various pieces are displayed in such a way as to show people that these pieces are what they are and to explain their original uses etc. In Paris for example, a new museum was built in 2006 called Quai Branly and it displayed a collection of Benin pieces including…