MUSEUM lovers have clashed over a controversial decision by the Pitt Rivers Museum to remove a collection of shrunken heads which had been on show for more than 80 years.

A row erupted on Facebook after the world-famous institution removed 120 human remains ahead of its reopening yesterday, with some people saying it was the fault of the ‘snowflake generation’.

The Oxford University museum took the decision as part of a ‘decolonisation process’ saying that displaying human remains ‘reinforced racist and stereotypical thinking that goes against the museum’s core values.

However, those who visited the museum shared fond memories of family outings and criticised the removal.

One museum-goer Paul Pledge commented: “I am glad I took my children there multiple times over the years.

“They were always a talking point with my children for as long as I can remember, it is a sad day for the museum.”

Many people argued that removing the South American shrunken heads or tsantsas ‘erases history’.

Michael Scarlett from Banbury, said: “Removing these exhibits does more harm than good.

“Seeing exhibits brings home the true horror of what happened, removing them makes it easy to forget the atrocities that ever happened.”

The Pitt Rivers is one of the leading and best-known museums of anthropology, ethnography and archaeology in the world and its collection of more than 500,000 items was acquired over more than 130 years.

But much of its collection is closely tied to British Imperial expansion and the so-called ‘colonial mandate’ to collect and classify objects from around the world.

Lead by Laura Van Broekhoven, director of the Pitt Rivers Museum, the three-year review identified displays that required ‘urgent attention’ because of the derogatory language used in the historic case labels or because they reinforced stereotypical thinking.

Ms Van Broekhoven explained: “Our audience research has shown that visitors often saw the museum’s displays of human remains as a testament to other cultures being ‘savage’, ‘primitive’ or ‘gruesome’.

“Rather than enabling our visitors to reach a deeper understanding of each other’s ways of being, the displays reinforced racist and stereotypical thinking that goes against the museum’s values today.”

The decision also comes at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement is pushing for a re-examination of the British Empire and the many artefacts acquired dubiously from conquered lands.

Oxford Mail:

While many argued against the removal of the tsantsas, one museum-goer, Tamara Cartwright-Loebl, defended the divisive decision, and commented: “They have not been taken away ‘for good’ or forever.

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“They are reassessing how they are displayed and working with the originating people to display them properly with accurate information as opposed to the previous inaccurate information.

“The resulting displays will be more informative by placing them much more accurately in context.”