Summary of Museums: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

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In the video, John Oliver discusses the history of museums and the controversy surrounding their ownership of looted artifacts from other countries. He argues that the British Museum should return the Benin bronzes to Nigeria, where they were originally from. He also discusses the issue of provenance and how it is often more interesting than the artist's promise.

  • 00:00:00 The British Museum is celebrated for its founding in 1759, which was the first national public Museum of the world.objects in the museum were based on the founding collection of Sir Han Sloan, a scholar, entrepreneur, and physician.
  • 00:05:00 John Oliver discusses the history of museums, highlighting the importance of connecting people from different cultures. He discusses the importance of the British Museum's holdings of Benin bronzes, which were looted from the palace of a king who was overthrown by the British military. The British Museum has refused to give the bronzes away, citing the British Museum Act of 1963. Oliver argues that the museum should reside in Nigeria, where the bronzes were originally from.
  • 00:10:00 The video discusses the controversy surrounding museums' ownership of looted artifacts from other countries. It points out that, under Solomon's law, the person who loves the baby best gets the baby. It also discusses the argument that museums are an open repository of the world's treasures, but that most collections are only displayed a tiny fraction of the time. Finally, the video points out that, in the United States, Native American artifacts are stored away in storage rooms at museums, while members of the east of Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe tribes are allowed to visit artifacts in storage at Chicago's Field Museum.
  • 00:15:00 In this one-hour episode of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," the host discusses the issue of museums and the objects they collect. He points out that many of these objects are not actually being used or displayed, instead being stored in the dark or in some cases being sold to private individuals or dealers before being auctioned off. The host also discusses the issue of provenance, or the full history of an object, and how it is often more interesting than the artist's promise. He notes that this is not always a problem, but in the case of some attempted auctions, such as the attempted sale of a thousand-year-old masterpiece for three million dollars, federal prosecutors intervened.
  • 00:20:00 In this John Oliver-led episode, the HBO host discusses how to avoid becoming a victim of art theft, highlighting the case of Kim Kardashian's fake Atelier Versace coffin. The episode also discusses the case of Deepak Shakia, a Nepalese dealer known for trafficking stolen antiquities.
  • 00:25:00 In the video, John Oliver discusses the issue of museums storing looted artifacts from other countries. He points out that this is a problem that has been ongoing for a long time, with museums only recently starting to address the issue. In his introduction, Kamel nanjiani introduces the idea of the payback museum, which would be a public museum that provides recourse to countries that have been plundered.
  • 00:30:00 In the video, John Oliver discusses how museums are often poorly maintained and how some of their prized possessions, like Gerald Ford's ribs, are kept in a storeroom. He points out that the rules for who can own a body part after death are unclear and that, as a result, many people are prevented from visiting their own museums.

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