British Museum in row over Aboriginal shield ‘taken’ by Captain ...

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British Museum in row over Aboriginal shield ‘taken’ by Captain Cook

No mention is made of the violent incident during which the artefact was taken, activists say

Craig Simpson

The British Museum is embroiled in a row with Australian activists amid claims it has downplayed Captain Cook’s role in procuring an Aboriginal shield on display.

Activists criticised the institution for trying to “confuse” visitors about the origins of the artefact, claims which the museum has rejected.

The Gweagal Shield is one of 15 objects in a tour of items linked to colonialism, and was thought to have been taken from Botany Bay by Cook’s men in an encounter in which one indigenous person was shot and injured. Australian activist Rodney Kelly has pointed out that the new caption accompanying the shield makes no mention of this violent incident. He has also accused the British Museum of obscuring the object’s colonial symbolism by saying it was likely acquired by “a colonial governor or other collector” rather than as the result of confrontation...

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