Is this the solution for Moai's resting place?
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To fully understand the debate surrounding Moai, the monolithic statue created by Easter Island's Rapa Nui, it is important to understand the spiritual connection that it holds versus the need for its historic preservation. The British Museum, where Moai currently resides, is deemed a ‘world museum' that creates interpretive displays which provoke a historical reaction. The Governor of Easter Island, however, is challenging the museum's reasoning for keeping the statue, and is demanding the return of their icon. He subscribes to the belief that it was taken when the island was vulnerable, and the Rapa Nui were unable to voice their opinion – their rights wholly ignored. The argument heavily rests on the tradition that the stone maintains peace and harmony, despite the documented troubles the island faced prior to its removal. The museum maintains an ongoing discussion to solve the issue and protect the Moai whilst endeavouring to compromise with the Governor. Of course, objects displayed in museums often act as a story-board linking the past to modernity, creating an immediate response to its heritage. Their final resting place is shared by thousands of others; their form interpreted within carefully constructed galleries. Likewise, Moai was transported to the British Museum in 1869 at a time when the island suffered the effects of warring cults and declining population. Its safety was threatened as colonisation interfered with the island's heritage. The ‘eyes of their idols' were no longer protecting the island's shores. Acquisitions during this period were competitive and artefacts were offered as gifts for monarchs and leaders, often acting as proof of a country's cultural diversity to the wealthy. A mere prop, perhaps, as countries continued to expand their collections. Today the British Museum not only is freely accessible, but focuses on preserving and promoting the cultural origin. The expansion of new galleries, exhibitions and community projects reflect its cultural intentions and place in our society. However, the motives of the Victorian aristocracy greatly deviated from the curator's aims today.
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