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The Week’s Muse: 29 March

29 March 2014

How can art contribute to and shape national histories? This week in the Muse Room, our contributors have looked at the problems surrounding acquiring, creating, preserving and touring national treasures:

How should countries grow and use their national collections?

Essl Museum © 2012 by Frank Garzarolli

The Essl Museum in Austria

Maurice Davies questions the UK Government’s focus on enabling acquisitions rather than caring for existing collections. Austria may buy the private Essl Collection, to keep it together and to save jobs in Essl’s struggling company.

Pompeii’s forgotten frescos

Guiseppe Abbate’s drawing of the fresco.Hardly anybody was aware of the fresco that thieves stole from Pompeii’s House of Neptune, nor would they have been particularly impressed by it, notes Daisy Dunn. All the same, its disappearance has left yet another crack in the ancient site’s crumbling walls.

14-18 NOW: Commemoration and contemporary art

HMS Kildwick in dazzle camouflage. Two ships, the HMS President and the 'Edmund Gardner' in Liverpool, will be 'dazzled' this year as part of the cultural programme.New commissions for Britain’s 14-18 NOW First World War Centenary cultural programme have been announced. The programme will use visual art, music, literature and film to engage younger generations.

Compromised: The British Museum’s incomplete history of homosexuality

(detail; Roman, AD 5–15), Bittir (ancient Bethther), near Jerusalem. This cup, which is in the British Museum collection, has been on permanent display since its acquisition. Chinese artefacts depicting homosexual acts, however, were omitted from museum curator Richard Parkinson's book on the history of homosexuality in artThe British Museum isn’t afraid to challenge cultural taboos. So why did it omit Chinese artefacts from Richard Parkinson’s book, ‘A Little Gay History’? Another ethical issue for institutions pursuing international cultural exchange.