Museums and Aesthetics

Are aesthetics part of the mission statement of a museum?

The arbitrary nature of deciding what exactly goes into a museum and then what gets displayed is the heart of this question. Certainly, historical cultural literacy is part of the agenda and has a sound reason for inclusion, but do aesthetics rate as well?

Imagine a carved fragment of a statue from ancient Greece and being overawed by the beauty, condition, craftsmanship and provenance of it. Then imagine a similar statue of lesser merit–same subject but just not as wonderful but the difference is that it is whole, not just a shard. The whole piece tells a greater story to most museum goers, but the beautiful fragment is what really sings. Which piece would you put on display?

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