Museums and heritage have an odd connection. Although museums do preserve objects of historical significance they are often seen as detrimental in terms of heritage. By removing an object from its natural setting and separating it from its rightful owners a strong disconnect is created. A piece of their heritage is being taken away, but to some museums are one of the greatest methods of preserving and sharing noteworthy objects.
This view that museums are significant places in themselves may be slightly imperialist in nature seeing as many items housed by various museums, such as the British Museum, were obtained as countries were expanding and colonizing.
Propelling the idea that museums are beneficial is in itself beneficial. Museums increase tourism, which is often a key way countries generate revenue.
There is little incentive for a museum to return the items they display. As mentioned, the British Museum has a variety of items belonging to an assortment of different cultures. The museum holds a relief from Persepolis, the Rosetta Stone, and the Elgin Marbles, and there has been dispute over the museum holding these items. There have been various attempts to have these items returned to their rightful homes, and yet these items remain in the museum.
Although keeping these items in a museum and away from their rightful owners is detrimental to those who originally owned the items, it may be beneficial for the general public. Some items kept in museums today are seen as sacred by the cultures that own them, so if some of these items were not kept in museums there is a strong possibility that most of these items would not be available to the general public, and this is the biggest problem with the issue.
Museums inform the public about various cultures and their heritage. By removing items, you prevent the public from learning about these cultures.
Museums may be bad for specific groups and their heritage, but they may just be equally beneficial to the general public.