At a time when nationalism grows more strident, the role of national museums assumes great importance. National museums encourage not only an understanding of national identity, but also patriotism. While this is natural, it has dangers in that the museum can be used politically to endorse racial and other charged emotions. The great international museums have provided an antidote to such tendencies by providing a universal view of the culture and natural history of the world from the earliest times. Because these museums have important material from other countries they are often attacked as odious relics of colonialism. Rather they should be seen as representative of internationalism and encouraged to collect as widely as possible within the law. They should not be pressurized into returning material to its country of origin for narrow nationalistic purposes. National museums should themselves collect outside their own national boundaries so that countries can see themselves against the background of other cultures. As nationalism grows, internationalism must be stressed in national museums so that countries may understand each others' culture and points of view.
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