Anna Nadolska-Styczyńska: Missionary Museums - a Challenge and a Dilemma for Anthropologists


The article addresses missionary ethnographic collections, with particular emphasis on Polish museums. The article aims to present the works and profiles of such museums, considering their beginning and ideas that marked them. The author discusses the contemporary problems of this type of institutions, paying close attention to the specific nature of their collections. The questions posed by this research are whether these frequently and heavily criticized museums and collections have actually lost their raison d’être in the 21st century; whether they should be primarily associated with European colonial interference and the destruction of non-European cultures, as well as with outdated museology? The author further argues that they undoubtedly require a radical rethinking of their mission and character, but they are still in high demand, especially, for ethnographic comparative research and popularization of the idea of intercultural exchange.

[Poland, mission museums, Catholic missionary societies, museology]