The Ethics of Exhibiting Salvaged Shipwrecks

The Ethics of Exhibiting Salvaged Shipwrecks

I published an article in Curator: The Museum Journal that came out in October, 2012 which explores the contentious relationship between cultural heritage professionals and commercial entities engaged in exploiting underwater archeological sites. More and more often, museums are drawn into this conflict through hosting traveling exhibitions. This article explores the ethical issues in two shipwreck exhibitions, Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds, and Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship, and the specific responses museums have made to address the ethical issues around commercial exploitation of cultural heritage. The article calls for museums to be more thoughtful and deliberate consumers, and embrace their potential as safe venues for exploring ethical dilemmas these sites embody. Unfortunately, it’s stuck behind a paywall, so you’ll have to find a copy on your own. Most big libraries should have a copy. If you get really stuck, send me a note and I’ll see what I can do.


Rodley, E. (2012). The Ethics of Exhibiting Salvaged Shipwrecks. Curator: The Museum Journal, 55(4), 383–391.