London’s Wellcome Collection has shut down a 15-year-old exhibition of medical artefacts gathered by its American-born founder – including the death mask of Benjamin Disraeli and Florence Nightingale’s slippers – on the grounds that it was “racist, sexist and ableist”. Even more disturbing to the museum’s curators, says Melanie Phillips in The Times, is the fact that the collection was funded by a “wealthy white man in the Victorian era”. No mention of the fact that the benefactions of this despised wealthy white man fund half the medical research in the UK. Nor that last year, seven executives in Wellcome’s investment team were each paid between £1.9m and £7.9m.
The real target here is not medical artefacts but Western culture itself. And the curators’ mindset isn’t confined to a few fringe ideologues. It has spread beyond cultural institutions like museums, art galleries and universities to become the “enforceable orthodoxy” in corporations, banks, the civil service, the police, charities and churches. The politics professor Eric Kaufmann has found that people under 26 value identity politics above “freedom of speech, objective truth and attachment to the nation’s historical accomplishments”. Viewing Britain’s past as “some racist nightmare” is not, he warns, a “culture war sideshow”. It is an attack on “the very essence of British civilisation”.
🗿🏺 I’ve got an idea, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph, “a museum of museums”, containing all the artefacts previously displayed in other museums. When woke activists complain that these artefacts are racist, sexist and ableist, I’ll say: “Indeed they are. That’s exactly the point. My museum of museums stands as a vital reminder to the British public of how disgracefully problematic all this country’s museums were. Which is why I’ve called it The Unwellcome Collection.”