Date of Graduation

Fall 12-11-2020

Document Access

Restricted Project/Capstone - USF access only

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Museum Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Museum Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Nathan Dennis


Museums have different types of collections in storage, ranging from education to conservation to orphaned objects. Some of these objects are removed from storage and displayed for the public, often through exhibitions. Orphaned objects are often referred to as “abandoned” because they have little to no provenance. Not having an origin story does not necessarily mean that objects were looted or stolen, but the concern is that displaying them would promote the illicit antiquities and artifacts trade. I argue that regardless of the orphaned objects’ potential past, they should be on display. Whether it be online or in person, the display is an opportunity to teach the public about different types of museum collections and reckon with any problematic histories. I also apply this theoretical idea to “universal museums,” specifically those that built the majority of their collections during the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries, where collections were often the products of colonialism or exploring new territories.

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