Shane Ferro
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OBJECT LESSONS: Architecture & Design News

London’s Design Museum Cautiously Mines eBay for New Acquisitions

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As US Weekly would say, museums are “Just Like Us“ : they move, jam to electronic music, frequent garage sales, and now, apparently, shop on Ebay.

The Design Museum of London is reportedly adding to its more-than-3,000-piece permanent collection — which just over a year ago acquired “Space Invaders” (1978), well ahead of Paola Antonelli’s recently published video game wishlist — using the online auction house. They’re not just clicking away willy-nilly, however: London’s Museums Association frames the practice of Ebay acquisition as an “ethical debate” in which British Museum head of treasure and portable antiques Roger Bland warns of the dangers of “unprovenanced antiquities… many of which may be illicit” and “lack of transparency.” In 2004 Bland was a vocal advocate of stricter online policing following lootings of Iraq’s National Museum and various Mesopotamian archaeological sites following the American invasion. At his urging, eBay and the Metropolitan Police Services have been in collaboration against online fraud since 2005.

Through the donations of the Conran Foundation, the museum has built its collection over the course of 25 years to include the likes of Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK-47, the iMac, and the Sony Walkman, all slated for the top floor of the forthcoming OMA- and John Pawson-designed Kensington location. It should be noted that eBay works both ways, and deaccessioning via the Internet is also an ethical debate. Online Design Museum estate sale? We would be the first bidders for “Space Invaders.” [h/t Building Design]

— Janelle Zara

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