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The Art of Biocollections

  • Anne Hambro Alnæs

Abstract

This chapter examines and discusses certain similarities and differences between established national art collections and evolving public biobanks. Such a comparison has the merit of sharpening our awareness concerning the rights and duties pertaining between collectors and donors. Tracing the way in which some works of art have been acquired in the past, and considering more recent examples of bioprospecting, it becomes evident that collecting exists along a continuum from people’s altruistic donations, via deposits, to commercial acquisitions, as well as illicit appropriations hardly discernable from confiscation and theft. Comparing collections of biologicals with art galleries shows that analogies are polysemic and depend on being interpreted in line with some, but not with other connotations, if they are to add to our understanding. Both national art galleries and depositories of biologicals represent iconic and indexical representations of considerable value for future scientific research and as archives for posterity. It is up to future researchers to unlock the as yet unknowable information embedded in present biological depositories. This chapter aims at shedding light on which rules for preserving, dissolving, selling, or abandoning different kinds of collections should prevail. Analogies have a didactic potential, which at the same time carry normative implications.

Keywords

Bone Marrow Donor Symbolic Capital Donation After Cardiac Death Symbolic Violence National Gallery 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne Hambro Alnæs
    • 1
  1. 1.Section for Medical Ethics, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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