An interesting conversation the other day. I think I’ve mentioned Hubby and I don’t watch much network TV and prefer cable. Movies, BBC series, and the “Discover” family of channels are mostly it for us although we don’t have the streaming and we stay with HGTV, Food, Science, etc. One of the shows is “Dino Hunters” which is what it sounds like. There are a couple of different teams who look for fossils, but for profit, not academic/museum purposes. That led to the discussion about private collectors. I am a big believer in museums – public as often as possible for the sake of those who can’t afford entrance fees. We certainly don’t mind paying and of course make donations when we are in one that charges no or small fees. The fact is most museums that have been established for any length of time have far more in their collections than can be put on display. If they have the resources, they can have appropriate storage and research areas that can be jaw dropping at times in their scope. If, however, space is limited, they may have to turn down items or prioritize and divest certain items to take something in they consider more important.
That leads to the question of does a private collector “deprive” museums of something that should be on public display? No doubt that is true at times; which then leads to the question of how many dinosaur bones does a museum need? (since we’re talking about this show) I’ll agree if it is a species they don’t have, that might make a difference. If they already have a velociraptor – or two or three; why not let a private collector enjoy one if they have the space and money? I suppose the actual “downside” of private collectors is they may contribute to black marketing of artifacts instead of going to legitimate dealers.