Onus// noun // one’s responsibility or duty

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) in New York is the world’s largest art museum and is home to over 2 million objects from around the world. Each object has entered into the Met through its own unique journey.

Curated by MA students from the University of Leeds, Onus exists to bring to the forefront five different ways objects have appeared in The Met’s art collection.

This online exhibition aims to spark conversation on the practice and morality of acquisition and claims of ownership, provoking discourse around how we display objects and the role/accountability museums play.

We must ask ourselves, in whose best interest is it to house stolen objects, objects from lost tribes and the descendants of enslaved people? And if we were to question ownership practice, what would be next?

The world is changing and we must change with it, we must tear down old practices birthed from the colonial era and reimagine new ones as architects of the future.

Come along and join us on a journey of questioning accountability and practices of
acquisition within the museum.

Visit the online exhibition

Onus// noun // one’s responsibility or duty is part of a wider series of exhibitions and projects undertaken by MA students from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies as part of an Interpretations course module.

Visit the exhibition.


Map indicating origins of objects in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art used in the ‘Onus’ online exhibition. Image edited from Johnson Climate Map of the World w- Physical Map, Tidal Map, Races and Declination – Geographicus, 1870. Alvin Jewett Johnson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.