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I pretty much stated my views above, so no need to rehash them here. I think that Americans (and from what I hear, the Japanese) seem to have a sort of obsession with keeping things behind glass, in plastic, etc., and not handling them or using them. I'm always surprised to watch British documentaries about history--they'll frequently show the host going into a museum and just being handed precious artifacts to hold and touch. When you go to an American museum, you can't touch anything. Apparently France and Egypt now have the bug, too, refusing to let tourists go to the cave paintings or tombs and instead offering fake recreations. I do think you lose a big part of the experience that way; it's too sanitized.
I think you either think there's something special about the objects themselves (the "aura", as Benjamin would put it), or you think a recreation or virtual experience is sufficient. If you have the former view, then it IS important for people to get to touch and use the stuff, regardless of the risk of long-term or even short-term destruction. In other words, the value of the thing is in doing that; just looking at a photo of it will never suffice. Indeed, the thing will eventually lose all value since no one will be permitted to share it and thus spread word of its effects.
Imagine going to an art gallery to see the Mona Lisa, but instead there is only one of those digital frames with a high resolution photo up there. Would you be satisfied with that? I hope not. Yet that's what I see so many things turning to...A copy/reproduction is "good enough," let's keep the "original" behind glass/sealed away and never touched. That's just wrong in my opinion.
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