The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Department of Museum Studies: Research Seminar Programme, 7th Nov 2007

Wednesday 7 November 1 p.m.
Lecture Room, 105 Princess Road East

Engage, Learn, Achieve: The impact of museum visits on the attainment of secondary school pupils in the East of England 2006 - 2007 (research by RCMG, the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries)

Dr Sheila Watson and Ms Ceri Jones, Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester
Research into museum learning has established that museums are sites that emotionally engage, inspire and encourage learning amongst secondary school pupils.

This paper by Sheila Watson, Jocelyn Dodd and Ceri Jones considers whether museums can make a difference to attainment in secondary schools when a piece of assessed work is linked to a museum visit?

Using case studies from the East of England, and drawing on previous research within RCMG this presentation will examine the challenges of working with museums offering a range of educational programmes and with pupils from a range of backgrounds and abilities. Both qualitative and quantitative methodology has been used to measure the pupil response to the museum visit. Comparisons with previously assessed pieces of work as well as the pupils’ own self assessment of their progress along with observations of visits all consider the impact on attainment of the museum visit.

Sheila Watson concise biography
Sheila taught history in various secondary schools before moving into museum education. She has considerable experience working in museums as an education officer and as a manager. As Area Museums Officer in Great Yarmouth in Norfolk she managed three museums and an art gallery, established a heritage partnership and led the redisplay of three museums including Time and Tide: the Museum of Great Yarmouth Life, short listed for the Gulbenkian Award. She has experience of working in regeneration programmes and successfully bid for, and managed, large externally funded projects. She joined the Department of Museum Studies in 2003. Her research interests include the way in which history in museums contributes to identity and how museums are spaces in which identities are made, controlled, reinforced and manipulated. She is also interested in the intangible and how the museum deals with concepts such as myth and memory.

Ceri Jones, Research Associate
Ceri Jones joined the Department of Museum Studies in September 2002 as a Research Assistant for the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries to support the piloting of the Generic Learning Outcomes developed by RCMG as part of MLA’s Inspiring Learning for All initiative.

Since then, Ceri has been part of the research team investigating diverse subjects such as cross-domain learning, the attitudes and perceptions of disabled people towards history, heritage and museums, and the social value of museums, archives and libraries, as well as being involved in large-scale evaluations for the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New(ish) Blog: Adventures in Collections Management

I've been meaning to blog about this for ages, and only just got around to it (having a 'catch-up' Sunday!). As part of her new job, Lynn of Im in Ur Museum Blogz, has recently started a new blog, Adventures in Collections Management. Essentially, it does what it says on the tin. She records the aspects of collection management she is working on and related issues as they arise, but what I particularly like is her weekly Whatzit feature. Check it out and see if you can work out what the mystery object is!

Conference Alert: The Legacies of Slavery & Emancipation

From H-Museum:

The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition is pleased to announce the following event:

The Legacies of Slavery and Emancipation: Jamaica in the Atlantic World Ninth Annual International Conference / GLC Fall Conference
Yale Center for British Art, , CT
November 1-3, 2007

Co-sponsored by The Gilder Lehrman Center and the Yale Center for British Art in conjunction with the exhibition "Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds."

The focus of this conference is one of the central themes of the exhibition: the unfinished legacy of Jamaican slavery, both for present-day Jamaica and the wider Atlantic world. Scholars from the UK, the US, and the West Indies, as well as visual artists, musicians, and film-makers will investigate a range of topics including labor, religion, and the legacies of slavery in Jamaica and Britain. Complementing these panels will be a series of break out sessions in the exhibition and the collections of the YCBA and other institutions at Yale in which the broader conceptual and historical issues debated during the conference can be brought to bear on the analysis of specific objects and images.

For more information about the conference, a complete schedule, and registration, please visit

All conference activities will be held at the YCBA, 1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT.

This conference is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

Dana L. Schaffer
Assistant Director
The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition
Yale University
PO Box 208206
New Haven, CT 06520-8206
Phone: 203-432-9238 ~ Fax: 203-432-6943

CFP: Beyond camps and forced labour

From H-Museum:


Beyond camps and forced labour: current international research on survivors of Nazi persecution.
Third international multidisciplinary conference
Imperial War Museum, London
7-9 January 2009

This conference is planned as a follow-up to the two successful conferences, which took place at the Imperial War Museum in London in 2003 and 2006. It will continue to build on areas previously investigated, and also open up new fields of academic enquiry.

The aim is to bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines who are engaged in research on all groups of survivors of Nazi persecution. These will include - but are not limited to - Jews, Gypsies and Slavonic people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Soviet prisoners of war, political dissidents, members of underground movements, the disabled, the so-called ‘racially impure’, and forced labourers. For the purpose of the conference, a ‘survivor’ is defined as anyone who suffered any form of persecution by the Nazis or their allies as a result of the Nazis’ racial, political, ideological or ethnic policies from 1933 to 1945, and who survived the Second World War.

The organisers welcome proposals, which focus on topics and themes of the ‘life after’, ranging from the experience of liberation to the trans-generational impact of persecution, individual and collective memory and consciousness, and questions of theory and methodology. We are also
interested in comparative papers that discuss the experience of victims of forced population transfers during the war and in the immediate post-war years, including the historiographical development from polemical and memoirist approaches to empirical, analytical, and critical studies.

Specific conference themes anticipated are:

• DPs in post-war Europe

• Reception and resettlement

• Survivors in Eastern Europe

• Exiles, émigrés and refugees in the reconstruction process

• Rescuers and liberators

• Child survivors

• Women survivors and gender issues

• Trials and justice

• Testimony and memory

• Film and photography

• Psychological approaches: trauma, amnesia, intergenerational transmission

• Educational issues

• Remembrance and memorials

• Museums and archives

The Advisory Board consists of: Dan Bar-On (Ben Gurion University of the Negev), Wolfgang Benz (Technical University Berlin), Gerhard Botz (University of Vienna), Helga Embacher (University of Salzburg), Evelyn Friedlander (Hidden Legacy Foundation, London), Atina Grossmann (Cooper Union, New York), Wolfgang Jacobmeyer (University of Münster), Yosefa Loshitzky (University of East London), Hanna Ulatowska (University of Texas at Dallas), Inge Weber-Newth (London Metropolitan University).

Please send an abstract of 200-250 words together with biographical background of about 50 words by 28 February 2008 to: Johannes-Dieter Steinert, email:

All proposals are subject to a review process.

Fees: No more than GBP135 for speakers. The fee includes admission to all panels and evening events, lunches, coffees and teas. Further information and registration details will be made available in 2008.

It is intended to publish the conference proceedings. The proceedings of the first conference have been published by Secolo Verlag, Osnabrück (ISBN 3-929979-73-x). The proceedings of the second conference are in press by Secolo Verlag as well. For further information please contact or

The conference is being organised by

Suzanne Bardgett, Imperial War Museum, London
David Cesarani, Royal Holloway, University of London
Jessica Reinisch, Birkbeck College London
Johannes-Dieter Steinert, University of Wolverhampton

CFP: London Journal of Tourism, Sport & Creative Industries

Sounds like there could be some scope for getting museum studies papers published here:

London Journal of Tourism, Sport and Creative Industries

The London Journal of Tourism, Sport and Creative Industries (LJTSCI) is a new on-line journal that seeks to publish articles on a variety of related topics encapsulating London's diversity and the nature of its local-global interactions. The journal addresses a broad subject field. While under the banner of tourism, sport and the creative industries it also includes, but is not restricted to, events, the arts – including music and dance - heritage, hospitality, advertising & communications, music media & entertainment.

The London Journal of Tourism, Sport and Creative Industries is presently making a general call for papers on a range of topics relating to the above themes. The journal has an inclusive editorial policy and accepts a wide range of research articles and notes on work-in-progress, discussion pieces, case studies, conceptual development articles.

The journal aims to be a meeting place for research and discussion on a wealth of topics that should appeal to scholars, practitioners, policy makers and general readers. Articles can include research, works-in progress, case studies, developments in theory, book reviews and general reviews contributing to the development of the subject field. We encourage submissions relating to these topics from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives; such as anthropology, management, economics, politics, history, sociology, psychology, cultural studies and marketing.

Please email abstracts and enquiries to the editor

Notes for contributors:

Research Articles, Research Notes, and Works-in-Progress

Manuscripts should be submitted to the editor via email through MS Word (2000 or later) to . Each manuscript should be in English, approximately 3000-4000 words in length (longer articles from more qualitative methods will be accepted up to 8000 words), prefaced with an abstract of no more than 200 words, and including up to 6 key words. The abstracts are compulsory for publication.

Manuscripts advancing theory will also be considered in this category.

Case Studies

Case studies should be submitted to the editor via email through MS Word (2000 or later) to . Case studies can be presented through a research format or be presented from a practitioner focus. The research format should include abstract, introduction, methodology, results and analysis and conclusions. The practitioner-focused articles should begin with an executive summary stating the primary focus of the case and discuss the results or outcomes achieved. Each manuscript should be in English approximately 2500-4000 words in length and prefaced with an abstract of no more than 200 words, and including up to 6 key words.

Book Reviews

Book reviews should provide full details to the publication and should be no longer than 1500 words. Please discuss the proposed review with the editor before submission, upon submission they should be sent to the editor via email through MS Word (2000 or later) to

Position & Discussion and Rejoinder Pieces

One of the aims of the journal is to encourage debate amongst scholars, practitioners, policy makers and general readers. Discussion pieces on relevant topics are most welcome. Manuscripts should be submitted to the editor via email through MS Word (2000 or later) to

Style of Manuscripts

Figures and tables should be at the end of the document and figures should also be included as jpeg or TIFF files. Manuscripts submitted (where possible/relevant) must follow the American Psychological Association (APA) style. A guide to the APA style can be accessed via (you will need a .pdf viewer to access this page ). Following these style guides can assist the editorial process.

Case studies, book reviews and discussion pieces may not rely heavily on external sources hence where references are used the above guidelines should be followed. Authors are responsible for providing full details on names, affiliation, corresponding authors and contact addresses with their submission.

Editorial Process

Upon submission the Editor will then distribute the manuscripts to two members of the editorial board for the review process. All papers submitted to the Journal will be put through the review process, no papers will be rejected outright. The review process is blind but consists of a 'light-touch' review system. The reviewers will inform the Editor of the status and relevance of the manuscript along the following categories;

Accepted as is
Acceptance pending on revisions

The Editor is responsible for making final edits to manuscripts, but if significant changes need to be made to manuscripts to follow the style guide the paper may be returned to the author for these changes to be made. Manuscripts submitted to the Journal should not be under the review process at any other journal or have been previously published.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What do Museum Studies PhDs look like?

On Wednesday, instead of our usual Research Seminar, we had a kind of PhD student surgery, where those of us who could make it, had a good chat about our research. That will be of very little interest to anyone outside our own little community ( if you are really that interested, you can find out more by reading our online profiles), but I thought it was a good opportunity to share a few more photographs of us all doing scholarly type things, as opposed to the more usual eating, museum 'crawling' or drinking alcohol. ;)

Viv does her bit to 'push' the new issue of Museological Review.

Magnus explains it all, while Kouros looks on.

Anna tells of trials and tribulations.

Mette gives us the Danish perspective.

Ceri and Mette don't normally look this serious!

Chulani, the Department 'newbie' presents her initial plans.

The Museum of Broken Relationships

The Museum of Broken Relationships is a travelling exhibition which originated in Croatia, but has recently opened in Berlin, and is, according to the BBC, causing quite a stir. I love the idea of a truly democratic exhibition like this. Ordinary objects, with extraordinary stories and strong emotions attached to them, donated by the public, to document the myriad of feelings which accompany the break up of a relationship - something we can all (except perhaps the very lucky, or very lonely) amongst us can empathise with. What a fantastic way of dealing with those objects which have become, or represent, something personally significant, but which we cannot bear to live with for the constant reminders of that lost love or torturous breakup they engender. I know I would have plenty of stuff to donate!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Museum of the Macabre

Let not it be said that The Attic shies away from the less pleasant aspects of human existence. As evidence of such, I offer up to our readers a brief article from Times Online, describing a visit to Thailand's Museum of Forensic Medicine, complete with photographs of several of the more grisly exhibits. I suggest that readers of a nervous disposition should probably give this a miss (I wish I had!).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Conference Alert/CFP: The Inclusive Museum

Forwarded by Mary Stevens - thanks Mary!

National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, the Netherlands, 8-11 June 2008

At this time of fundamental social change, what is the role of the museum, both as a creature of that change, and perhaps also as an agent of change? The International Conference on the Inclusive Museum is a place where museum practioners, researchers, thinkers and teachers can engage in discussion on the historic character and future shape of the museum. The key question of the Conference is 'How can the institution of the museum become more inclusive?'

As well as impressive line-up of international main speakers, the Conference will also include numerous paper, workshop and colloquium presentations by practitioners, teachers and researchers. We would particularly like to invite you to respond to the Conference Call-for-Papers. Presenters may choose to submit written papers for publication in the fully refereed International Journal of the Inclusive Museum. If you are unable to attend the Conference in person, virtual registrations are also available which allow you to submit a paper for refereeing and possible publication in this fully refereed academic Journal, as well as access to the electronic version of the Conference proceedings.

The deadline for the next round in the call for papers (a title and short abstract) is 8 November 2007. Proposals are reviewed within four weeks of submission. Full details of the Conference, including an online proposal submission form, are to be found at the Conference website -

We look forward to receiving your proposal and hope you will be able to
join us in Leiden in June 2008.

CFP: Material. Culture. Now

From Jim's weekly Job Desk email:

Call for Papers
Material. Culture. Now.

Winterthur, USA

Material. Culture. Now. Winterthur Museum & Country Estate
Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Center for Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware invites submissions for papers to be given at the Sixth Annual Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars.

Focus: The symposium provides graduate students and other emerging scholars with a venue for interdisciplinary dialogue relating to the study of material life and culture. Participants are free of chronological and topical restraints but are strongly encouraged to engage with contemporary issues pertaining to the study of objects and to give particular attention to their own use of objects, whether as evidence, within a theoretical discourse, or within a comparative context. Past symposia have included presenters from the fields of American Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, Consumer Studies, English, History, and the Histories of Art, Architecture, Design and Technology.

Format: The symposium will consist of nine presentations divided into three panels. Each presentation is limited to twenty minutes and each panel is followed by comments from established scholars in the field. There will be two morning sessions and one afternoon session, with breaks for discussion following each session and over lunch. Participants will also have the opportunity to tour Winterthur's unparalleled collection of early American decorative arts.

Submissions: The proposal should be no more than 300 words, and should clearly indicate both the topic and the critical approach taken. Preference will be given to papers that address contemporary issues in material culture studies and that are analytic rather than descriptive in nature. Send your proposal, along with a current c.v. (no more than two pages), to

Deadline: Proposals must be received by Monday, November 12th, 2007.

Speakers will be notified of the vetting committee's decision by early January 2008. Confirmed speakers will be asked to provide symposium organizers with digital images for use in publicity and are required to submit a final draft of their papers by February 25, 2008. Travel grants will be available for all speakers.

Book Review: New Museums and the Making of Culture by Kylie Message (2006)

A book review by one of our guest bloggers, Christa Lohman, follows. Christa is a recent graduate of the MA Museum Studies programme at the University of Leicester. Her research interests include examining the role that museum education plays in the development of self- and group-identity. Her research to date has focused on the role of outreach in community regeneration through work done at The National Gallery and Tate Modern.

Thanks Christa, for allowing The Attic to publish your review! N.B. To our readers: If there is a book you would like to review on The Attic, please do not hesitate to contact us.

* * *

Kylie Message. New Museums and the Making of Culture. Berg: Oxford and New York, 2006. 256 pp, 60 illustrations (b&w), bibliography, index. ISBN 9781845204549.
£55.00 (hardback); £19.99 (softback).

In this book, Kylie Message states that ‘…equality can only be achieved by the integration of diversity within all organizational levels of the museum…and [the museum should] seek engagement with all communities and individuals that constitute the nation in more practical terms.’ (Message: 2006, 183) This idea of practicality in the context of museums and their changing role within their society is a key issue for academics, government officials and museum practitioners alike. How do museums influence the making of cultures with respect to their communities and national governments? Is any discussion of postmodernism within cultural institutions purely rhetoric? Are museums developing a “dressed up” authoritarian voice to reflect the era of globalization? Are they still displaying what those in power (government and dominant cultures) want us to see, think and do?

This book does what any good museum exhibit should do - it makes us question what we have been told is the ‘truth’. Message questions the efficacy of the post-modern or ‘new museums’ that have been directly influenced by academia and government policies. Although academic rhetoric about the effectiveness of new modes of display and narratives in cultural institutions is vast, there has been little analysis of how these new museums are effectively changing the role of museums within their communities, if it all. This volume presents 8 chapters in which Message explores her view that the propagandistic techniques and nationalistic displays of the modern museum, that focused on social reform and nation-building, are still prevalent in the tenuously named ‘global museums’ that have been developed in the past quarter-century. Message uses iconic and controversial examples such as The Museum of Modern Art in New York City (MoMa), the banished International Freedom Center (IFC) at the World Trade Center site and The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa as well as smaller, ethnic museums to illustrate her examination of the global trend of traditional, didactic museums becoming ‘cultural centres’ for their local and global communities. Terms such as “community forum”, “dialogue” and “multicultural”, now increasingly prevalent in current museological discourse, are analysed thoroughly to examine how these ideas are being played out and causing tension within new museums.

The introduction and first chapter provide a quick, yet essential, background of the main theoretical concepts that have guided the study and development of museums. These chapters are clearly geared toward academics and although the language is at times laborious, it lays the groundwork for the museological theories which underpin Message’s research. The following 5 chapters explore these ideas through practical observations and descriptions of museum practice and the governments and cultures that influence it.

Chapter 2 looks at the use of architecture to develop a nonlinear, accessible exhibition space in new museums. Message suggests that modern architectural approaches may lead to superficial displays which continue to be hegemonic and modernist in nature. This use of architecture may be indicative of a shallow reading of how postmodernism can be realized within the museum. She uses the example of the new MOMA to demonstrate how museums that appear to be democratic and pluralistic can still reflect a singular universal narrative. What is particularly interesting in this chapter is the discussion of the commodification of culture which is roughly equated with ‘Americanization’ or ‘globalization’ trends in the economy and how this trend affects the architecture, display and amenities of the new museum.

Chapter 3 segues into an exploration of the economic, social and political aspects of globalization that are influencing how museums are interpreting and displaying their collections. Message’s main thesis is that globalization is simply a reframing of postcolonial thought. She questions the use of this current cultural, political and economic trend as providing a new theoretical background to exhibits that continue to convey the values of the affluent classes and serve as an important means of social reform which can be used by the state to educate the ‘masses’. In addition, she exposes the strong links that new museums and cultural centres still maintain with local and national governments and questions their ability to be truly post-modern in content if they are bound to the rules and regulations set up by dominant groups. Here she gives an historical background to the development of the modern museum and uses it to defend her view that the post-modern, globalized museum may just be a re-framing of postcolonial thought.

The main body of the book takes us through the tenacious real-life relationships between museums and the nations and diverse cultures they represent and serve. The author raises the question of whether or not museums are equipped to handle complex issues of interpreting and commemorating politically charged historical/current events. Two 9-11 exhibits are used to help define the components of the new museum or cultural centre as ‘a space between the realm of the state and the private sphere of its subjects or citizens where critical discussion of cultural and political matters can take place’ (Message 2006: 124) Through the examination of the spontaneous memorials and discussion that sprang from a national tragedy, she examines what components of display and interpretation can be considered to be essential when designing the exhibits of new museums. In this section she provides practical examples from museums in affected neighbourhoods, such as the Museum of Chinese in the Americas in Chinatown, New York, which served in the two pivotal roles that demonstrate what Message believes to be essential components of New Museums: firstly, they provided a space for communication and secondly, they have changing exhibition techniques to effectively represent a diverse public.

Chapter 5 turns the reader’s attention to the Pacific region by examining two eco-museums, or tribal museums: The Centre Culturel Tjibaou in New Caledonia and The National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, both of which aspire to post-modern strategies of representation and display in their mission statements. Here we see how regional and local politics can strongly influence the representation of cultures within a community. A discussion of the tensions between international and local political mandates, involving the appropriate political engagement of cultural institutions, serves as an interesting point to discuss how museums can effectively represent the unique cultures in their communities, while simultaneously representing a global perspective.

The historical, national and local perspectives of national and personal identity covered in this volume are deeply complex and interconnected. The ideas and practices questioned here are valuable for a variety of academic disciplines, as well as museum practitioners and city planners. However, the dense nature of the book can at times be overwhelming and it becomes a challenge to get inside the author’s mind and understand her thought processes and, more importantly, how they relate to the practice of museum exhibition and education. This leaves the reader with the feeling that this research could be more effectively translated to museum practice if organized in a less complex and more practical manner. However, it is perhaps a seemingly impossible task to simplify such politically and culturally charged issues as those presented here. This text provides a solid foundation for future research in this contested area of museum and cultural studies which may lead to a re-examination and re-defining of the term ‘new museum’. It leaves a gap open for more empirical research within these institutions that may help museum practitioners develop best practice techniques. A clearer focus on educational initiatives within museums and how their implementation can affect self/community identity may also prove necessary as more research is conducted.

Message states in her conclusion that “the discourses of the new museum—of access, democracy, the recognition of cultural diversity—might break with the museum’s traditional project of civic reform and succeed in offering an alternative and effective framework of cultural production and engagement.” (Message: 2006, 202) This volume will leave the reader questioning the next exhibit that they view. Who has funded it? What is it trying to convey? What influence will it have on the viewer? How will this influence be translated into the daily lives of its audience and how will it eventually play out in their social, economic and political communities? With this thorough and inquisitive research, Message is encouraging us to step back and analyze what these new museums are truly accomplishing. inspiring us to take the initiative to work through the rhetoric and develop museum practice that is truly inclusive and representative of our multicultural communities.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Research Seminar: Liz Carnegie - Catalysts for Change?

The Department of Museum Studies’ Research Seminar programme kicked off on the 10th October, with the welcome return of Liz Carnegie, from the University of Sheffield. Liz’s engaging seminar, Catalysts for Change? Museums of Religion Within Contemporary Society looked at the role of museums of religion in an ever changing world.

Her central question was, are museums catalysts for change, or do they follow society rather than lead it? Ultimately, Liz believes that museums of religion tend to reflect what is going on in wider society. But to illustrate her argument, Liz presented a couple of case studies drawn from the very limited number of museums of religion across the world (she estimated four in total): The Museum of the History of Religion in St Petersburg and the Museum of World Religion in Taiwan. Both have very different histories and are housed in very different locations, but both seek – through different ways – to present religion to a general audience.

The Museum of the History of Religion, St Petersburg was the museum which interested me most. Formerly the Museum of Atheism (it was founded in 1932), it is housed in the Orthodox Cathedral, at the museum’s inception, a secular place, but now restored as a site of worship. Its original interpretation cast religion as folk belief (unsurprisingly, given that it was created during the Soviet Union). But, while it once explored religion as a cultural phenomenon, it is now used by its audience as a museum of orthodoxy, in a cultural context of renewed interest in religion, and has become a locus for the reclamation of faith in the post-Soviet context.

In contrast, the Buddhist-run Museum of World Religion, Taiwan, is a new venture housed surprisingly (but, apparently not unusually in the Far East) in a shopping mall! Its aim is to present a multiplicity of religious choice in a pluralistic society, and as such it attempts to cover all world religions (unlike its Russian counterpart). It presents a very positive view of faith and doesn’t, according to Liz, deal with the ‘dark side’ of religion in any concerted way, unlike St Mungo’s in Glasgow. Liz has undertaken field work in this location and is beginning to formulate some conclusions with regards to visitors and their motivations for attending museums of religion.

Overall, Liz’s presentation was really interesting and prompted a lot of debate amongst the seminar attendees. University of Leicester, Museum Studies PhDs will be able to access a recording of her seminar, and the Q&A session that followed from Blackboard shortly.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Creative Practices: exhibition design and the collaborative process

From the Department of Museum Studies website:

Following the international success of Design as Interpretation 2007, in April 2008 the Department of Museum Studies will run its second Design Masterclass.

Creative Practices: exhibition design and the collaborative process
15-17 April 2008

The class will be delivered by Peter Higgins of Design Studio and Stephen Greenberg of metaphor.

More information will follow shortly. See the website for details.

Places are limited so book early.

Contact Barbara Lloyd on 0116 2523962 or email

Sunday, October 14, 2007

RCMG Disability Project

From a University of Leicester press release:

Museum to challenge stereotypes of disability

The Department of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester have devised a project to explore the stereotypical views connected with disability

Issued 09 October 2007

For the first time, objects and pictures connected with the lives of disabled people will be shown to the public in a project designed to challenge stereotypes and the ways in which visitors think about issues connected with disability.

Nine museums and art galleries from England and Scotland are in the vanguard of an innovative movement to challenge traditional perceptions of disability through a large-scale experimental project entitled Rethinking Disability Representation.

Rethinking Disability Representation, a £0.5m project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, NESTA and the University of Leicester, with contributions from the 9 museums involved, explores issues and ideas previously overlooked by the sector and in doing so aims to create a lasting change in the way museums portray disability.

Museums and galleries have many objects related to disability stored away. Until now, few have seen the light of day. Now nine museums will feature different experiences, images, objects and film related to disabled people and their lives. The project has been undertaken in collaboration with a ‘think tank’ of disabled activists and artists, cultural practitioners and representatives from the world of museums and art galleries who have shaped the ways in which the museums have interpreted this often neglected area.

Rethinking Disability Representation has been devised and managed by RCMG (the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries), based in the University of Leicester’s Department of Museum Studies.

By looking at the role museums and galleries might play in challenging negative stereotypical views connected with disability, the project aims to help visitors question taken for granted stereotypes while encouraging them to think critically about contemporary disability issues.

Earlier research carried out by the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries found that there was considerable uncertainty amongst curatorial staff concerning the representation of disabled people and the interpretation of disability related issues. Many were anxious about causing offence or distress and highlighted the need for assistance in moving forward in this neglected area. However, the project also found many museum curators willing to explore the hidden histories of disability through their collections, and to set up thought-provoking dialogues with their visitors.

Though each is unique in its way, the nine interpretative museum projects unite in their aim to eliminate the cultural invisibility of disabled people in traditional museum displays and to challenge negative and stereotypical perceptions of disabled people.

By equipping the nine partner museums with a fresh understanding of disability issues and contemporary disability politics, each have been able to develop and share ideas and examples of good practice. In so doing, they are gaining a new confidence in the ways disability issues can be approached and portrayed.

Jocelyn Dodd, Director of the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, commented: “This is an exciting and challenging journey of discovery for all of us involved in the project. Understanding the significance of museum collections in the context of this project has involved considerable rethinking through a different lens and has only been possible with the range of skills and expertise from the worlds of disability and museums working together creatively and with the grass roots involvement of disabled people who have helped shape individual projects.”

More details can be found by clicking here.

Talking about….Disabled People and Art (from October 2007) From examples amongst its collections of fine art featuring disabled people, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery questions disabled imagery in a series of thought provoking written and audio notes by disabled professionals and artists.

Beyond the Label (17th October 2007 – March 2008) Colchester Castle Museum challenges the stereotypes of current and historical perceptions of disability, through images, objects, written, oral and signed information.

Lives in Motion (18th October 2007 – January 2008) Glasgow Museum of Transport looks at the ways transport can enable but also how it can hinder lives and independent living through lack of access. The exhibition uses archive footage of transport protests calling for accessible transport and a wealth of objects and media which review transport and disability.

Conflict and Disability (from September 2007) The Imperial War Museum in London is running a series of seminars for secondary schools on disability issues related to conflict, including the homecoming of disabled service-men and women and the portrayal of political leaders’ impairments. The seminars will include historical and contemporary issues related to disability rights. .

I Stand Corrected (to November 2007) The Northamptonshire Museum and Art Gallery looks at fashion and footwear, including the design of orthopaedic shoes to question issues of identity, choice and control.

Behind the Shadow of Merrick (from November 2007) The Royal London Hospital Museum and Archives will draw on historical records of disabled people associated with the hospital, including Joseph Merrick, known as the ‘Elephant Man’.

Daniel Lambert – ‘An Exalted and convivial Mind’ (from September 2007) Stamford Museum reinterprets the fascinating story of Daniel Lambert (one of the largest men in England), who, after serving an apprenticeship with a Birmingham jeweller, returned to Leicester to take over from his father as Governor of the County Bridewell Prison. The exhibition looks at the ways difference can be exploited and misunderstood.

One in Four (Discovery Museum: People’s Gallery, 25th September – 18th November 2007) (South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, 15th December 2007 – 1st March 2008) The temporary display at Tyne and Wear Museums looks at the co-existence of independence and prejudice, and how society’s attitudes can affect the daily lives of disabled people.

A Whitby Fisherman’s Life – Stumper Dryden through the Lens of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (from August 2007) The Whitby Museum takes a photographic look at the 19th century fisherman Robert ‘Stumper’ Dryden, challenging contemporary views of life and work as a disabled person.

Notes to editors

For further information you can contact:

Debbie Jolly, Project Coordinator, RCMG 0116 252 3963 /

Jocelyn Dodd and Richard Sandell. Project Directors, 0116 252 3963 / /

International Heritage Retail Summit

From H-Museum:

National Portrait Gallery, London (UK)
4 & 5 December 2007

Join over 100 of your heritage retail colleagues at this year's eagerly awaited international heritage retail conference at the National Portrait Gallery. This year the focus will be on how heritage organisations can maximise their retail income while adding value to the visitor experience. The International Heritage Retail Summit brings together the biggest names in heritage retailing for a memorable two days in one of central London's most prestigous venues.

Some of the most successful UK museum and heritage retailers will be joined by prominent international speakers and guests to examine and discover how best to maximise retail income while adding extra value to the visitor experience. This is just a taster of what to expect:

DAY ONE - Tuesday 4th December

Session 1: How to Develop Your Retail Strategy This session shows you how you can learn more about your market and respond to it more effectively. It will take your through the steps required to devise an overall retail strategy that delivers real results and boosts sales quickly - vital to the success of your trading operation.

Session 2: Successful Retail Design & Management This session looks at how you can successfully manage and deliver new shop design and fit-outs and will include clever ideas on the refurbishment of existing spaces. Learn from best-practice case studies from leading museum retailers.

Session 3: Maximising Visitor Spend
This session tackles the task of maximising visitor spend head-on and will provide multiple answers including advice on generating extra income from temporary exhibitions, effective range planning, point-of-sale and staff training. All designed to increase your bottom line results.

DAY TWO - Wednesday 5th December

Session 4: Adding Value to the Visitor Experience This session looks at ways the retail experience can add real value to the overall visitor experience. Retail has never been more important to museums, galleries and heritage sites and retail professionals have the opportunity to make a huge contribution to the visitor experience.

Session 5: Ethical Trading
This session looks at the issues surrounding being an ethical and 'green' trading operation. It's a hot topic which has grown in importance over the last five years or so - both with retailers and customers. It demands examination and we'll be looking at what you can be doing.

Session 6: The Future of Museum Retailing This session will look forward to the next ten years in heritage retailing. What are the trading issues we will have to confront? How will the role of retail in museums and heritage sites change and evolve? What are the next big ideas? Find out and join the debate about your retail future.

Delegate fee for this two day conference is £497. To book, go to or email
Deadline: 1/12/07

Symposium: The Politics of Display

From H-ArtHist:

"The Politics of Display"
Symposium in Honor of Neil Harris, Preston and Sterling Morton Professor of History and Art History, The University of Chicago

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The symposium will explore aspects of American culture central to Professor Harris\' own scholarly interests. The symposium will be free but attendees must preregister.

Speakers will include Daniel Bluestone, University of Virginia; Michele H. Bogart, Stony Brook University; Annie Cohen-Solal, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales; Hanna Holborn Gray, University of Chicago; Thomas Hines, University of California, Los Angeles; Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, New York University; T. Jackson Lears, Rutgers University; Sally M. Promey, Yale University; and Nicholas Yablon, University of Iowa.

For further information, please contact

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Free museum entry pledge

A bit of good news. For visitors, at least.

Exhibition Review: Andy Warhol - Screen Tests, Silver Clouds & Time Capsules

Exhibition Review
By Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert

Andy Warhol, born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh of Czech immigrant parents, is firmly established as a major 20th-century artist and fittingly labelled the “Pope of Pop”. Marking the 20th anniversary of the artist’s death in New York in 1987, the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh is hosting a major exhibition of his work. I had the chance to attend the press pre-view of this exhibition, which interestingly attracted the biggest ever sponsorship of modern art in Scotland.

Even though the exhibition offers a superb retrospective of Warhol’s work and I have great respect for any artist that helped shape art history and redefine art philosophy, I admit that I sleepily passed by the notorious Brillo Boxes, his iconic Marilyns, Jackies and Elvises, even his Death and Disaster screenprint series. There are two main reasons for my apparent apathy. First, these iconic pieces are exhibited in various museums and I felt that I have been exposed to enough of them (e.x. the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; the Menil Collection in Houston; the Dia: Beacon in New York etc.). Second, their aesthetic value is exhausted easily and their shock of the new seems already gone.

Walking through famous piece after famous piece, I was struck by the image on a small TV screen - a four-minute, black and white 1965 silent film, called Screen Test, of Edie Sedgwick. Edie, beautifully hypnotic Edie. Edie was in most of Warhol’s films, became a style icon in the 60s, and helped Warhol emerge as a celebrity. The delicate but daring party doll with the heavy eye make-up, long earrings, and cigarette permanently burning on her lips was made for the spotlight. With her casual aloofness, Edie could pass as a second Audrey Hepburn, another Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Warhol proclaimed: “Edie was incredible on camera – just the way she moved…She was all energy – she didn’t know what to do with it when it came to living her life, but it was wonderful to film. The great stars are the ones who are doing something you can watch every second, even if it’s just a movement inside their eyes.” Warhol was absolutely right. The four-minute film in front of me was magnetizing, almost seductive. Unfortunately, Warhol was also right about Edie not knowing what to do with her energy in real life. The “Poor Little Rich Girl” (as Warhol named her in one of his films) spent a considerable inheritance in a few months and died at the age of 28 of drug abuse. I raised my camera to take a photo when a museum guard in plaid pants and a heavy Scottish accent warned me that the Screen Tests are the only artworks that can not be photographed due to their pending copywrite.

A few days later, on a transatlantic flight I had the chance to watch Edie again. The 2006 movie directed by George Hickenlooper Factory Girl follows her life from an innocent, wide-eyed art student to her abuse and final fall. The film highlights her relationship with Warhol and her affair with Bob Dylan. Even thought not an impressive movie, Factory Girl managed to re-create Warhol’s studio on 231 East 47th Street in New York which was known as the “Factory”. In one shot, Warhol is on the roof of his studio tying up some flowing balloons. These helium-filled silver balloons, called Silver Clouds (1966) are presented as an installation in the National Gallery. This was the press photographers’ favourite room. They were fingering the balloons and in response, they gracefully rose to the sun-lighten ceiling. Looking at the rising reflective substances through their viewfinders, they tried to capture their image with their cameras.

But the real reason for my visit was located in the basement. Warhol was a compulsive shopper and threw nothing out. When the time came to move studios from 33 Union Square to 860 Broadway in 1974, Warhol placed everything in cardboard boxes for the move. He saw this as an excellent way of documenting his life. He explained: “What you should do is get a box for a month, and drop everything in it and at the end of the month lock it up. Then date it and send it over to Jersey…I just drop everything into the same-size brown cardboard boxes that have a colour patch on the side for the month of the year. I really hate nostalgia, though, so deep down I hope they all get lost and I never have to look at them again.” At some point Warhol saw these boxes as a work of art, something that he even might consider selling, and named them Time Capsules. The National Gallery of Edinburgh is exhibiting the contents of 2 out of the 612 Time Capsules. They include correspondences, magazines, books, photographs, business files, cards, newspaper clippings and other. An artwork or not, the time capsules are still largely unexplored territory and are an excellent archival source for studying Warhol’s life and work.

A number of exhibitions celebrating Warhol’s work are currently on view or are coming up in different parts of the world (see exhibition box).

Note: This article was published in ARTERI magazine / Oct.07

Warhol - Current and Upcoming Exhibitions 2007/08

Warhol retrospective
The National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
August 4th 2007 – October 7th 2007

Warhol Disaster Prints
Museum Kampa, Prague, Czech Republic
July 19th, 2007 – October 21st, 2007

Silent Spring: Warhol’s Endangered Species and Vanishing Animals Works (MW)
Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ, U.S.A.
September 4th, 2007 – January 6th, 2008

Andy Warhol: Larger Than Life
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
October 4th, 2007 – January 2008

Warhol Retrospective
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
December, 2007 – March, 2008

The Art of Andy Warhol for Children
Kalamazoo Institute of Art, Kalamazoo, MI, U.S.A.
January 15, 2008 – April 15, 2008

The Prints of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)
The Brooks Museum, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A
June 13, 2008 – September 7, 2008

Silent Spring: Warhol’s Endangered Species and Vanishing Animals Works (MW)
Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
June, 2008 – August, 2008

Monday, October 08, 2007

Random review: HMS Belfast Museum, London

We only had a couple of hours to run round HMS Belfast in London and what follows is not the best review ever but I wanted to try and give you a flavour of the museum which is located inside an old warship. I did not have high hopes at first but as we went round I actually found myself enjoying the funny displays of life at sea.

Firstly I will get my chief moan out the way.... I HATE audio guides with a passion. Museums for me are about shared experiences and I'm sorry but audio guides totally kill any hope of that. In my experience people are too busy listening to talk. But there we are, moan over and done with now.
HMS Belfast does not really need a museum, it could just be the shell of the boat and that would be fascinating enough to wander around. Under the cabins and living spaces it is a grotto of dials, levels, pipes, engines, boilers, with seemingly no explicit reason for being there. I imagine it would be easy to get lost amongst such a place as this. Still the Imperial War Museum has taken the time to recreate life aboard the ship as a series of tableaux, some of which you can walk around and get up close to the (rather dodgy looking) models thus pretending that you are aboard with the crew. Still it was relatively empty considering in its heyday there would have been between 700-1000 men all sharing the little washrooms with their rows of silver handbasins.

I am always ambiguous about looking around museums essentially about war, it is often easy to get lyrical about the torpedoes on display quite forgetting that they are used to blow other ships to pieces. So I was not surprised that the idea of war was not questioned although the museum did concentrate on the human aspect of war and the experience of the men on board. Still, I am glad that I am not a sailor, I think I would go mad cooped up for so long despite the well stocked shop on board and the rum ration! And the thought that they had to do dental procedures and emergency operations whilst the ship was pitching and rolling about all over the place made me feel quite queasy.

So all in all it was worth it to see the ship alone and to appreciate how complex and confusing an organically (kind of) grown thing it is. At least it looks like some mad kind of organism below decks. I am not sure you really need a museum to convey this and the museum element certainly seemed more fun than serious or educational yet its appeal was that it did not take itself too seriously. And I had the guide book if I wanted something more serious (purchased in a moment of guilt after I asked for a student discount....)

The International Slavery Museum, Liverpool

A while ago now we mentioned on the blog that the International Museum of Slavery had opened in Liverpool, recieving very positive reviews. A couple of weekends ago I went along to the museum with my parents to see how the museum had tackled the sensitive and challenging subject - we were all hoping for good things having enjoyed the Maritime Museum in Liverpool many times previously. Rather than giving a blow by blow account of our visit I thought I would just list my main thoughts and feelings that came out of the couple of hours we spent there. We could have spent more time so I definitely recommend that you visit if you are ever in Liverpool.

The International Slavery Museum is located in the main museum complex in the Albert Docks on the third floor, a much better position then the former basement gallery which always made me feel a bit oppressed. Not that the new gallery is very welcoming; reaching the top of the stairs you are confronted with a stark layout with the gallery's mission statement in front of you and walls of TV screens that creates a discordant assault on the senses. We were at first completely baffled as to where we supposed to go until we realised that 'instructions' were on the TV screen to one side. So far, not so good and it set a pattern for the experience. My dad felt quite strongly that the exhibition lacked a strong narrative and although I could see what the museum was trying to do, I did agree with him. There was little attempt to question slavery in general which would have helped to provide a context into which Transatlantic slavery could be placed. Instead it launched straight into the African experience. Now I agree that it is one of the worst examples of slavery ever committed by one society over another and the exhibition was right to concentrate on that story... I guess they did not want to 'dilute' its power. However it would have been good to have more of an overview of sorts. And if there was I did not see it.

For me what the museum did well was to present transatlantic slavery in a thoughtful way using a variety of methods that should appeal to most ages. As an overview of the issues it was more than adequate and there was a wealth of material on display. Models helped to illustrate some concepts visually such as the model of a plantation. This conveyed to me how organised these places were - rather like the concentration camps in museums about the second world war it always strikes fear into me at how organised humans are at exploiting other human beings. Whole systems like the transatlantic slave trade have sprung up from relatively small beginnings and effectively justified inhumane practices for the sake of profit. Even if these practices were legal and accepted at the time - one reason why some people fail to see why such museums as this are useful - I fail to see how we can be neutral about them... like or not exploitation is a big part of our history and to ignore it would be ignoring that most societies are based on exploitation whether of humans, animals or the environment. Too harrowing for me however was a film at the centre of the room which attempted to recreate the conditions for slaves on a ship, all crushed together and treated like animals. Of course it was only a 'Hollywood-ised' sanitised version of a slave ship (no vomit, excrement, beatings etc) but it was still too voyeuristic for me and I could not bear to watch it for more than a second or two. I felt that the experience was already emotional enough without it being recreated for you visually but maybe that was just me.

History is brought it bang up to date by examining some of the legacy of the slave trade - rather crudely (perhaps) contrasted to the rest of the museum with the use of brighter colours, music and exhibits that focus on Black culture and icons. There was a thoughtful look at the less savoury legacies such as racism and continuing 'slavery' in the form of 'Third World' poverty and war. Plus plenty of space was provided for visitors to reflect on the issues raised, a nice touch.

I was interested how focusing on slavery brings a new perspective to local history. The exhibition brings into sharp relief the extent to which Liverpool's former glories are thanks to slavery, when it took over from Bristol in the eighteenth century. A list of street names and their link to the slave trading past was most illuminating because it conveyed how pervasive the profits from slavery had been. Rather like us now naming a street after Primark or another high street chain whose profits come from sweatshops, a modern form of slavery it could be argued... Still, the trouble with seeing history through one 'prism' as such means that the museum can be accused of telling one story but I think as neutral as you can be about the subject (these are human beings after all) the museum achieved a good balance.

What didn't I like so much? Well the overall presentation was not very user friendly at times and my poor dad could hardly read any of the text panels and so got very little from it. The use of interactives and jumbled display panels / images is pretty dated and there was nothing new here that made me think 'wow.' Also it was quite light on the human story, I found out relatively little about the abolition movement and did not connect in any way to the slaves who suffered, fought for and won their freedom, or the campaigners who helped them. It was therefore a curiously empty experience. Also conspicuous by its absence was the link between Social Darwism, eugenics and the segregation and discrimination against Black people which grew up partly as a justification of slavery and prejudice.
I expect that many people will hate this liberal hand-wringing because it is supposed to make us hate ourselves for the guilt but too be honest I did not think the museum was blaming anyone. It treats slavery as a complex subject and whilst this gives us no strong narrative (sorry dad) it does give a more accurate view of the situation. Whilst we cannot change the past we can change the future so that this does not happen again and I feel hopeful that museums such as this can help us to face difficult areas of the past and recognise them for what they were, an episode in our history which we accept but are not proud of. Slavery in that sense is as British as fish and chips... now wouldn't that be a good tagline for the museum?

Publications: Museological Review (Issue 12)

After a temporary hiatus of three years I am delighted to announce that Museological Review is back, returning with a special issue (12) which comprises the proceedings of the Material Culture, Identities and Social Inclusion conference held at the University of Leicester in February 2006.

A list of contents can be found on the Museological Review website. Copies may be ordered from the University of Leicester bookshop at £8 per issue, plus p&p. More details can be found here. N.B. Conference delegates will receive a free copy shortly (postal strikes permitting!).

Look out for the next issue (13) during Autumn 2007, which will coincide with Museological Review becoming an biannual, online journal.

Conference Alert: How to Design a World-Class Museum

From H-Museum:

National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
28 November 2007

Join a remarkable group of architects, designers and leading museum professionals at the museum design conference of the year. This is your exclusive opportunity to explore what it takes to design a world-class museum. We'll be looking in-depth at some of the most exciting museum projects in the world.

But world-class doesn't always have to mean very expensive. The ideas we'll be looking at are scalable and transferable and can be used to inform and inspire the thinking behind any museum project. We'll be looking at a whole host of ideas, including the options of creating a new museum from scratch, reinventing the whole concept of a museum within an existing institution, using an old building for a new purpose and successfully redeveloping and refurbishing the museum you have.

One of the major benefits of this conference is the exciting prospect of having so many of the most respected museum designers and professionals from the UK and overseas all in one room together.

Here is just a small selection of the wide range of museums we'll be looking at: The Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo; Museum Fur Volkerkunde in Leiden, the Netherlands; Tate Modern in London; Historic Jamestown in the United States; The New Museum of Liverpool; The Churchill Museum in London; The John Rylands Library Redevelopment in Manchester; Leeds City Museum; The National Media Museum, Bradford; Massar – The Children’s Discovery Centre in Damascus, Syria; Kelvingrove in Glasgow; and The Royal Ontario Museum in Canada.

Speakers include: Chris Pritchett – Partner, Austin-Smith:Lord Architects; Martyn Best – Director, Cultural Innovations; Phil Reed – Director, Churchill Museum; Steve Simons – Creative Director, Event Communications; Alisdair Hinshelwood – Director, Haley Sharpe Design; Frans Bevers & Lies Willers - Directors, OPERA Design, Amsterdam

Delegate fee for the one day conference is £297.

To register, go to for email
Deadline: 23/11/07

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Writing-up PhDs of the World Unite!

Writing-up your thesis? Join our brand new Facebook group, 'Writing-up PhDs of the World Unite!' for solidarity and mutual support.

The group is open and all are welcome (providing you are a genuine PhD engaged in writing-up your thesis of course!). Remember, we're all in it together! ;)

Conference Alert: Marketing in Museums

From H-Museum:

Marketing in Museums: Building Brand and Extending Audience Reach
National Academy Museum, New York City
18 October 2007

Keynote: Danielle Chidlow, Head of Communications, National Gallery, London

This conference will bring together experts from both sides of the Atlantic to help you define and expand your museum's brand to attract your key markets, as well as reaching out to new visitor segments. World-class museum professionals will provide case studies, strategic frameworks and help you brainstorm ideas for your brand strategy. Tips on how to work with and commission ad agencies, move from print media to digital technologies, and to effectively work with consultants and designers to get the most out of them while being true to your institution's goals will all be covered in the day's sessions.

Speakers will include:

Nancy Sanford, Chief Membership Marketing Officer, Metropolitan Museum of Art Allegra Burnette, Creative Director, New Media, Museum of Modern Art
Lisa Green, Director of Marketing and Design, Sterling and Francine Clark, Art Institute
Klaas van der Veur, Managing Director, Bitmove, Amsterdam
Danielle Chidlow, Head of Communications, National Gallery, London

New York City's National Academy Museum, in Museum Mile in Manhattan will be our base, and each day-long seminar will include eight speakers, lunch, afternoon tea, and a wine reception. To further extend your opportunity for networking, the final session of the afternoon will be a "surgery" where each speaker will be available at a separate table to consult with delegates about their own particular challenges and opportunities -- another chance to get real, hands-on advice that you can take back to your own institutions.

The one day conference costs $395 with a $100 discount for a colleague who attends with you. On the following day we will run a subsequent conference on Technology in Museums: Empowering the Visitor. (see separateannouncement) Delegates who come to both seminars pay only $495 for the two days.

To book, go to or email
Deadline: 12 Oct 2007

CFP: People and Their Objects

From H-Material Culture:

The Design Research Group are organising a one day conference on the relationships between people and their objects, to be hosted by the Faculty of Visual Culture, National College of Art and Design, Dublin on 14th February 2008.

The relationship between people and their objects is a complex and multifaceted one, which is continually negotiated between the material and the immaterial. Objects are used as tokens of affection, symbolic gestures and statements of devotion and can be represented, employed and appropriated in a multitude of ways. They carry out important roles in our relationships with each other, either as bearers of significance, or through embodiment, engagement or control. The seductive quality of objects can also mediate our relationships with them, as they engage our emotions in both subliminal and visceral ways. In doing so they facilitate the projection and subversion of identities, and the creation of the contexts in which they operate.

It is expected that selected papers will be collected in an edited anthology. Papers are invited to contribute towards thematic areas, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Mind – memory, nostalgia and symbolic value; collecting, hoarding and losing objects; objects and rites of passage; the representation of love of / in objects; objects and devotion

• Body – sex, desire and romance; wrapping, covering and wearing; kitsch and ironic objects; the queer and the camp; objects as tools in sustaining / subverting gender roles; objectification and commodification

• Environment – the role of objects in the construction and performance of identities and relationships in public / private spaces; green objects and sustainable design

• Networks – mediating, signifying and negotiating relationships, including the interpersonal, the group and the political

Papers should be of 20 minutes duration and abstracts of max. 300 words should be submitted by 16 November 2007 to:

Convened by the Design Research Group
Anna Moran
Sorcha O’Brien
Dr Ciáran Swan

Friday, October 05, 2007

Research Seminar: Liz Carnegie - Catalysts for Change?

The Department of Museum Studies Research Seminar Series 2007-8

The Museum Studies Research Seminar Series is a an informal 'Brown Bag' (bring a sandwich) group that meets at least once every two to four weeks, on Wednesdays at 1.00pm, in the Lecture Room at 105 Princess Road East (PRE) (University of Leicester). Museum Studies is an interdisciplinary field and all are welcome. Refreshments are served.

For further details, or to join the mailing list, please contact Viv Golding

Wednesday 10th October, 2007 at 1pm.

Liz Carnegie is currently lecturer in Leisure Management at Sheffield University. Previously, as a museum curator, she has developed a number of highly original and award winning exhibitions, including 'From Here to Maternity' and the displays of religious life at St Mungos in Glasgow. She has published widely in the field of museum studies and oral history and we are delighted to welcome her back to Leicester for the first of our Brown Bag Seminar Series 2007-8


The talk will be in the Dept of Museum Studies at 105 Princess Road East, on Wednesday 10th October, 2007 at 1pm.


How do religious concerns act as catalysts for change in considering the ownership, exhibition and care of religiously charged material? (Sullivan, 2001:550)

Despite the fact that religion has been one of the key defining factors of cultures there are very few museums which actually interpret multi faith in order that the museum then becomes a centre for 'social discourse' rather than passive viewing. This presentation will focus on two key contrasting case studies drawing on field work carried out in 2006 at the Museum of World Religions (MWR) Taiwan and the State Museum of the History of Religion, St Petersburg. The Museum of World Religions (MWR). Taiwan opened, in 2003, a decade after the St Mungo Museum of religious Life and Art which inspired it, with the key aim of 'being like a religious department store from which to chose one's faith' within a pluralist society, whilst the Museum of the History of Religion (formally the Museum of Atheism) dates from 1932, and was initially housed in the Kazan cathedral in St Petersburg. This presentation will determine what their role is and purpose in society as identity shapers and how are they perceived by tourist audiences: as museums or religious sites: spaces in which to explore spiritual feelings or simply part of the tourist trail?

A fuller biographical Review
from the website ( ).

Elizabeth Carnegie joined the Management School in 2005 as a lecturer in Leisure Management with particular responsibilities for arts and heritage management. She has considerable experience of the museums and galleries sector having worked as a curator of history with Glasgow Museums and participated in a number of high profile and award winning projects including setting up the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art (1993) and redisplaying the People's Palace in 1998. She was on the Interpretation Panel of the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art (1993) and subsequently became deputy director of North East Lincolnshire Museums Service prior to entering academia. She previously worked as a lecturer at Napier University where she was a founder member of the Centre for Festival and Event Management. Other teaching experience includes cultural studies courses for the University of the Highlands and Islands and on MBA/MSC programmes in Hong Kong.

Liz's research areas include museums and audiences and public memory, the role of the post-industrial museum, community festivals and events including Melas; religion and cultural identity and volunteer tourism including charity treks. She has been a committee member of the Oral History Society since 1996 having recently completed a stint as Reviews Editor for Oral History Journal and is on the editorial panel of Public History Review, Sydney. Elizabeth is currently researching the role of contemporary faith in society and the shaping of cultural and religious identities within diasporic communities.

Elizabeth is programme director of for the Arts and Heritage Management MA and her teaching interests include museums and heritage interpretation and management, cultural tourism, arts development and

Selected Recent Publications:

Carnegie, E, (forthcoming) `It wasn´t all bad´, representations of working class cultures within social history museums and their impacts on audiences, Museum and Society

Devereux, C., E Carnegie, (2006) `Pilgrimage: journeying beyond self´, Special Edition Wellness Tourism, Tourism Recreation Research, (Vol. 31, no1)

Smith, M., E. Carnegie, & M. Robertson (forthcoming) Juxtaposing the Timeless and the Ephemeral: Staging Festivals and Events at World Heritage Sites, World Heritage Sites, Leask, A,

Carnegie, E., M. Smith (forthcoming) `Mobility, Diaspora and the Hybridisation of Festivity: the case of the Edinburgh Mela, Scotland, Journeys of Expression: Tourism, Festivals and Identity, (eds.) Picard. D, M. Robinson, and P. Long,

Carnegie, E, (2004) Free Nelson Mandela? The politics and pricing of culture in society, in Cases in Revenue Management, (eds.) I Yeoman and U McMahon-Beattie,

Carnegie, E (2003) `She Was Aye Workin', Memories of Women's Lives in the Tenements, Co-authorship with Helen Clark, White Cockade, Oxford.

Friday Cat Blogging #6

Friday (Museum) Cat Blogging makes its return to The Attic with a cute little tale about the cats of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, as reported by the BBC. Sadly there's nothing about the museum moggies on the Hermitage website. They're missing a trick!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Workshop Series: Extreme Collecting

This looks great - I'm hoping to attend the first workshop in December. Anyone else up for that?


What are the acceptable boundaries for the practice of collecting? How can new strategies in collecting be implemented? Extreme Collecting explores the process of collecting that challenges the bounds of normally acceptable practice.

Through a series of four workshops Extreme Collecting aims to apply a critical approach
towards the rigidity of museums in maintaining essentially 19th century ideas to collecting and
move towards identifying priorities for collection policies in British museums that are inclusive of acquiring 'difficult' objects. Extreme Collecting may apply to the collection of
those objects supposedly so mundane and mass-produced as to appear uninteresting. Alternatively, it also applies to the collecting of objects that have physical characteristics – of
ephemeral substance, size and scale – that make it impossible to acquire and exhibit or are
prone to rapid decay. Sustainability of collections is a vital consideration in a world where
institutions are dominated by audit culture and by tick box compliance. Addressing these issues we may begin to plan for and manage the museum collections of the future.

A workshop series organised by University College London in cooperation with the British Museum, supported by the AHRC

Workshop Details:

Workshop 1: Extreme Collecting: Intellectual Foundations to 'Difficult' Objects
Friday, 14 December 2007, 1-6 pm

Workshop 2: Ethnography of the Ordinary
Thursday, 31 January 2008, 1-6 pm

Workshop 3: Scale, Size and the Ephemeral
Thursday, 28 February 2008, 1-6 pm

Workshop 4: Collecting and Source Communities
Monday, 31 March 2008, 1-6 pm


The workshops will take place at the British Museum, Sackler Room.


For registration and enquiries contact: There is no fee, but registration is required since attendance is limited to 40 participants for each workshop.

Project organisers:
Graeme Were (UCL), Jonathan King (British Museum), Robert Storrie (British Museum), Jan Geisbusch (UCL)