Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
[Via This Blog Sits At The]
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Material Worlds: A belated review of the conference at the University of Leicester, 15-17 December 2008
My interest in the conference was directed mainly to the ways in which museums create meanings for objects, how these are or might be contested, how audiences engage with objects and how objects can be intangible as well as tangible. I found that 15 minutes a paper was not always enough to sate my appetite but it presented me with many new avenues for exploration. A session on 'The real and unreal in museums' presented the themes of 'absence' and 'presence' and how these (seemingly) opposed ideas can be used to potent effect in the museum e.g. the absence of a mannequin in historic costume enables us to imagine the shape of the person who wore it; the absence of a body inside the uniform of a gulag convict invites interpretations that may be broader than the story of the human who once wore it. In the desire to appeal, museums might perhaps be too anxious to fill every space with an object or a story - such as the open-air museum with its 'haunted' house - instead of using absence to more radical, and perhaps spectacular, effect?
The tangibility of the museum object is something which really comes into question when looking at visitor engagement with objects, often because visitors are denied an interaction with objects except through the medium of sight. I shared the frustration of examples of students who wanted to touch objects at the V&A to get a feel for their touch, weight etc but having to do so from behind glass. It was not surprising therefore that where handling is permitted, visitors report that they feel more engaged with a topic, in one example, prehistory. A collection of posters created at the height of the British Empire and trade with the colonies prompted an interesting discussion about the differences between how audiences and museum staff respond to such a difficult and challenging subject. In this case the audience were able to make broad connections with the past and the present whilst the staff were much more institutionally focused and anxious as a result. The findings from research looking at audience reactions to the 2007 Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade was alarming in that certain visitors felt that they were being forced to feel guilt and shame over Britain's role in the Slave Trade and thus felt disengaged from the museum exhibitions that they had willingly gone to visit. It seemed important to me however to me that museums were creating such feelings in visitors; rather than giving them a cosy narrative of how Britain was wonderful because we 'abolished' slavery in 1807 they seemed to present a more complex picture. I look forward to seeing more results from this study in the future.
A final session on how objects and their meanings / uses in the museum might be contested saw museums (excuse my vulgar phrase) experience a bit of a bashing! It looked at the limitations of the 20 word label and how limited numbers of objects are supposed to speak for entire cultures (you can also extend this to historical periods and entire civilisations if you so wish). Alternatives to the 'norm' are silenced through convention or fear, ways of presenting objects that are seen as standard or traditional which often exclude more challenging or complex narratives for a more simple, recognisable alternative. There might also be political reasons, as in the display of material related to the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
So. Museums - what are they good for?
I suppose the conference made me despair a little about museums, probably not its intention. As the world seems to be enveloped in a large degree of trauma it makes me wonder why the way in which objects are presented in museums should be a matter for such minute concern. It speaks to me however of larger concerns, the difference to me between truth and an approximation of the truth which all too easily slips into everyday culture - the difference between myth and history for instance. History is 'dry' whilst myth is spiced with the thrill of what we want to happen in history, the difference between real life and Eastenders for instance. Perhaps if museums were more open about the choices that they have made in presenting material to the public it might begin to make more sense as to why particular narratives endure at the expense of others?
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Chris McCaw (American, born 1971)
Sunburned, GSP #166, Mohave/Winter Solstice (2007, gelatin silver print)
34.7 x 26.6 cm (13 11/16 x 10 1/2 in.)
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), 2008.386–.389 Purchase, Joyce F. Menschel Gift, 2008
Hanukkah lamp, 16th century Gilt bronze from Italy
Height 16.5 cm
Width 22 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum: M.419-1956, Dr. W. L. Hildburgh FSA Bequest
"Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights. It celebrates the victory of Judas Maccabeus over the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BC. This winter festival lasts eight days and an extra flame is lit for each night of the festival."
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
So an appeal of the film is that it taps into the apparently universal desire for trauma which makes life meaningful. Bella already has the divorced parents, the enforced move to a new school, an aloof Father and now she has the Vampire boyfriend to add to the list. The film also makes much of the idea that Bella constantly attracts a stream of bad events, some induced by her own actions. Like soap operas you wonder how so much can happen to one person whilst thinking that at least she has an interesting life... for what else is there to do in a small town except gaze wistfully at the mountains or into the amber eyes of your Vampire companion (of which there is a tedious amount).
As a story though the rest was pretty standard; the stoic, but somewhat misguided heroine who will do anything for her man, the cast of friends who are waiting in the wings to help her out (including here a Vampire family), random events of peril and a distant, aloof hero who is battling his own inner demons. Even despite all this awareness I was still completely entranced by this film, which makes me feel slightly tainted and dirty, rather perhaps like the Vampires when they welcome (a rather ungrateful) Bella, a human after all who tests their will power enormously, into their home and everything starts goes wrong as a result. What can I say except there is still a part of me that has never got past the teenage phase...
Like teenagers, Vampires think a lot of themselves and are obsessed with their own needs so like Lost Boys before it, this film is very cunning in bringing the two together. The adults are practically non-existent, boring and embarrassing. I am not sure what museums can learn from such blatant attempts to attract the teenagers like this; it is not exactly challenging nor is it subversive, suggesting that for all their posture most teenagers are actually very conservative, they just want to feel that things have been made especially for them and to cater exclusively for their desires. Museums in all their authority are perhaps too symbolic of the adult world, into which some teenagers don't want to enter just yet (and maybe some of us never want to at whatever age).
Friday, December 19, 2008
There's never been a better time to study with the Department of Museum Studies at Leicester. Our world-class reputation has been given a further boost in the recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) with the Department being rated as having the 'greatest cluster of world-leading researchers of any discipline in any university in the UK' https://securewebmail.le.ac.uk/owa/redir.aspx?C=fd3742d91e2c4846a2abca601eafeb1a&URL=http%3a%2f%2fnews.bbc.co.uk%2f1%2fhi%2feducation%2f7788718.stm . The University was also recently recognised as the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2008-9.
I would like to extend a warm invitation to you for our annual Open Day and Evening on **Wednesday 18 February 2009**. This event will give you the opportunity to get to know more about our courses, meet some of our staff, and explore our campus. Separate sessions are being organised for those interested in studying on campus, or by distance learning.
Full details of the event are available at http://www.le.ac.uk/ms/news/openday2009.html To book your place, simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org providing your name, the course(s) you are interested in, and stating whether you will be attending in the day or evening.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
For more info, see here.
BBC Education News, 'Many UK Researchers World Class'
UoL Press Release, 'Museum Studies Emerges as Britain's Top Research Department'
It's good to note that completed PhD research also contributes to the RAE.
Big gold star! By Larsz
DEPARTMENT SUCCESS IN THE RAE
If you ever doubted that Leicester was THE PLACE TO BE for museum studies, then think again! The latest Research Assessment Exercise (the outcomes of which have been published today) reveal that not only is the Department of Museum Studies Undertaking WORLD CLASS research, but it has, to cut a long story short, received the HIGHEST rating in ANY discipline in ANY institution in the WHOLE country!!!!! Basically,
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!!!! ;)
Congratulations to everyone involved!
For more info see here, here and here (with comments from Richard).
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
So, Material Worlds is over. My first conference paper is presented. My love-hate relationship with University Catering has been renewed. I've caught up with old friends and met new, always a joyful occurrence. My hopes for the Material Worlds blog were not fulfilled, but to be fair, the action-packed programme left little lee-way for 'panopic' (good word, eh?) blogging. But, while the conference is over, the blog will remain open and active, at least in the immediate future. Place your doubts and fears aside, seize the day and BLOG, dammit! We'll be gentle with you...honest. ;)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
JEWISH CULTURAL TREASURES IN EUROPE AFTER THE HOLOCAUST
RESTITUTION AND RELOCATION
24th and 25th of JANUARY 2009
JEWISH MUSEUM BERLIN
The Conference is part of the supporting program for the exhibition
»LOOTING AND RESTITUTION. JEWISH-OWNED CULTURAL ARTIFACTS FROM 1933 TO THE PRESENT«
SATURDAY, 24th of JANUARY 2009
PANEL I CONFRONTING LOOTING AND DESTRUCTION: NEW STRATEGIES
Inka Bertz, Jewish Museum Berlin
10:30 Reconstructing Jewish Cultural Landscapes –
The »Tentative Lists« Project
Elisabeth Gallas, Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and
Culture at Leipzig University
11:15 Hashavat Avedah: JCR, Inc. and the Rescue of
Heirless Jewish Cultural Property After WW II
Dana Herman, Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives,
12:00 Lunch Break
PANEL II GERMANY AND AUSTRIA
13:30 To Whom do the Jewish Cultural Treasures belong after 1945?
Conflict of Interests in the City of Frankfurt am Main
Katharina Rauschenberger, Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main
14:15 The situation in Berlin 1945–1953
15:00 Displaced on Three Continents.
The Fate of the Material Heritage of the Jewish Community in Vienna
Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Jewish Museum Vienna
15:45 Coffee Break
PANEL III EAST CENTRAL EUROPE I
16:15 What Happened in Prague?
Michaela Sidenberg, Jewish Museum in Prague
17:00 Dealing with the Jewish Cultural Assets in Post-War Poland
Nawojka Cieslinska-Lobkowicz, Art Historian and Provenance Researcher,
17:45 The Jewish Historical Institute as a Repository for Jewish
Cultural Treasures in Poland
SUNDAY, 25th of JANUARY 2009
PANEL IV WESTERN EUROPE
10:00 A Matter of Conscience? Legal and Moral Aspects of Dutch
Julie Marthe Cohen, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
10:45 The Fate of Jewish-Owned Cultural Treasures in Paris and in France
Laurence Sigal, Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, Paris
11:30 Looted Jewish Art and Cultural Properties in Italy.
The Difficult Restitution and Compensation after 1945
Paola Bertilotti, Sciences-Po, Paris / Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres
et Sciences Humaines, Lyon
12:15 Lunch Break
PANEL V EAST CENTRAL EUROPE II
13:45 Lviv 1944 – Now. Jewish Cultural Objects and Property. Some Cases
Tarik Cyril Amar, Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, Lviv
14:30 Restitution Issues in Post-War Romania
Hildrun Glass, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
15:15 »Disappeared?« The Fate of Jewish-Owned Cultural Artifacts in
Hungary after 1945
Eszter Gantner, ELTE University of Budapest – Center for Central
European German Jewish Culture
16:00 Final discussion: Open Questions, Ongoing Controversies
PLEASE REGISTER BY 15 JANUARY 2009
PHONE +49 (30) 25993 353
FAX +49 (30) 25993 330
JEWISH MUSEUM BERLIN
OLD BUILDING, 2ND LEVEL, CONCERT HALL
U1, U6 HALLESCHES TOR; U6 KOCHSTRASSE; BUS M 29, M 41, 248
Sunday, December 14, 2008
If you're attending the conference, please do pop by and say hello. I'm the one with the partially purple wonky hair, likely to be sporting some form of leopard print upon my person. ;)
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
The University of St Andrews Postgraduate Journal of Art History and Museum Studies
The annual journal that publishes original and innovative research by current postgraduate students from the UK and abroad seeks articles 1,500-4,000 words in length, written in English, for the 2009 publication.
Submission closing date: 14 February 2009
We invite papers from the disciplines of Art History and Museum Studies on any topic from all periods and geographic areas.
Attach submissions via email as a Word document: email@example.com
Or send to: Kate Groninger, Editor
School of Art History
University of St Andrews
9 The Scores
St Andrews KY16 9AR
Enquiries for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, December 11, 2008
A Christmas carol : in prose : being a ghost story of Christmas
Charles Dickens ; illustrator John Leech ; engraver W.J. Linton
London : Chapman & Hall ; 1843
National Art Library
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The conference will focus on three broad themes within the context of tourist experiences, namely: the social / anthropological meaning or significance of tourism (individual to societal); tourist demand and motivation; and, the analysis of tourist behaviours.
Further information (including a booking form) may be found at http://www.uclan.ac.uk/host/international-tourism-conference/index.htm
How The National Gallery of London Manages Image & Document Libraries
TIME: 4:00pm GMT
WHO: The National Gallery Head of Photography, Colin White
Find Out How The National Gallery:
§ Manages thousands of digital images and documents
§ Implements DAM best practices
§ Achieves ROI and plans for the future
Click to register
Join Colin at the end of the webcast for a live Q&A.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Manufactured in Hong Kong for F.W. Woolworth and Company Ltd.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Please read and respond to Simon Knell if you're interested in submitting a contribution.
Traditions and Transformations: Tourism, Heritage and Cultural Change in the Middle East and North Africa Region
4 - 7 April 2009, Amman, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
We are pleased to send you the link to a brochure for the above event which outlines the programme as it presently stands: http://www.tourism-culture.com/64/C-MENA/C-MENA%20brochure%20&%20registration%20form_final.pdf
We hope that you will agree that we have put together a fascinating conference which, as well as providing an important forum for research, also allows you to network with a truly international group of academics and professionals involved with tourism, culture and heritage. The conference will also allow delegates to see at first hand some of the issues being discussed in Jordan.
We would recommend that you register for the conference as soon as possible to avail yourself of the 'early bird' registration rate. The registration form can be downloaded at http://www.tourism-culture.com/64/C-MENA/C-MENA%20registration%20form(3).pdf
Please check on the conference web pages for updates - www.tourism-culture.com
For any enquiries please do not hesitate to contact us via email at email@example.com
MUSEUM STUDIES: STUDENT DAY
Thursday 29 January 2009
BP Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre
A day of talks by British Museum staff giving a behind-the-scenes insight into the running and organisation of an internationally-celebrated museum. Education, Marketing, Curatorial and Collections Management staff discuss museum theory and practice. Students wishing to broaden their knowledge of museums and the culture and heritage sector are welcome.
MUSEUM STUDIES: VOLUNTEER DAY
Friday 13 February 2009
Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre
British Museum staff and volunteers discuss the varied roles the volunteers have in the Museum, including assisting and working with curators, working on outreach and community projects, interpreting the collection through tours and object handling, and supporting the learning programme. Speakers will highlight the advantages of working with volunteers, the mutual benefits, diversity and best practice.
MUSEUM STUDIES: INTERPRETATION DAY
Thursday 19 March 2009
Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre
The British Museum's interpretation team give an introduction to the world of interpretation practice, and describe how this relatively new field is becoming integrated into the planning of new displays and public programmes. The day will feature sessions covering aspects of visitor studies, display development and text writing, using a current exhibition as a case study.
For full programmes visit, www.britishmuseum.org/learning/adult_learning
Admission for these events is free, however, booking in advance is advised. Booking may be done in person at the Box Office or by telephone at +44 (0)20 7323 8181. The Box Office is open every day from 10.00-16.45.
Six-foot Evergleam Christmas tree with 94 branches made by the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, c. 1966
Wisconsin Historical Society
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Ecce Ancilla Domini! (The Annunciation) 1849-50
Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882
Friday, November 28, 2008
When I read Peter Gathercole's essay, "The Fetishism of Artefacts," the first time, several years ago, I didn't really understand it. Sure, I got the Marxist undertone, the bitter cynicism, and his call for greater openness in the museum profession. But when I re-read it a few days ago, I realized just how much he was speaking from experience; and my own work experience in a collection echoed back at me through his words. Last night, Gathercole -- “To put the question more generally, are artefacts regarded by curators as basic to the existence of museums, or is it the knowledge concerning artefacts which is basic, the artefacts being merely illustrative of that knowledge?” -- came to mind again.
My colleague and I went to the house of a potential donor, a woman who over 35 years has amassed a vast collection of Victorian and Edwardian hat pins, hair jewelry, and brooches. Initially, the donor approached us to take the entire collection, which she estimated at over 300 pieces; for a variety of reasons, including the prohibitive appraisal costs of such a large quantity of small objects, we refused. However, she suggested that we could choose the items we wanted, and so, armed with a list of criteria, we went to her house to "shop" for artefacts.
Even in compiling the criteria, it became clear that objects were interchangeable, so long as they represented something; materials, condition, style all took precedence. We honestly didn't even consider provenance as a good enough reason for acquiring an object. Of course, a museum cannot take everything, which would be truly representative: the whole world might be a museum in that case, where every object had innate historic importance. But it was painful, looking at the treasures that this woman had collected, knowing that we had to choose a maximum of two dozen objects, and filter even further her own filters for her collecting activities.
The other thing that I realized last night was that many objects gain significance as part of a series: when we isolated particular pieces, they either looked too ordinary, or too extraordinary. To choose something "representative," to be a synecdoche for the whole, was difficult precisely because that was not how the original collection had been formed. Every item there gained meaning because it was similar to and yet different from every other item.
The next day, I am still torn. I can't be sure that we chose the pieces we did for the right reasons. After all, we already have hatpins in our collection, and they are in situ, in hats; these pieces, removed several times over from their original context, have been fetishized multiple times. And my own curatorial expertise has only served to obscure the objects even further.
So let's consider this my mea culpa. Forgive me, future museum audiences, for I have sinned. It has been 13 days since my last confession.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Greetings to everyone.
I have been to Oslo for NaMu last week. It was my first conference and my first visit to Nordic country as well. Well, I do not deny that was a crucial trigger point for me to be at NaMu. The conference and the city, both of them were wonderful. Actually it was more than wonderful. At NaMu, I met a couple of Leicester people-Sally and Allan who made me much more comfortable there. After meeting them, I felt that I’m not in enemy’s territory any more.
I was very impressed by three things at NaMu. First, I found that people at NaMu had a various backgrounds and interests. From objects to marketing, people covered almost everything I can imagine in the museum filed. Of course I found some scholars whose interests are similar with me. Some are from even profit sectors.
Second, I realized that there is museum booming in Eastern European countries. Well, I do not know which one is correct politically, Eastern Europe or central-eastern Europe, but it seems true that they are trying to create many national museums (many of them huge money projects). I know when one country gets independence, the first things they do are to make national universities and museums. They are doing same things now with help from EU, and it was a hot discussion how they present and interpret their history under the Soviet Union. Objects, voice of objects and something like that. I just heard that countries in South America experienced same situations some time ago. It was very interesting. (The next one would be China? Actually many projects are on-going now in China.)
Third, I saw many young people at NaMu! Except some organizers and experienced museum professionals, a lot of people looked very young like around 35. Many of them were at the end of their PhD journey. I was just happy to be there with them.
The first part of NaMu is over now. But there will be the second part of NaMu soon. Currently NaMu publication project is going on so if anyone who attended at NaMu before and is interested in publishing her/his article, you had better contact Simon Knell.
I brought my digital camera to Oslo but I could not take nice pictures. I couldn’t have much time to look around the city and I’m not that good at taking good looking photos. However, here I show some pictures of our hotel. Simon said that this is the nicest hotel in NaMu history.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
If anyone is interested there will be a bit in tonight's BBC2 Culture Show
There is also a wee preview here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cultureshow/Show at 10pm.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Histories of Misunderstanding
Second Annual UVa History Graduate Students Conference
Call for Papers
The Graduate History Students Association at the University of Virginia is happy to announce the second annual History Graduate Students Conference, to be held in Charlottesville, Virginia, on *April 18-19, 2009*.
Misunderstandings, misinterpretations, misconceptions, and miscalculations are an inseparable part of people's lives. Yet only rarely do historians pay special attention to these phenomena in the study of the past. This conference will provide a forum for graduate students of history and related fields at all levels to discuss misunderstandings in history.
Possible topics might include (but are not limited to) the following:
Miscommunications in Battle and in the Political Arena
(first contact between settlers and indigenous people, etc.)
The papers should address the problem of distinguishing between unintended misunderstandings and intentional manipulation and misrepresentation.
Keynote address by Prof. *Allan Megill*, University of Virginia
You are invited to submit paper proposals based on seminar papers, master's theses, or dissertation projects. Proposals should be no more than one page and include the scholar's name, e-mail address, the paper's title, and a short description of the proposed topic.
Paper proposals must be submitted by *December 5, 2008*.
If selected, participants will be asked to submit a final version of their paper (no more than 20 minutes) two weeks prior to the conference.
Submit abstracts and questions by email to Mike Caires (*firstname.lastname@example.org*).
Clare will talk about The Darwin Centre/Cocoon which has often featured in the news recently.
The Heritage Theater. The dynamics of cultural heritage in a globalizing world
Rotterdam Conference on Globalisation and Cultural Heritage
Erasmus University Rotterdam
May 13-15 2009
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, organizations for the preservation of heritage were founded as part of European national cultural policy, in countries colonized by the West, and in independent states outside Europe. In this sense, heritage institutions are early examples of cultural export on a global scale. The export of heritage concepts, heritage formats, and heritage knowledge from the West to other countries and vice versa is still going on, not only in traditional, well-tried ways, but also in other formats, like theme parks, games and internet sites. Similarly, in non-Western countries various other ways of protecting and presenting cultural heritage have developed over the last few decades. Institutions such as cultural centres and community centers displaying cultural heritage have no counterparts in Western countries. In the last decades, heritage institutions work together on a global scale. The perception of a shared past created new forms of cooperation between institutions in different nations and the legitimacy of traditional local museums was challenged by the migration of new, sometimes
transnational oriented communities.
The current interest in cultural heritage is also the result of the growing demand on the part of international tourism for places with a cultural heritage that can be experienced as part of leisure activities. All over the world, countries are beginning to realize the economic benefits of tourism, and searching for possibilities to expand tourism. Today, the interest in cultural heritage is global and diverse. Indeed, it is no longer correct to speak of a single audience, since cultural heritage visitors have different backgrounds and different expectations. The growing exchange of information between individual heritage institutions, and between those institutions and the public, is part of a global process that makes use of interconnected information networks.
The Department of Cultural Studies, Faculty of History and Arts, Erasmus University Rotterdam, is the location of two research programmes, 'Globalization and Cultural Heritage' and 'Community Museums Past & Present', funded by NWO (Dutch Science Foundation) and the Dutch VSB Foundation. See for more information http://www.fhk.eur.nl/english/globalisation_and_cultural_heritage/ and http://www.fhk.eur.nl/english/communitymuseums/
The first research project is now coming to an end, the latter will start at 01-01-09. To conclude the first and to launch the second project, the Department is planning an international conference on the effects and causes of globalization and cultural heritage, 'The Heritage Theater. The dynamics of cultural heritage in a globalizing world' at Rotterdam, May 13-15, 2009. Subthemes will be the impact of tourism and the internet on cultural heritage and the institutional arena.
We invite researchers on globalization and cultural heritage to send us abstracts for papers to present at this conference. Abstracts (max. 300 words)can be send until December 15, 2008, to email@example.com
For more information about this conference, please contact me:
Prof. Dr. Marlite Halbertsma
Faculty of History and Arts
Erasmus University Rotterdam
P.O. Box 1738
NL 3000 DR Rotterdam
tel. + 31 10 4082444
tel + 31 6 15126083
fax + 31 10 4089135
Saturday, November 22, 2008
CALL FOR PAPERS
California State University, Sacramento
Sixth Annual Festival of the Arts Art History Symposium
Symposium date: Saturday, March 21, 2009
Proposal deadline: January 16, 2009
We invite 300-word proposals for 20-minute lectures on the theme of "location and dislocation" in the history of art. The symposium is open to a wide range of historical and contemporary topics on the placement and displacement of artists, identities, artworks, texts, collections, and cultures. "Location" is broadly defined as geographic, temporal, racial, sexual, virtual, invented, or actual. We welcome proposals from historians and theorists of early modern, modern, and contemporary art of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas with research interests in architecture, design, visual culture, and cross-disciplinary studies.
Please email your proposal with a one-paragraph professional biography to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Elaine O'Brien, Art Department, California State University, Sacramento, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819-6061.
The Public Lives of Things
Seventh Annual Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars
Winterthur Museum & Country Estate
Saturday 25 April 2009
The Center for Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware invites submissions for papers to be given at the Seventh Annual Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars.
Focus: Supported in part by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for public engagement in the humanities, this year's symposium encourages graduate students and other emerging scholars to submit papers that align their object-based research with some aspect of its potential role in society at large. Within that context, we seek diversity in topics, chronology, and disciplinary approaches. Travel grants will be available for all presenters. Disciplines represented at past symposia include American studies, anthropology, archaeology, consumer studies, English, history, museum studies 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 behind the scenes at Winterthur's unparalleled collection of early American decorative arts.
Submissions: The proposal should be no more than 300 words and should clearly indicate the focus of your object-based research, the critical approach you take toward that research, and the significance of your research in the wider community. While the audience for the symposium consists mainly of university and college faculty and graduate students, we encourage broader participation. In evaluating proposals, we will give preference to those papers that keep that broader audience in mind. Send your proposal, along with a current c.v. (no more than two pages), to email@example.com
Deadline: Proposals must be received by 5 pm on Friday, 30 January 2009. Speakers will be notified of the vetting committee's decision by late February 2009. 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 16 March 2009.
Laura Walikainen, Department of History, University of Delaware.
Katie Wood, Department of Art History, University of Delaware.
The Seventh Annual Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars (MCSES)
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Greetings students. Like me I expect you are a student of life as well as the myriad of organisations that we pile into the descriptive bracket of the museum. Like me I expect that you are unduly concerned with the way in which our world is organised to bring only maximum misery to its unwitting inhabitants, everyday exhibited by those modern peddlers of doom and destruction the tabloids and broadsheets. I beg you to reconsider that you never step outside into the hateful reality in which we subsist everyday and instead fill your days with wonder and enlightenment, chiefly from the musical and philosophical arts. I find that every time I forget to follow this simple maxim I am only incredibly disappointed by what I find that I must retreat to my bed for several days with a severe headache for my pains. Such as it was after my visit to that infernal place they call London, a city where all the world's ills are magnified as if to a terrible cacophony, the squeaking and squealing masses of humanity crowding into the temples of fawning and... oh I have been informed that I must dispense with this lengthy introduction and so get to the point of this post which is to ruminate upon the recent visit of myself to the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Library, to take in two esteemed exhibitions and so acknowledge my thoughts to you in the manner of a review. I suppose I must and so let us commence.
Cold War Modern it has to be said did not assuage any of my fears about the narcissism and idiocy of those we deem fit to rule in our names. The premise rested on the contest between the USA and USSR to see who could best each other in presenting to the rest of the world (who watched events unfold in fear and perhaps disbelief that grown men could be so flagrant with their powerful toys) their vision of a utopian future, dragging their (mostly) brainwashed populations along with them. If the history of this hideous manifestation of the will to power was unpalatable to me, the interest of this exhibition lay in the myriad outputs from this titanic contest. I admired the quantity of objects amassed by the V&A that had been influenced by the competing attitudes of fear and revulsion, hope and optimism that the Cold War seemed to inspire in architects, artists, craftsmen, scientists and manufacturers. Although I do not generally admire the automobile for its capacity to destroy the very environment it claims for its freedom, I greatly coveted the appealing examples of German (I say proudly) design - the scooter which encased the driver in a protective bubble and the automobile of choice for East German dictators and bureaucrats. Sadly I cannot provide an image of these marvelous creations still, imagine a useful form of transport masquerading as a friend (bulbous eyes, a smile you can trust) and you might steer close to my feelings for these amazing creations.
There was much to take in and so my impressions can only be sketchy; although I am an interloper of time in this 21st century I was intrigued to see the debt of the postmodern (or is that post post modern, I am afraid my great mind is getting too kerfuddled to understand these modern definitions) world attributed by this exhibition to the Cold War. Simple plastic cups and saucers seemed to recall those designed by the great consumer giant IKEA. Furniture that cocooned the participant against the fear brought on by State posturising a welcome sight. That some of these future fantasies evoked an age where men would feel at home in ribbed stockings was not something I felt should have survived the nuclear fallout, let alone the Middle Ages. But then the visions of artists can be as ridiculous as they can be sublime and this exhibition visited well the suggestion that whilst the artists etc had their heads in the Utopian cloud, often their designs did not make it past the prototype stage. Perhaps there was a collective sigh of relief from some visitors (myself included) however the dreams of a few were strong enough to drag entire countries, whole peoples along with them.
I was made slightly less miserable to see that museums CAN have a sense of humour with the sign to the shop entrance replicating the famous sign when leaving the American sector in Berlin (we had a short discussion as to why in Germany after all the German language would be relegated to last on the sign but drew no sensible conclusions). It amazed me more however how much more attention was paid, by the young ladies in my group, to the consumables for sale in said museum shop than the objects in the exhibition. That noted, I thought it would be a tremendous wheeze if the curators would only stick tiny price labels on their objects and visitors would flock in their droves! Between you and myself I was rather enamoured of the secret camera that could be hidden in a leather briefcase, unfortunately they had not seen sense to replicate this in a format that could be placed on general sale. So I left the shop with a few postcards of the striking images from the exhibition to serve as a reminder that tyranny never goes away, it continues to exist if only in alternative forms.
It was fitting that after the prolonged exposure to such a thought-provoking exhibition, we repaired to an eating establishment for snacks and all manner of hot beverages. To make you jealous I have supplied a picture of the tasty fare below.
So ends my miserable opinion on the trip to London, I could expand at length on the second exhibition we visited at the British Library, however I fear that I have exhausted myself and I must now return to my bed for a prolonged period of rest and some musical comfort. And so I will bid you all adieu, in whatever part of this ill-formed world you belong.
Note: huge apologies are made for the potential inadequacy and offense that this review may cause, Schopenhauer is grumpy at the best of times
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Museum of World Cultures, Gothenburg, Sweden
3 December 2008
Museion invites you to participate in a meeting planned for Wednesday 3 December 2008 in the Museum of World Cultures, Gothenburg, Sweden relating to various aspects of Museum Ethics. While many of you will be familiar with the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums that generally reflects the principles accepted by the international museum community, there are still many areas of museum practice that require professionals to think much more deeply; there are some specific issues where the ICOM Code fails to provide sufficient detail because it sets only 'minimum standards'.
We have designed a day event which explores some specific ethical concerns, utilising experiences from within and outside Sweden. We have placed a focus on the ethical dilemmas that museums face in terms of dealing with problematical object (human remains;sacred objects); representation in exhibitions; environmental and sustainability concerns; and illicit trade. The programme is outlined in the attached document. You will note from the programme that we have included a 'workshop' session in order that all participants can make their views and opinions - and any new initiatives in dealing with ethical considerations - more widely known. Although most of the programme will be delivered in English, the workshop discussions can take place in Swedish. I do hope that you will be able to join us for what will be a fascinating day, and an opportunity to share experiences with a wide group of museum professionals in Sweden; if you know of colleagues who you feel may be interested in attending, please pass this information on to them.
On a practical note, Museion will provide teas and coffeee, but not lunch. However the Museum's restaurant 'Tabla' does good lunches, and we would be grateful if you could, in your reply to this e-mail, state whether you would like to eat at Tabla.
We hope that you will join us for this meeting. Could you please confirm your attendance by sending an e-mail to Staffan Lunden (Staffan.Lunden@museion.gu.se) no later than Thursday 20 November. We look forward to welcoming you to Museion on the 3 December 2008.
We look forward to an informative and productive day.
With good wishes,
Professor Peter Davis
Guest Professor of Museology
Box 111, SE 405 30
+46 (0)31 786 5815
SE 405 30 Sweden
Museum Forum Meeting - Wednesday 3 December 2008
10.00 Welcome and coffee
10.30 Introduction to the meeting
Peter Davis, Guest Professor, Museion
10.35 Museums and the ethics of human remains and sacred objects
Malcolm Chapman, The Manchester Museum, UK
In 2006 the Manchester Museum started development of a new Policy on Human Remains. Following on from an earlier successful consultation process around its Acquisition and Disposal Policy the museum decided to open up the draft policy to widespread public consultation. This allowed other museums, scientists, archaeologists, faith and community groups as well general museum visitors to express their views and contribute to the final policy. The consultation process ran for six months and elicited a wide range of strong opinions. What was unexpected was the response from some sectors of the scientific community who viewed the proposed policy as an attack on science itself.
Following on from this the Museum opened a temporary exhibition entitled Lindow Man: a bog body mystery. Content for the exhibition had been developed following a process of consultation with various interest groups. At the same time the Museum began a process of consultation with visitors regarding the display of Ancient Egyptian human remains.
This presentation examines the Museum's approach, the controversies arising from it and where the Museum goes from there in developing an ethical approach to the display and uses of ancient human remains and associated artefacts.
Malcolm Chapman has been Head of Collections Development and Registrar at The Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester since 2000. His wide-ranging role encompasses all aspects of collections management as well as improving and increasing user access to the collection, including new technologies and media such as YouTube. He is responsible for development and implementation of all collection-related policies including human remains and acquisition and disposal. Working regionally he sits on the Renaissance North West Collections For The Future Steering Group and chairs the Roman Heritage Working Group improving access to and use of the region's collections. He has a Masters degree in Art Gallery and Museum Studies from the University of Manchester and regularly lectures on this programme on topics ranging from human remains, policy development, collections management and digital heritage. Before working in Manchester he was at The British Museum for eleven years working in collections management, developing a collections management system and cataloguing medieval archaeology collections.
11.0 The ethics of representation in museum exhibitions: cases from the
Paula dos Santos, The Reinwardt Academie, Amsterdam
What does it mean for a museum to operate in an increasingly multicultural
and globalized city? Museums in large cities in the Netherlands, as in other
countries in Europe and worldwide, have to face the new dilemmas of the 21st
Century. Issues of cultural representation, gender representation, and
others, signal what Pierre Nora once referred to as 'the internal
decolonization of societies'. They can have a great impact in museum
practice and discourse, and are key elements in the discussions about
ethical conduct and decision-making in exhibitions.
In addressing this subject, one also finds the dilemmas of representation to
be intimately related to the actual discussions about the social role of
museums, to their responsibility towards different stakeholders, to issues
of accountability, authority and even authenticity.
This presentation explores this combination of societal context and museum's
social role as fundamental aspects for setting and conditioning principles
on which ethical decisions are taken. By means of two case studies from
museum exhibitions in the Netherlands, it will be possible to discuss issues
such as: are there limits for freedom of expression in art exhibitions? Is
it possible to balance the respect for the various stakeholders' beliefs and
expectations in an exhibition? How will museums cope with the different
principles of a multicultural, inclusive society and their political
Paula dos Santos teaches theoretical museology, sociomuseology and ethics at
the Reinwardt Academy of Cultural Heritage, Amsterdam. She is also project
co-ordinator for the Culturalia Foundation and advisor for heritage and
network-related projects in Portuguese speaking countries. She is a member
of the board of the Movement for a New Museology (MINOM).
11.45 Illicit antiquities, capitalism and sponsorship: ethical
Market demand for archaeological objects generates widespread looting and
destruction of archaeological sites around the world. This presentation of
the ethical considerations of this phenomena focuses on two case studies
where museums actively contributed to this destruction by legitimising the
trade in unprovenanced - that is, presumably looted - archaeological
The first case concerns the antiquities fair Grand Antiques held biannually
at Nordiska Museet, Stockholm. At this fair unprovenanced Chinese
archaeological objects are sold. The presentation will counter the museum's
reasons for allowing this fair in the museum. It appears that their
justification lies within a nationalistic agenda according to which the
museum needs only to be concerned about the protection of "Swedish" national
heritage. Seemingly the museum denies any responsibility for how its
activities may affect the heritage of "foreign" countries. Is this ethically
The second case which will be explored concerns a museum exhibition held at
the Palace Museum in Beijing in 2005. The exhibition, which was sponsored by
Volvo, displayed objects from the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in
Stockholm, the Röhsska Museum, Göteborg, the Göteborg City Museum, the
Göteborg Maritime Museum and a Gothenburg antiquities dealer,. The case is
of interest not only because of how these museums became involved in helping
a dealer in antiquities to promote his business, but also because it
provides a clear-cut example of the dangers of private sponsorship and of
how history can be manipulated. Through the exhibition Volvo sought to
create a particular vision of Chinese-Swedish relations in history in order
to promote the sale of its trucks on the Chinese market. This is a worst
case scenario, one where history is written - and museums manipulated - in
the board rooms of private companies to serve their commercial interests.
Both examples raise a number of questions regarding politics, power
relations, professional responsibility and museum ethics.
Staffan Lundén is a PhD. student at the Department of Archaeology and
History at Gothenburg University. He conducts research on the illicit trade
in antiquities and its relationship to museum ethics. He also teaches on the
Masters programme in International Museum Studies at Museion, Gothenburg
12.30 LUNCH (available at Tabla, Museum of World Culture, or at local
13.30 Environmental ethics and museums
Peter Davis, Museion, Gothenburg University
Sweden was in the vanguard of thinking about environmental issues, taking a
lead in organizing the first UN conference on the environment in Stockholm
in 1972. Since then the country has continued to promote sustainable
environmental solutions, and in 1999 the Swedish Parliament adopted 16
environmental quality objectives, and the 'Swedish Environmental Code' that
demands impact assessments for new development; these consider impacts not
only on humans, animals, soils, water and air, but also the cultural
environment. The goal is a sustainable society in which future generations
will be able to meet their needs at least as fully as present generations.
Despite these measures the latest review of progress (2008) made towards
achieving the environmental goals by 2020 - the target date - makes gloomy
reading. Nature's capacity for recovery, the ambitious nature of the
targets, globalization impacts on Swedish society and lack of implementation
of policies are all cited as reasons for the lack of progress. It appears
that although the environmental ethic is strong in Sweden, achieving goals
So how might Swedish museums assist in delivering, or react to, the 16 goals
- indeed, can they play any role at all? How might environmental ethics
impact on museum activities and could museums do more to operate in a
sustainable fashion? How have museums worldwide reacted to the demands of
the environmental ethic and are there models of good practice that we can
learn from? Can we promote environmentally sensitive actions in our
exhibitions and how might our organization respond ethically and practically
to environmental needs?
Peter Davis is Professor of Museology at the International Centre for
Cultural and Heritage Studies at Newcastle University, UK, and Guest
Professor at Museion, Göteborg University. He has worked as an ecologist and
as a biological curator, and has a particular interest in the ways museums
have responded to the demands of the environmental movement. He is the
author of Museums and the Natural Environment (1996) and Ecomuseums: a sense
of place (1999).
14.00 Working Group discussions - ethical issues in Swedish museums -
dealing with the challenges (*see additional sheet to find your group*).
15.30 Feedback from the working groups and discussion of the key issues
16.00 Meeting closes.
Symposium of the working group, Modern Materials in Collections: Scotland, in association with VARIE and ECA.
Material Matters: Materiality in Contemporary Art
20 November 2008, Edinburgh College of Art
How do you make, preserve and interpret contemporary art made with non-traditional materials? What are the challenges and how are they overcome by artists, conservators and curators? What are the implications and opportunities for art education in Scotland? These are the issues that will be discussed at a symposium organised by the Modern Materials in Collections: Scotland (MMiC:S) working group in collaboration with VARIE (Visual Arts Research Institute Edinburgh) Icon Scotland Group and ECA. The symposium will take place at Edinburgh College of Art on 20 November 2008.
Modern Materials in Collections: Scotland
Founded in 2006, MMiC:S promotes the collecting of modern materials and helps to build confidence, skills and best practice for the acquisition, display and preservation of contemporary objects and art. Following the success of last year's symposium on plastics in collections, this year's annual event will bring together those who make art and those who look after it to discuss materiality in contemporary art.
The morning will be given over to papers, with topics including the semantics of materials, the neglect of materiality in traditional art history, conservation challenges posed by non-traditional materials and the artistic production process. In the afternoon a number of break-out sessions will give an opportunity to explore some of these issues in more detail. Speakers confirmed for the symposium are: Daniel Herrmann and Jacqueline Ridge of National Galleries Scotland, Dr Petra Lange-Berndt of University College of London, Dr Erma Hermens and Rebecca Erdal of Glasgow University, Will MacLean MBE RSA and Glen Onwin RSA. The event will be recorded and we intend to make the presentations available to a wider audience.
Registration is available at £20 or £10 for students. To find out about the programme, view abstracts of presentations and to register, visit http://mmics.wordpress.com
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Anyway, you might want to check if a similar promotion is on in your area - it's a great deal!
Friday, November 14, 2008
On the way to the epicentre of preunification Berlin, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, Anna W and I mused upon the ethics of what we were doing. As students of museum studies we are aware, perhaps more than most, of the phenomenon of 'dark tourism,' a term coined by Foley and Lennon (2000) to describe the process - to give a very simple explanation - of visiting places associated with with death and destruction (it's more complex that that - predicated by the post-modern condition, global communications, commodification etc., but that's the general gist of it). Yet, we had to admit that we were still inexorably drawn to these places.
I guess I have a fairly legitimate excuse (if one is necessary). I am a member of the last generation to reach my teenage years under the spectre of the Cold War and have a clear memory of the lead-up to, and collapse of the Berlin Wall. I watched the events unfold live on television, and I can say with total certainty that those events (along with the Tian'anmen Square 'incident') led me to my current research. My academic interest thus absolves me of the dubious moniker 'dark tourist,' doesn't it?
A particularly troubling aspect for both Anna W and I was the question of whether it was ethical, even amoral, to take photographs of the remains of the Berlin Wall. We decided that we would (and did, as the photographs above testify). But we would not, as many tourists do, pose in front of it. This seemed like a good solution. We could satisfy our curiosity within the bounds of academic detachment and objectivity.
I cannot deny that I adore communist kitsch. I am fully aware of how this contradicts with what I've written above. I was keen to, as I put it to Anna Ch, 'get me some ostalgie.' Yet, when I did get there, the commodification of Berlin's troubled past repelled; it was largely exploitative and inappropriate. As a case in point I wish I had taken a photograph of the 'I love Checkpoint Charlie' merchandise in the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie which, incidentally, was in dire need of an interpretive revamp, in limbo between its pre and post-reunification existence (I may write more on this later), although its two shops were contemporary and consumer-aware. I was left unsure and unsettled, questioning my own academic and personal motivations.
Ultimately, after all this soul-searching, I gave in. I did take a photograph of the 'Two Annas' at the East Side Gallery. But I captured them mid-conversation, standing alongside the wall, not posing and smiling for the camera. We were there, but we were self-aware.