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.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Lost Daughters of Afrik: African Women and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Lost Daughters of Afrik: African Women and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Lecture by Dr Barbara Bush
Thursday 3 May
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
11.00 - 13.00

This lecture explores the experiences of African women on the West African coast, on board the slave ships, and on arrival in the Caribbean, including concubinage relationships with white men. The lecture critically analyses white representations of African women, including the 'sable Venus'. More broadly it considers the ways in which African women negotiated new, and deeply unequal, relationships with Europeans in the context of the profound - and traumatic - changes in their lives created by the transatlantic slave trade. Key themes are cultural continuities between Africa and the Caribbean, the dynamics of change during the Middle Passage, and the ways in which African women were forced to embrace new identities as slaves within the developing race/ gender orders that emerged with the expansion of the slave trade. The "Lost Daughter's of Afrik" - referred to sympathetically in a contemporary abolitionist poem - are the countless anonymous women slaves who made the journey of no return and are still remembered by their descendents in the African Diaspora. They experienced alienation and dislocation from kin and family but also demonstrated resilience and a capacity to resist and hold on to their personhood. Their odyssey to the Americas evokes sorrow but also the strength to resist enslavement and a desire to survive and to hold on to the cultural memory of Africa.

Barbara Bush is a Professor of Imperial History at Sheffield Hallam University. She has published widely on gender and culture in slave and post-slave societies and her most recent research has been in the area of imperial history. Her key publications include Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 1650-1838 (James Currey; Indiana University Press, 1990); Imperialism, Race and Resistance: Africa and Britain 1919-1945 (Routledge, 1999), ‘Gender and Empire: The Twentieth Century’ in Philippa Levine ed., Gender and Empire, Oxford History of the British Empire, Companion Series (2004) and, most recently, Imperialism and Postcolonialism (Pearson Education, 2006).

Lecture: £7.50/£5.50 conc. / 5 free student places
Bookings: 020 8312 8560

Helen Whiteoak
Adult Programmes Officer
Learning & Interpretation
National Maritime Museum
London SE10 9NF
T: 020 8312 6595

A swamp of turgid prose, a taste of what's to come. Oh brother.

Hey, my first post! Now I have to think of something to say. Well, let's start with who I am and what am I interested in - although this risks spoiling the unmitigated pleasure of my forthcoming presentation at the Research Week, wherein I will finally raise my head above the parapet, bite the bullet and, finding my cherry popped, tell those who can bear to stick around just what I'm doing - and believe me, a presentation from me is not far from listening to nails running down a blackboard. As you might divine from my prose so far. Sorry.

OK, back a couple of steps: me and what I'm doing. I'm looking into sustainability aspects of digital assets in museums, or at least that was how things started off. At the same time I develop websites and gallery applications at the Museum of London Group (including Museum in Docklands). My studentship is a three-way partnership between U.Leicester, Simulacra (fab software company in Winchester whose Andy Sawyer you may know) and MoL. Digital heritage, the general domain I'm working in, is cool by me because I get to blend geekery, day job, museological and philosophical interests and pretty much anything I like, being as it's such a new field you need to go a-magpieing (sp?) all over the place for material. Hey, that's something I can write about...but not yet, I'm keeping my powder dry a little longer. Enough to say that my most productive weeks have typically involved something along the lines of doing some project work at the museum, attending school governors' meetings, reading some neuropsychology and finding something interesting on OUseful (subject: virtual learning, roughly) Lorcan Dempsey's blog (digital libraries, primarily, but also archives and museums), 3pointD (virtual worlds and gaming) or O'Reilly Radar (geekery with an emphasis on open source and/or "Web 2.0"). I guess the rest of you may find yourself doing a similar thing, finding material in unexpected places, but it's one of the most stimulating aspects of this whole caper as far as I'm concerned.

I keep a blog myself that serves as a research diary so I'm going to grab, unedited, a few recent entries off it and you can let me know if anything grabs your attention:

Jeremy Keith on Identity and authority
Funny where stuff turns up. Jeremy Keith often has interesting things to say but I would not necessarily have expected him to talk about something that so directly hits a museological button - until, that is, I thought about it. After all, everything I've been writing for the last year has been observing and depending upon this sort of connection between disparate areas. So, Adactio talks about the problem of authority in the fragmented, distributed environment and I find I can use it almost without translation in the discussion I'm working on about museum authority and the impact of the web

Convergence of metaverse modelling tools
Obviously SL isn't the only player in town but it is nevertheless significant that it is moving towards making it possible to import and export from other environments: modelling tools like 3D Max or other virtual Second Life Build Tools Support More FormatsNot that I need to spell it out, but if this is the start of a pattern then we will see greater incentives and lower risks to museums (and everyone else) to invest in Second Life, or more fundamentally in virtual objects that might be used in such environments, and corresponding improvements in sustainability.
And why do I ALWAYS insert an unnecessary "e" in "environment"?

Virtually altered state
Nicholas Carr's posting Go ask Alice's avatar Those wild and crazy guys! This is one for the reality/VR/authenticity file.

Physical as metaphor for virtual!
Karen Schneider on the ALATechSource blog (
"The paper-based book is already a metaphor; books are now born in digital form"

CFP: New Museum, New Museology

Call for Papers

New Museum, New Museology
Savannah College of Art and Design Art History Symposium
Savannah, GA
April 3-5, 2008

The Savannah College of Art and Design will host its second biennial Art History Symposium. This year's event will explore the latest trends in museum studies.

Abstracts are invited in the following areas pertaining to the concept of the New Museum: exhibition, education, technology, environment, conservation, and cultural heritage.

Over the three days of this event a series of concurrent sessions and events will be presented, including the Friday evening keynote lecture (speaker t.b.a.). The college will provide tours of Savannah and of area museums and galleries.

Deadline For Abstract Submission: September 1, 2007.

Please follow this link for details regarding specific session themes and further instructions for submission:

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Web Round-up: Museum of the Battle of Ideas

For a little while now I've been meaning to do a round-up of interesting little snippets of information do to with museums and related issues which I've recently come across. Most are via Museum Anthropology.

First up is a review of the Museum of the Battle of Ideas in Cuba. As Michelle Tisdel Flikke reveals in her engaging essay, the Museum was set up by the Cuban government in the wake of the ideological battle with the US over the custody of Elian Gonzalez. What's interesting about this particular institution, is that it appears to be, not only a manifestation of the mythologising of history as a necessary component of the development of national heritage, but also that it is dealing with a fairly recent event. As discussions on this blog in the past have revealed, there is usually a time-lag between events happening and and them becoming part of the master narrative of nation. Often, in the case of war or revolution or occupation, a period of reflection appears to be necessary in order for the wrangling between various interest groups and different voices to reach some sort of dominant view which becomes historical 'fact'. However, here, it appears the Cuban government, unsurprisingly, pounced on the propaganda value of the incident almost immediately, immortalising their version of events in a museum (which as I'm sure we're all aware by now, seems to have the effect - outwardly at least - of objectifying history). But, what perhaps transcends this museum's most basic propagandist function, is the imaginative way in which the Gonzalez incident is tied to a much broader historical narrative of migration to and from Cuba from the nineteenth century. Not only that, the museum has become an epicentre for popular imaginings of nationhood, with thousands of artefacts donated from Cubans all around the world, many of which - according to Flikke - relate to the revolution and perceived acts of aggression on the Cuban people. The museum thus has become a site of remembrance, memorial (to Elian and his family) and a repository of ideas of Cuban identity and nationhood. Perhaps appropriately enough in this context, a museum of the people. Although as Flikke reveals, the absences and 'silences' in the overall narrative are profound.

Altogether the essay is, for me, a fascinating insight into the workings of museums and heritage in a communist state; an intriguing mix of stock socialist imagery (note the evocative sculpture of the boy casting away an imperialist doll), revolutionary propaganda versus what appears to be a genuine sense of ownership, identification and engagement with the museum and its themes by its audience.


...are not updating in the sidebar. I'm not sure why. Hopefully Blogger is onto it and it won't be long before it's fixed. In the meantime, I suggest you have a quick scroll down the posts, cos there's been quite a bit of discussion on a number of issues. :)

***UPDATE (29/04/07)***

Have given up on Blogger. Found a nice little hack online that returns a list of 20-odd comments, rather than just five like before (see the sidebar --->).

Debunking Myths

At the last Interpretation/Representation Research Group meeting we had a really good discussion about 'interpretation', and - in particular - the deconstruction of so-called scientific 'facts'. It reminded me of a really interesting blog, Say It Ain’t So, Joe: things you must unlearn before your die, which exists to debunk some of those historical, cultural and political myths which are accepted, erroneously, as fact.

Well worth a look.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Ortonesque: Joe Orton 1933-1967 and other exhibitions

This lunchtime I went for a quick spin round New Walk Museum with a colleague, principally to have a look at the Regeneration exhibition by the MA students. However this morphed into a visit to the current exhibition about Joe Orton, Leicester's "Playwright, novelist and Diarist" whose life scandalised contemporary society whilst delighting them with black comedies. The MA exhibition is tucked away behind the museum cafe in the corridor leading to the toilets (which created an interesting juxtaposition of smells) and is worth a visit to see what students can do on a modest budget and with determination.

Several things interested me about the Joe Orton exhibition. Firstly, what would Joe Orton, with his contempt for society and institutions, make of it all? After reading about how he used to go into libraries with his lover, Halliwell, to steal books, ripping out pages and altering the dust jackets, it struck me that he was the antithesis of a tidy, well displayed museum exhibition. I liked the way they used his own words in the interpretation and there was plenty of material to digest, which I have to be honest I did not read in its entirety so perhaps that is why I felt so curiously detached from the subject. The colours were very understated, lots of blues and greys which made it feel quite clinical in atmosphere, not helped by the silence in the gallery (such a contrast to the noise and life provided by the school groups downstairs!) That got me to thinking about how well we can experience someone's life through the medium of the museum. Can an array of exhibits, neatly labelled and presented in chronological order, really give us an insight into the mind of an individual? This was the theme that linked the exhibition, that Orton's life is directly linked to his literature and each explains the other. I am not sure that without reading any of his works I came close to understanding what drove him but it has made me think that I should go away and do just that.

Additionally, we had a very quick look at Face to Face, 30 amazing portraits of orphaned gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos. Proof that every animal has a unique set of features and the expressions were ... well the obvious thing is to say 'human-like' but that kind of suggests that we have to imbue animals with human qualities in order to understand them. Tne labels tell the story of each individual which makes for disturbing reading considering how we continue to treat such beautiful creatures and it made me feel sad, especially when confronted by the melancholic faces in many of the portraits.

Friday Cat Blogging #2

It's what you've been waiting all week for, Friday Catblogging!

This week I've planned something a little different, with the hope of assuaging those who think that a museum studies blog is not an appropriate place for photos of pussy-cats.

So this week the spotlight falls on the famous feline residents of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, many of whom are really quite special cats:
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is home to approximately sixty cats. Normal cats have five front toes and four back toes. About half of the cats at the museum are polydactyl, which means they have extra toes. Most cats have extra toes on their front feet and sometimes on their back feet as well. Sometimes it looks as if they are wearing mittens because they appear to have a thumb on their paw.

Ernest Hemingway was given a six-toed cat by a ship's captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat. Key West is a small island and it is possible that many of the cats on the island are related. Our cats are not a particular breed, but appear to be a combination of various breeds-sort of "Heinz 57" if you will. They are all shapes, sizes, colors and personalities. (From the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum website.)

Click on the pussy portraits on the website for a biography of each of the furry residents. Featured above are (left to right) the namesakes of Emily Dickinson, Spencer Tracy, and Simone de Beauvoir. Check out the museum giftshop for cat-themed souvenirs. The House Special Cat-nip anyone?!

Next week...the Moscow Cat Museum!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Got an MA in Museum Studies? Feel like a zombie?

Okay, I know it's not Friday yet, but I saw this on Lynn's blog and I just had to post a link. There is - in Lynn's words - a 'really provocative' post about Museum Studies courses and their graduates on Museum 2:0, which - I suspect - could engender a lot of debate!

The crux of the argument isn't new, but whenever I read or hear anyone casting doubt on the value or usefulness of museum studies qualifications I kind of feel like I've been punched in the stomach! Certainly, I wasn't v successful finding employment related to my MA in the four years between graduating and starting my PhD, but I would like to think that that had more to do with my unwillingness to relocate (though to be honest, I didn't - at that time - have a lot of choice in the matter) than anything else.

I have to admit, however, that during my job search I did on occasion run into a little bit of prejudice in some quarters of the museum profession (lets hope a dying breed - museum studies detractors I mean, not the museum profession per se!) against museum studies programmes, and museum studies graduates.

Would be interesting to hear what everyone else thinks about this issue.

Win tickets to see the Tate's summer exhibitions

Although phone-in and online competitions have been pretty much rubbished in the press of late, I am certain that this competition to win tickets to see all the major exhibitions at the Tate this Summer is bona fide. Information is from the MLA newsletter...

As part of Museums and Galleries Month 2007 a survey is being carried out. Two of the major strands of this year's Museums and Galleries Month are the theme People: Who Are We? and Night of the Museum. The survey asks which one person, featured in a UK museum or gallery, you would bring back to life as in this year's hit film 'Night at the Museum'.
It also asks which object you feel represents the identity of 2007, and which object you would bring back into everyday use?
You will also be entered into a prize draw to win tickets to all of the major exhibitions at Tate this summer - Dalí & Film, Hélio Oiticica and How We Are: Photographing Britain.
To complete the survey, please visit:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Amazing Grace (another in a series of random film reviews)

As we reported a few weeks back on this very blog, Amazing Grace is the story of William Wilberforce, the man deemed instrumental in the abolition of slavery. It received pretty lacklustre reviews so when I went to see it last night with a group of us from Museum Studies I was not expecting very much. However I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did enjoy it. Opinion on the film was split amongst us incidentally, which was not surprising because I felt that the film was quite subtle in its approach. And that subtlety meant that much of the film's subtext could easily be overlooked.

For me, this film was clearly a study of Wilberforce rather than the abolition of slavery per se. The huge cast of characters were therefore incidental to him (played ably, if rather flatly, by Ioan Gruffudd) and I found myself wanting to go and read up on all the fascinating characters we are briefly introduced to. As with all period dramas it was difficult to establish who everyone was as they all looked very similar in their wigs, so it was a relief to see that the 'abolitionists' were more quirky in their appearance, for example Thomas Clarkson played by Rufus Sewell looked like a drowned rat for most of the film until he sensibly chopped off his greasy, lank locks off to appear more respectable for Parliament. They also counted women and a former slave, Oloudaqh Equiano, played with great dignity by singer Youssou N'Dour (chiefly remembered for his song '7 seconds' with Neneh Cherry) amongst their numbers, in stark contrast to Parliament who were chiefly, um, men in powdered wigs, and lots of them. I felt that very few of the actors were chosen for their looks, which makes a change surely in this day and age. However... Ioan Gruffudd was clearly more attractive than Wilberforce in reality despite their best attempts to make him look haggard. And his love interest, Barbara (Romola Garai) came across so smug and pompous in her embracing of political activism that how the love between them developed was completely lost on me.

With the focus on Wilberforce and his struggle to come to terms with his need to fight for good causes at the same time as desiring a quieter life of contemplation, you would have thought the film would enable you to really understand his motivation. However this was the weakest part of the film for me. I never felt that I truly understood why he was so devoted to ending the slave trade and why he was so passionate. This was possibly because we were introduced to him when he had lost his 'faith' or because the acting was not as convincing as it could be. Even so, I liked the contrast between Wilberforce and his friend William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch) who was to become Britain's youngest ever Prime Minister. The latter motivated by power, so much that he was prepared to silence his friend to retain his support from the King, and the former motivated by... well it was supposed to be a higher calling I suppose but again the weakness of the film in explaining Wilberforce's motives makes this rather flat.

I suppose we need to see Wilberforce in the context of his times. For me the 18th century was an amazing period. One of manners and fine clothes and achingly boring social conventions and mores... but at the same time one of debauchery, gambling, drug taking, sexual diseases and of course revolutionary ferment. There are any number of amazing characters to step forward from this time including Lord Byron, Mary Wollstonecraft, Rousseau, Shelley, Keats... great philosophers, thinkers and poets. Many of them young men of fortune who found that they desired more than the comfortable life that their station in life afforded them and often, proceeded to go on what can only be described as self-destructive benders in the midst of which they attempted to forge either a new life or vision of how they wanted the world to be. Even Wilberforce, son of a wealthy merchant from Hull, was prone to excesses of drinking and gambling until he found his more noble cause to follow. The film was subtle in its portrayal of this aspect of his character; however I liked the way it created the atmosphere of the times without making a huge song and dance about it. The film began with rain, rather than the more usual chintz and prettiness; there was mud and disabled beggars and prostitutes hanging about the streets. Still there were a couple of heaving bosoms and horse riding scenes which no period drama can be without. There were allusions to the war with France, the French Revolution and the threat that the upper classes of society felt as they feared 'sedition' would spread to England. There was the war with America. It was a time of ferment and I feel that this was accurately portrayed as being in the background, rather than experienced on a daily basis by any of the characters.

And this is where the greatest strength of the film, conversely, lay for me. It has been criticised for keeping slavery in the background, for not depicting it. But this was how Wilberforce experienced it. He was fighting for a cause which he had knowledge of through the testimonials of others, through seeing the slave ships and from the evidence collected by his friends. And I feel that most viewers can relate to this immediately. Like slavery in the modern world it is not something we know at first hand. We read about it through newspapers and programmes on TV; this is an issue far from our daily lives. This film reminds us that such horror and injustice still dwells in the background, perhaps unnoticed if not for people like Wilberforce who draw our attention to it. Perhaps some will despise this do-gooding message because it reminds us that a comfortable life often comes at a price. However it fits in with my view of the world - that we can change things if the will to know and to act is there. It also gives hope in the collective will - Wilberforce would not have succeeded if it had not been for the help of his friends and mentors. Of course, there are other issues which spoil this positive, life-affirming message including the cynicism/power of politics which means devious methods must be employed at times to get the message across. It is quite a modern film in that respect... even good men must stoop to devious means to win sometimes.

So overall I felt this film was much better than I had hoped and Wilberforce was not quite the Hollywood stereotype of the 'great man' which I had feared. They did not quite convince me why he was so devoted to the cause but it left me with a desire to find out more about him and maybe explore that for myself.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Museums and Social Software

I know I threatened not to blog for a week yesterday - and I fully intend not to - but this is just a quick post to alert you all to a little bit of PhD student success.

Lena Maculan has had a short article about the potential for social software in the museum environment posted on the Digital Heritage blog, which is - incidentally - administrated by Dr. Kostas Arvanitis, lecturer in Museology at the University of Manchester, recent escapee...ahem...I mean graduate of the PhD programme at our own fair Department of Museum Studies, sometime Attic 'commenter', oh and the man to whom we owe the moniker, The Attic. ;)

Good for you Lena (and Kostas)!

Addressing audience needs on a capital project

The Capital Projects Network group are arranging a one day seminar that will look at 'Addressing Audience needs on a Capital Project'.

This event will take place on Friday 18 May at the Weston Park Museum, Sheffield. Please see agenda attached above.

If you would like to attend the above seminar and would like to book a place, please could you contact Helen Thomas either via email at, or by phone on 0113 262 4466.

Capital Projects Network group
Weston Park Museum
Addressing audience needs on a capital project
Friday 18th May
Seminar outline

Seminar aims:
To discuss ways of identifying the needs of audiences in order that they can be addressed
To identify ways of involving audiences in a museum / gallery development project
To discuss how an effective dialogue can be established with the design team in order that audience needs are addressed
To explore the opportunities and issues that arise with particular audience groups

Seminar programme:

10.00am Registration and tea / coffee

10.15 am Introductions and purpose

10.20am Speaker 1: An overview of Weston Park Museum project

10.40am Speaker 2: Identifying audiences needs on Weston Park Museum project through research and consultation

11.00am Speaker 3: Examples of audience involvement in Weston Park Museum project

11.20am Questions and discussion, identifying points for follow up in afternoon
11.30am Look around Weston Park Museum (optional - museum staff available to lead tours)

12.30pm Lunch (provided – buffet) and more time to look around

1.30pm Speaker 4: Mechanisms for advocating for and embedding audience needs on a redisplay / development project

1.50pm Questions and discussion

2.00pm Meeting the needs of audiences – ways and means, opportunities and issues.

Small group discussion led by museum staff. Options:

Group 1, schools

Group 2, families

Group 3, adults

Group 4, young people

15.00pm Coffee break

15.15pm Group feedback

15.45pm Final comment and discussion - all

16.00pm Close

Fear the Olympics will lead to massive cuts

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is anger that the Olympics will lead to the siphoning off of funding for museums, galleries and other cultural institutions. Already the Arts Council and Heritage Lottery will face dramatic cuts. It seems that the Government is preventing any kind of debate on the proposed cuts, see this article in the Guardian today about the cultural sector's response.,,2063338,00.html

Sunday, April 22, 2007


The MA Art Museums & Gallery Studies students, based in the Department of Museum Studies have a show on at the moment at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, entitled Re:generation. Definitely worth a look, it's located on 'The Wall', on the ground floor of the museum adjacent to the caff.

More details on their website. It's on view until the 7th May (normal museum opening hours apply).

Go along and show some solidarity with your fellow students! It's certainly made me itchy, itchy, itchy to do something a bit creative.

Apart from Re:generation, New Walk Museum has a couple of other major temporary exhibitions on at the moment.

Face to Face, 'a powerful close-up of humanity's closest biological relative - the ape' and Ortonesque: Joe Orton 1933-1967, a retrospective which documents the life and work of the Leicester-born playright. Face to Face closes on the 6th May, with Ortonesque coming to an end the day after.

No reviews this time, I'm afraid. I was already feeling quite miserable, helpless and at odds with the world. The twin themes of cruelty and murder did little to lift my mood, so all I managed was a quick scoot around both.

I've got masses to do in the coming week, so I shall sign off by bidding you all adieu, at least for the time being. See at the next Friday Catblogging! ;)

e-scholarship editions

Something to add to the list of useful online research resources is the University of California Press' e-scholarship editions, a database of full text publications to some of which the public have open-access.

CFP: Migration, Diaspora, Ethnicity, and Nationalism in History

From H-Museum:

Call for Papers

Baltimore, MD
June 5-8, 2008

The relentless thrust of globalization and the unexpected termination of the Cold War have increased rather than reduced global tensions. These developments force us to reconsider some themes once thought to be exhausted. Migrations, the formation of diaspora communities, and the resurgence of ethnicities, both old and new, have transformed conventional conceptions of the nation-state.

With such considerations in mind, the Historical Society is pleased to announce that the organizing theme for 6th conference, scheduled for early June 2008, will be "Migration, Diaspora, Ethnicity, and Nationalism in History." The conference will be held in Baltimore, Maryland. We envision a meeting in which historians across fields come together to deepen and enrich the state of knowledge about these vital concerns.

Franklin W. Knight will chair the 2008 conference program committee.

Please send 6 copies of your proposal--no more than 2 pages--accompanied by a brief curriculum vitae to

2008 Conference
The Historical Society
656 Beacon Street, Mezzanine
Boston, MA 02215

Proposals will not be accepted via e-mail. The deadline for proposals is May 20, 2007.
Questions? Email us at or call (617) 358-0260.

Joseph Lucas
The Historical Society
656 Beacon St., Mezzanine
Boston, MA 02215
Fax: 617-358-0250
Phone: 617-358-0260

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lecture: Slaves to the Past

From H-Museum:

Tate Britain, London
May 21, 2007, 6.30 pm

Part of Museums and Galleries Month

March 2007 marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. Is this cause for celebration, or should we instead reflect on the evil of slavery itself? Many museums, galleries and heritage organisations are taking the opportunity to explore the legacy of the slave trade, and their own role in it as institutions implicated in the politics of Empire. How should they approach this? Should museums make restitution for collections built on slavery, for example? Or are there problems with the current preoccupation with documenting and commemorating slavery? Does the focus on man's inhumanity to man obscure the more inspiring lessons of history? Are museums and heritage organisations neglecting their responsibility to document the past objectively, by engaging in 'the politics of apology'?

- Josie Appleton: convenor, Manifesto Club, and freelance journalist
- Maurice Davies: Deputy Director, Museums Association
- David Miles: English Heritage and author of The Tribes of Britain

- Dr Mike Phillips OBE: novelist, historian, curator and Cross Cultural Consultant - Tate

Chair: Tiffany Jenkins: Arts and Society Director, Institute of Ideas

Tickets are free but must be reserved.
Please email with your name and affiliation.

Visit the Museums and Galleries Month website for more events:

Tiffany Jenkins
Tel: 07983640133

CFP: Museum Encounters Between Objects and the Public

From H-Museum:

Call for Paper Proposals

"Museum Encounters between Objects and the Public"
College Art Association's Annual Conference
Dallas, Texas
February 2008

The session will focus on the encounter between art objects & the public in the art museum context. Papers exploring the historic reception of specific objects, styles, and exhibitions in museums historically; museum objects' social lives, or biographies, over time; changing audiences for objects from production to their modern-day museum context; artists' interrogation of and intervention in museum visitors' practices are all welcome. The session arises from the observation that the public's encounter with works of art in museums has been investigated by art historians, museum educators, curators, and artists from vastly different perspectives and with few opportunities for dialogue. It thus aims to bring together those actively exploring from different perspectives the experiences, histories, and practices of the modern-day public in art museums.

Please send a 1-2 page double-spaced proposal to the address below. Include a paragraph explaining your interest and expertise in the topic and note whether you are a CAA member. Include a CV with name and address, including email and phone, and a summer address and telephone number (if different from your home address).

Send all submissions by May 11, 2007 to the address (post or email) below:

Dr. Christina Olsen
Getty Foundation
1200 Getty Center Drive
Suite 800
Los Angeles, CA 90049

Friday, April 20, 2007

Dis:cover! 2 Disability de-formed, re-formed and re-presented

Colchester Museums is set to host the second of their Dis:cover! conference series looking at the representation of disability. The conference, called Discover! 2 Disability de-formed, re-formed and re-presented will be held from 20 - 21st June 2007 at the West Wing, Ickworth House, near Bury St Edmunds.

The main focus for the conference is the portrayal and representation of disabled people. With a range of speakers and workshops the conference will look at historical references to disability, challenge stereotypes by reassessing those references past and present, and encourage greater representation of disabled people.

Contact Jo Besant, Bookings and Information Officer to book a place or for more information, details below.

Colchester & Ipswich Museum Service
Museum Resource Centre
14 Ryegate Road
Tel 01206 282937Fax 01206 282925

Criticism of the UK Government's funding policy

I have not had time to read this in its entirety, but here is a link to an article by John Tusa of the Barbican in London which criticises the UK Government's current funding policy as regards the arts. It raises some important issues, not least should the arts be 'forced' to justify the money spent on them unless they prove how important they are for general society? I know there is a lot of anger about how the arts are being made to fit in with government policy, not least because there is a lot of discomfort about what the aim of government policy is in encouraging more people to be exposed to culture.

And because it is Friday afternoon here is a picture of a pretty cat I used to know; he lives in the Isle of Man and is a rumpy because he has no tail at all. I am not sure if he has a name as he only used to come to my dad's house for a saucer of milk, but we assumed he was deaf because he never 'meowed' or responded to voices. He was the most amazing colour, I have never seen a cat quite the same.

Friday Catblogging

It's Friday afternoon, I've just eaten an enormous plate of noodles for lunch and I can't be bothered to do any work, so I think it's time for something completely silly.

I have discovered that there is a blogosphere tradition of blogging about cats on Fridays, so here's a picture of my cat Djinn which I've called 'Chairman Meow' (he looks to be more interested in 'Mao's Last Revolution' than I am, quite honestly!).

Enjoy if you like cats. If you don't, well, tough! :P

CFP: The Past in the Present

From H-ArtHist:

The Past in the Present: History as Practice in Art, Design and Architecture
An International Interdisciplinary Conference

Glasgow, 26th-29th October 2007


Keynote speakers:
Prof Pat Kirkham, Bard Graduate Center, New York Prof Richard Dyer, King's College London


Deadline: Tuesday 1st May 2007

* What is the role of historical research and critical reflection in art, design and architectural practice?
* How is historical research and critical reflection in art, design and architecture informed by debates around leisure and commodification, pleasure and sensation, technology and mobility?
* How is historical research in art, design and architecture manifest in independent practice, study beyond the academy, cultural criticism and journalism?

Conference Keywords:

Memento mori

This three-day conference aims to bring together a broad range of participants, including scholars, artists, designers, architects, museologists, curators, archivists and collectors, to debate the ways in which styles and genres from the past, both visual and written, have been reinvigorated in the present for celebratory, nostalgic, or critical ends.

The organisers welcome speakers from any discipline, including (but not limited to): art, design and architecture theory, history and practice; media and cultural studies; sociology; history; gender/queer studies; Asian and African-Caribbean studies; film studies; philosophy; new media and information studies.

The conference will be structured using the following strands, with a special invitation for papers on the key themes indicated below:

Leisure and Pleasure:
* Nostalgic spaces of entertainment
* Retro-design and leisure
* 'Heritage' environments and tourism

Technology and Culture:
* New histories of art, design and architectural technology
* 'Dead' media and obsolete technologies
* Re-visioning technology's history

Historical and Critical Writing:
* Relationships to history in critical writing practice in art, design and architecture
* The uses and abuse of theory
* Redefining the critical canon

Proposals are invited for 20-minute presentations. Panel proposals of up to three speakers are also welcomed. The main conference days will be 27th-28th October, with events and trips on the 26th and 29th October.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words, to 'The Past in the Present', Department of Historical and Critical Studies, Glasgow School of Art, 167 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G3 6RQ. Abstracts may also be sent by email to

Deadline for abstracts: Tuesday 1st May 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Webcasts: Hurricane Katrina and Material Culture

Just what I asked for - more webcasts. Fantastic!

The following gives details of a series of lectures and simultaneous webcasts that will be held on Monday, April 23, 2007, at the Smithsonian on Hurricane Katrina and material culture.

"Breaching a Living & Material Culture: The Ravages of Hurricane Katrina"

The Smithsonian Forum on Material Culture, 77th Quarterly Meeting, April 23, 2007, Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution

LIVE WEBCAST of the entire event will be available at:
Please note: the webcast can be viewed live beginning at 3:00pm, April 23, 2007 and it will be archived for viewing after the event, as well.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS, 3:00-4:00pm
"Back from Atlantis: A New Orleans Story in Words and Pictures," Chris Rose, Columnist, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and Author of "1 dead in attic."

- "Looking for Katrina," David Shayt, Associate Curator, & Hugh Talman, Staff Photographer, both National Museum of American History, Smithsonian

- "Putting Mega-Catastrophic Disasters in Perspective," Larry Reger, President, Heritage Preservation

- "Preparing for the Unthinkable," Eryl Wentworth, Executive Director, American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works

- "Preserving What Remains," Kathe Hambrick, Executive Director, River Road African American Museum (Donaldsonville, LA)

- "Culture Work as a Centripetal Force: The Regenerative Role of Museums, Culture-Bearers, and Cultural Policy in New Orleans after Katrina," Carole Rosenstein, Rockefeller Humanities Fellow, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian

Moderated by: Pherabe Kolb, Senior Program Officer, Office of the Deputy Secretary, Smithsonian, and Founder of the Smithsonian New Orleans Group

Program Organizers: Anne Goodyear, Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings, National Portrait Gallery; Ann Juneau, Head, Department of Science, Smithsonian Libraries; Bill Tompkins, National Collections Coordinator, National Collections Program

Material Culture Forum, Katrina Program Sub-Committee: Stephanie Hornbeck, Chair; Amelia Goerlitz, Events Coordinator; Cassandra Good, Steering Committee Member

This program has been made possible by the generous support from within the Smithsonian Institution by the following: Richard Kurin, Director, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage; the National Museum of African American History and Culture; the National Collections Program; and Marc Bretzfelder, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Web Services Division.

Greeks could be allowed to borrow the Parthenon Marbles

Continuing the theme, I've just spotted this article. Suggests a significant softening of attitude on behalf of the British Museum with regard to that perennial thorny issue much debated by museum studies students everywhere, I'm sure. ;)

The British Museum

I expect this article from Neil MacGregor, head of the British Museum, in the Guardian today will invite some interesting comments:,,2060784,00.html

Of particular interest to me was the idea that the museum is "about the world as seen from Britain rather than a history focused on these islands." But who is doing the 'seeing'? Blatantly it is the 'museum' and it is helpful to therefore to de-construct their notions of 'Britain.' I have not looked at the British Museum in detail but one of the chief virtues of being British has always been supposedly having a sense of 'fair play' and justice. To date the attitude of the British Museum to cultural relics which it holds onto despite repeated calls for their repatriation is not one which many people would call fair.

I also think the following is interesting: "The museum does not always tell the truths people want to hear. It was set up to challenge the simple labels with which people addressed the world. The ideal of tolerant inquiry it embodied has outlived the 20th century's disastrous fantasy of the nation as a closed cultural community." Although I am not too sure that the museum has always been a force for good in terms of challenging labels, I agree with the emphasis in the article, that we need to look beyond national identity as closed, that it is dynamic, changing and open to influences from beyond the land borders.

Still I cannot think that the British Museum is as revolutionary as they like to make out. Even though they exhibited the controversial Warren Cup for instance it was hidden to one side of the entrance with massive signs to deter you from entering if you would be offended. So different to a museum in Germany I visited where they had Peruvian cups with quite graphic displays of a sexual nature on open display in the gallery.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

CFP: Journal - Africa e Meditterraneo

Something for all you social inclusionists out there:

Call for paper

The journal Africa e Mediterraneo ( ) is going to publish a special issue devoted to the theme of young people and social inclusion/exclusion in Europe and in the Mediterranean area. Social researchers are invited to send us proposals and papers for publication.

Youth and social inclusion/exclusion in Europe and in the Mediterranean area

The next issue of Africa e Mediterraneo aims to offer an overview on young people risk being socially excluded in Europe and in the Mediterranean area. The analysis will pay attention to their condition of cultural belonging, their relation with spaces (physical and mediatic) and their problems of social integration.

A special focus will be on second-generation young immigrants and their integration process. The social exclusion, experienced by young people in minority groups ghettos, represents a phenomenon more and more important for institutions and civil society; the dossier aims to present the debate for the comparison between the social research and the practices offered by intercultural operators and educators.

The following issues will be considered:

§ The analysis of second-generation young immigrants in Europe in relation to the social inclusion/exclusion spaces (physical and mediatic).

§ Second-generation young immigrants between research, building and deconstruction of the identity which will be able to represent a link between the country of origin and the hosting country.

§ Young people risk being socially excluded in the Mediterranean area and in Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Algeria, Ghana): their perspectives, their approach to Europe.

Language: For this special issue, Africa e Mediterraneo will publish articles in Italian, English, Spanish and French.

Deadline for the submission of articles: 10 June 2007

For information, contact:

Filippo Mantione

Tel.: +339 051-840166

Associazione Africa e Mediterraneo

Via Gamberi 4 - I-40037 Sasso Marconi (BO)

tel. + 39 051 840166 - fax + 39 051 6790117 -

c.f. 91221260374

Workshop: NaMu, National Museum Narratives (2nd call)

NaMu: Making National Museums
A series of Marie Curie- funded international workshops comparing institutional arrangements, narrative scope and cultural integration

Call for participation for Workshop 2

National museum narratives

University of Leicester, UK, 18-20 June 2007

In the second of a series of 6 workshops examining facets of national museums, organised by the Universities of Linköping, Oslo and Leicester, this workshop will explore the explicit and implicit narratives of nation to be found in national museums. The workshop provides 30 funded places for existing PhD students and 10 for post-doctoral students with no more than 6 years research experience. The meeting will also fund a number of internationally renowned keynote speakers. Participants from the first workshop may apply for a place at this meeting. Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they can contribute to the central debate of this conference series which concerns the place of the national museum in society and nation. It is not essential that attendees are specifically researching national museums but they must be able to demonstrate that they can contribute to the aims of this workshop and will benefit from engagement with the wider delegate group. Full details of the programme for Making National Museums are presented at

The aims of the Leicester workshop are two fold. Firstly, it is an opportunity for those in the early stages of their research careers to engage in an exchange of ideas with their peers. Participants will achieve this through structured discussion sessions and small group work centred on fieldwork at the major national museums in London. To facilitate these conversations, participants will contribute a poster paper which outlines their research, its theoretical influences, its research context and methodologies, and any research outputs already achieved. The posters should indicate how this work might contribute ideas, approaches, framing questions and so on, for the study of national museums. The posters will be exhibited at the meeting and will form the basis for individual conversations on the first day which will provide direct benefits to individual participants in terms of enriching their research outlook and approach.

The second aspect of the meeting is rather more experimental, and will explore how a group of individuals – the delegates themselves – locate narratives of nation in these museums. Both as individuals and in small multidisciplinary and multinational groups, delegates will attempt to locate the nation within the museum. Through structured explorations and conversations both in the museums themselves and subsequently, delegates will unravel the narratives and semiotics of these important institutions. Are these just great museums or do they really say something to – or about – the British?

In the first meeting of the series, held in Norrköping, Sweden, we explored the range of studies currently being undertaken by researchers in Europe. These raised a large number of potential research themes, topics, methodologies and questions which will be pursued in greater detail at this and other meetings in the series. Each meeting focuses on a different perspective and each will have a different complexion in terms of the kinds of sessions, topics, and debates. The workshops themselves will evolve as the series progresses. The Leicester conference is centred very much on narratives, individual and group interaction, and on information exchange which aims to support research development. It will permit researchers at various stages in their research careers to discuss their research and its applicability.


Venue: The Coppice and Stamford Hall, University of Leicester

Programme in Outline

18th June 2007
12.00 Registration and posters submitted and hung
12.30 Lunch
13.30 Welcome and introduction
13.40 Keynote: Donald Preziosi
14.20 Keynote: Chris Whitehead
15.00 Discussion
15.20 Tea and opportunity to see posters
15.50 Keynote: Peter van Mensch
16.30 Keynote: Eilean Hooper-Greenhill
17.10 Discussion
17.30 Poster session, ideas exchange and refreshments
19.30 Poster session ends
20.00 Dinner

19th June 2007
8.30 Depart for London
Small group research work at the following London nationals:
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The Natural History Museum
The Science Museum
The British Museum
The National Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
Tate Modern
Tate Britain
The National Maritime Museum

17.00 Depart for Leicester
20.00 Conference Dinner

20th June 2007
9.00 Introduction to debate.
9.10 Mixed group workshops
10.30 Coffee
11.00 Plenary session: National museum narratives
12.30 Lunch and departure

Details of poster session
The first workshop privileged short communications and longer written submissions. This second workshop requires a rather different kind of effort on the part of delegates and, indeed, attendees from the first meeting will generally be able to distil information from their original presentations for these posters. The poster presentations will be used to tell other attendees about the research an individual is undertaking. Specifically: the research context (the intellectual background from which the research questions emerge), the research questions, theoretical shaping, methods and results or preliminary results if known. The research described may not specifically discussion national museums but it should have some applicability to this topic. By this means it is hoped that participants at the conference will have their horizons extended. Posters should be A1 in size and also carry title of research project/thesis work; author; author location. Further details will be placed on the NaMu website.

Funding covers two nights accommodation, a contribution to travel expenses and all meals whilst at the conference. In order to apply please visit the NaMu website ( and register (or update your personal details if necessary) and also email Amy Barnes directly stating how you believe you could contribute to the proposed meeting. You will also need to supply Amy with details of your likely travel costs (see below). Final selection will be made to ensure a rich disciplinary and national mix of delegates.

Travelling to Leicester
Travelling within the UK: Leicester is just over an hour north of London by train leaving from St. Pancras station. Midland Mainline operates this train service. For tickets and times try Leicester is centrally placed in England and thus fairly easy to get to from other parts of the country as well. It is on the east-west train line which passes through Birmingham, Peterborough, Norwich. If travelling from Scotland, flying can be cheaper. There are numerous cheap train tickets available on the web. Full price tickets can be very expensive but it is usually possible to avoid them

Travelling to Britain: The most convenient airports for Leicester are London Luton and Birmingham International. London Luton is less than an hour from Leicester by train and is home to low cost airlines Easyjet and Ryanair. Free bus service from outside the airport terminal takes you to Luton Airport Parkway station a few minutes away. Catch the train north from there. You may need to change at Luton town station. This latter station is not particularly helpful in terms of information but screens on the bridge/entrance will say which platform. Alternatively, Birmingham International Airport is also very easy. Catch the train from there northwards to Birmingham New Street Station, then take the train to Leicester. From East Midlands Airport catch a bus to Leicester – this airport is a little less convenient because it lacks a train connection. Of the other London airports: from Heathrow catch the Heathrow Express (expensive but fast) to Paddington, Circle line tube around to St Pancras Station, and train north. From Stansted Airport take the train into London (unless advised otherwise) and make your way to St Pancras. From Gatwick Airport, again head north across London to St Pancras. London City Airport is a tiny airport in the centre of the capital. It is often quite useful for that hop across the Channel. Alternatively, you can catch the Eurostar train from Paris or Brussels.

Useful weblinks: (Luton Airport) (Birmingham International Airport)

Past, present and future meetings in the NaMu series (specific titles to be confirmed in some cases):

• Workshop 1: Setting the frames, Cultural Studies, Linköpings universitet, Norrköping, Sweden, 26-28 February 2007.
• Workshop 2: National museum narratives, Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK, 18-20 June 2007
• Workshop 3: European national museums in a global world, Department of culture studies and oriental languages, University of Oslo, Norway, 12-14 November 2007
• Workshop 4: Comparing European national museums: territories, nation-building and change, Cultural Studies, Linköping University, Sweden, 18-20 February 2008
• Workshop 5. National museums in a technological Europe, Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, 16-18 June 2008
• Workshop 6. Concluding conference: European national museums encountering a globalized culture, Department of culture studies and oriental languages, University of Oslo, Norway, 17-19 November 2008

Organising Committee
Professor Peter Aronsson, Culture Studies, Linköpings universitet, Sweden.
Professor Arne Bugge Amundsen, Cultural history, Oslo University, Norway.
Professor Simon Knell, Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

'Yet more blogs' alert!

So, as referred to here, and in addition to my earlier post today, here's a few links to some museum blogs I've recently found (links will appear in The Attic 'blogroll' as soon as possible). Probably something here for everyone.

Hanging Together - billed as 'The hangout spot for libraries, archives and museums'.

WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution - blog tie-in with current exhibition on show at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)

Past Thinking - 'Archaeology, history, Internet. Where the past meets the future.'

- and last, but not least, the Powerhouse Museum's (Sydney) fresh + new - 'discussion of issues in digital heritage and museums'.

That's enough to be getting along with, at least for now. More blog alerts to follow soon!

Save the William Morris Gallery campaign update

Since Amy drew our attention to the plight of the William Morris Gallery, the campaign has gathered apace. The following link is to the Guardian newspaper who have written an interesting article about the Gallery and the work of William Morris.,,2058882,00.html

More depressingly it has an angle on the attitude of Waltham Council who, despite using a phrase from one of Morris' literary works as their motto, feels he is no longer relevant to contemporary society. Before I launched into a scathing attack on the limited horizons of some council members it struck me that perhaps such an attitude grows out of a general embarrassment about the 19th century? It is not fashionable to be a 19th century intellectual either, poor Marx has already fallen out of favour.

Anyway, I am sure there are lots of reasons why Morris is no longer popular or tolerable in present society, and I am certain that he would not be entirely happy with the shiny baubles and bright packaging of the 'new' global capitalism either. If anything, surely his messages of beauty and usefulness are even more important today in a world which could, if you were feeling especially pessimistic, be seen as one of junk and artifice?

Conference Alert: New Media

From H-Museum:

New Media: Reaching wider audiences and improving the visitor experience
The 7th International Communicating the Museum Conference
Madrid, Spain
4 - 7 July 2007

The 7th edition of Communicating the Museum - the leading international networking conference for communications professionals - is to be held in Madrid from 4 to 7 July 2007 under the chairmanship of Will Gompertz, Tate's Director of Tate Media.

Focusing on the ever more important role that innovation plays in museums' communications strategies, "New Media New Audiences: How to reach wider audiences and improve the visitor experience" is this year's main theme of this unique networking forum. During two days, Communicating the Museum will take place at the Museo Nacional del Prado, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, the three leading institutions in Madrid, partners of the conference.

Keynotes speeches, panel debates, case studies, business workshops as well as private guided tours and a Gala Dinner will give participants the opportunity to encounter leading world experts as well as colleagues in order to listen, learn, exchange and network.
This year, a special delegation of Chinese museums from Beijing, Shangaï and Taïwan will bring to the conference a special insight into the current trends in Asia. Also, for the very first time, a Prize for the "Best Media Initiative" will be awarded during the Gala Dinner at the Retiro Park.

The Communicating the Museum conference aims to bring together arts and museum communications professionals from Europe and beyond. It has become a unique networking forum where counterparts from press, marketing, and public relations departments of different cultural institutions can meet, discuss and exchange ideas and experiences around a specific theme. The conference is organised by Agenda and is the brainchild of Corinne Estrada, Director of Agenda and Damien Whitmore, Director of Public Affairs at the V&A Museum. In 2006, the conference was held in Rotterdam, with more than 250 participants attending from 20 countries.

Simultaneous translation in English / Spanish for all keynote speeches

There will be an opportunity for questions after each keynote presentation.

Programme (Subject to change)

Wednesday 4 July 2007

12.00 - 19.00 Registration of delegates at Reina Sofia

16.00 - 18.00 Rendez-vous at the Reina Sofia for:
- Private viewing of the film The Travel of Guernica from MoMA to Reina Sofia
- Presentation from Malaga, including a piano recital (for four hands)

20.00 - 22.00 Welcome Cocktail at Thyssen-Bornemisza

20.10 - 20.15 Welcome to the conference
Corinne Estrada, Managing Director, Agenda Paris

20.15 - 20.20 Bienvenido a Madrid
Carlos Fernández de Henestrosa, Managing Director, Thyssen-Bornemisza
Guillermo Solana, Chief Curator, Thyssen-Bornemisza

20.20 - 20.30 Why New Media?
Aims of the conference and overview of the two days
Will Gompertz, Director of Tate Media, Tate London

20.30 - 21.30 Buffet dinner

21.30 - 23.00 Private guided tour of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection - in English and Spanish

Thursday 5 July 2007
Reina Sofia Auditorium

New media, new world

09:00 - 09:30 Welcome coffee

09.30 - 09.35 New Media, new world
Corinne Estrada, Managing Director, Agenda Paris

09.35 - 09.40 Digital native or digital immigrant?
Film by Guillaume Juhugian, France Television

09.40 - 09.50 The vision of the Reina Sofia
Ana Martinez de Aguilar, Director, Reina Sofia Madrid

09.50 - 10.30 New Media: the sociological approach
How new media can lead the way in refreshing, re-building and strengthening the uniqueness of the relationship between museum and visitor
Bernard Stiegler, Director of Cultural Development, Centre Pompidou Paris

10.30 - 11.00 Responding to the challenge
What's happening in new media at the Tate and other museums?
Will Gompertz, Director of Tate Media London

11:00 - 11.30 Coffee break

11.30 - 12.00 A break with the past - media on-line
Mapping the variety of new relationships between print, radio, TV and the internet
Mario Tascón, Director general de Contenidos de Prisacom and El Paí, Madrid

12.00 - 12.30 New media as part of overall strategy
Cristina Alovisetti, Managing Director of Sociedad Prado Difusión, Museo del Prado Madrid

12.30 - 13.00 Panel Discussion: The globalisation of culture and its impact on museums
Panel discussion including all keynote speakers

13:00 - 14:30 Lunch on the terrace of the new extension, Reina Sofia

Case studies - Knowledge sharing
14.30 - 15.30 Case studies in the 3 museums - the Reina Sofia, the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza
15.30 - 16.15 Coffee break and transfer to second case study
16.15 - 17.15 Case studies in the 3 museums - as above
17.30 - 19.00 Private guided tour of the Reina Sofia Collection and architectural overview - in English or Spanish

20:30 Transfer to Gala dinner
21:00 - 21:30 Cocktail
21:30 - 23:30 Gala dinner & Award ceremony for the best museum website at Cecilio Rodriguez Garden
23:30 Transfer back to the hotel

Friday 6 July 2007
Reina Sofia Auditorium

New media, fresh perspectives

09:00 - 09:30 Coffee at the Reina Sofia

09.30 - 09.40 New media, fresh perspectives
Will Gompertz & Corinne Estrada

09.40 - 10.20 How to monitor the value of new media
Beatriz Fernandez de Bordons, Managing Director, Zed Digital Madrid

10.20 - 11.00 Maximising impact with on a small budget - guerrilla marketing
Vincent Argudo, Scanner, Barcelona

11:00 - 11.30 Coffee break

11.30 - 12.00 Enriching the visitor experience and building long-term relationships
Dr Nancy Proctor, Director, The Gallery Channel Audio Media Development Manager, Antenna Audio Paris

12:00 - 12:30 Panel Discussion: How has new media changed the way museums spend their communications budget?
What percentage of the budget to spend on digital media compared to print and why? What works and what doesn't and how do we know?
Panel discussion including keynote speakers
Nigel Semmens, Head of Communications, the National Gallery
Miriam García Armesto, Head of Communication, Reina Sofia
Claire Eva, Head of Marketing, Tate

12.30 - 14.00 Business workshops & Networking Forums
Lunch on the terrace of the new extension, Reina Sofia

Case studies - Learning from experience
14:15 - 15.15 Case studies in the 3 museums - the Reina Sofia, the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza
15.15 - 16.00 Coffee break and transfer to second case study
16:15 - 17:15 Case studies in the 3 museums - as above
20:15 - 22:00 Farewell Cocktail at the Prado

Private guided tour of the Prado

Saturday 7 July 2007
Discover Madrid: a choice of four tours - in English or Spanish

Guided tour of Historical Madrid, including the Royal Palace (2 hours, by foot, free of charge)
Guided tour of Contemporary Madrid; including art galleries and architectural sites (2 hours, by coach, free of charge)
Half-day visit to El Escorial (additional charge to be advised)
Guided tour "Capitan Alatriste" - a different way to discover Madrid (2 hours, minimum 10 participants, 10€)


For enquiries about the conference, contact:

Register now:

Contact Weekend: Industrial Heritage 2007

From H-Museum:

Industrial Heritage 2007
Second European contact weekend for industrial heritage volunteers and associations
Kortrijk - Zwevegem
25 - 27 May 2007

E-FAITH, the European Federation of Associations of Industrial and Technical Heritage is a young platform promoting contacts and co-operation between non profit volunteer associations, the place where those can meet, exchange experiences, learn from each other and support each other's activities an campaigns.

After a succesfull first meeting last year in October, attended by representatives from 11 countries, E-FAITH is now going to organize a second European contact weekend for volunteers and non profit organisations that are engaged in the research, the preservation, the interpretation and/or the presentation of the industrial and technical heritage.

It will again be an open and stimulating meeting where organisations and individuals can present and compare their ideas, projects and results - and find out where cooperation or common projects can grow, how they can support the aims of colleagues and how colleagues can support their objectives. This will be possible by lectures and oral presentations, leaflets, information stands, posters and small exhibits. Each participant is allowed to use the presentation techniques that to him/her seems to be the most appropriate.

The main themes of the meeting will be:
- European bordercrossing cooperation between industrial and technical heritage associations
- twinning between associations
- exchanging experiences from the field

This second contact weekend is organised on May 25th and 26th in Kortrijk and Zwevegem (Belgium). Both towns are situated on the French-Belgian border, less than 30 km from Lille (France)

This second European Industrial and Technical Heritage Weekend will take place in in the former electrical power station of Zwevegem (protected by law and now being transformed into a multifunctional cultural, music, meetings and business center) and in the National Flax Museum in Kortrijk. The power station of Zwevegem holds turbo generators and other machinery of Belgian, French, Swiss, Swedish, Hungarian, etc. origin and offers a real 'European' story of electricity production. Participants will have the opportunity to visit the power station in detail.

On Sunday May 27th there will be a facultative bus tour in the region, visiting the flax heritage (e.g. retting and scutching), windmills (oil and grain mill, and the last flax scutching windmill of Europe recently restored by a volunteer association), steam engines, etc.

Additional information on the Second European Industrial and Technical Heritage Weekend is available and will be regularly updated
- on the website of E-FAITH,
- or can be requested by e-mail at
- by fax + 32 56 41 76 36

Conference Alert: Upheavals of Memory

From H-Museum:

Upheavals of Memory: Defining, Imagining, Creating, Contesting Humanities Institute, University College Dublin
27-28 April 2007

The Humanities Institute of Ireland is funded under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI), administered by the HEA.

The aim of this two-day conference is to examine the discourses in which memory is defined, imagined, created, and contested. The focus of the event is to examine the identical, oppositional, complementary, and contradictory boundaries of the powers of remembrance across various disciplines. This event focuses on the overarching theme of the initial HII research programme, Identity, Memory and Meaning in the Twenty-First Century, by tangling the issue of the upheavals of memory from a variety of intersecting discourses including, but not limited to, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, archaeology, sociology, language, literature, linguistics, history, art history, classical studies, film studies, geography, and music.


Friday 27th April

8:45 - 9:30 Registration

9:30 - 9:45 Opening Address
Professor Mary Daly

9:45 - 11:15 Session 1: Performing and Inventing Memory

11:15 - 11:45 Coffee / Tea Break

12:00 - 13:30 Session 2: Remembering Identity

13:30 - 14:30 Lunch

14:30 - 15:45 Session 3: Politics and Commemoration

15:45 - 16:15 Coffee / Tea Break

17:30 Keynote Address

The Remembering of Doubt and the Forgetting of Faith: Caravaggio's The Incredulity of St. Thomas
Professor Peter J. Burgard (Harvard University)

Wine Reception will follow in UCD Common Room

Saturday 28th April

9:00 - 10:30 Session 4: Defining Memory: The Mythological and Philosophical Approach (UCD Geary Institute)

Session 5: Visualizing Memory

10:30 - 11:00 Coffee / Tea Break

11:00 - 12:30 Session 6: Interpreting and Narrating Memory (UCD Geary Institute)

Session 7: Displacement, Dislocation, and Memory

12:30 - 14:00 Lunch

14:00 - 15:30 Session 8: Space, Place, and Memory (UCD Geary Institute)

Session 9: Contesting Historical Memory

15:30 - 16:00 Coffee / Tea Break

17:00 Keynote Address

Relics and Remembrance: Some Reflections on the 'Object Lessons' Exhibition at Kilmainham Gaol
Pat Cooke (University College Dublin)

18:10 Closing Address
Professor Anne Fuchs

20:00 Conference Dinner for Participants

Full Programme:

Organizing Committee

UCD Humanities Institute of Ireland
Humanities Building
Belfield, UCD
Dublin 4

Blog Alert: Musings

Via Museum Anthropology, here's a link to a fairly new museum blog, Musings, written by

the University of Missouri-Columbia Museum of Art and Archaeology using the Museum’s collections, exhibitions and events.

Looks good...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Conference Alert: The Globe in a Glass Case

From the ICOM listserv:

The Globe in a Glass Case
Ethnographic Collections in Ireland

National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin

Friday 11 - Saturday 12 May 2007

What makes a collection 'ethnographic'? How should we present these collections? How should a museum make the link between the objects and the people who crafted them? What is the future of ethnographic collecting?

Ireland is home to a large number of ethnographic collections and objects, both in the hands of the state and of private collectors. Only a small proportion of this material however is actually on public view. This conference will try to draw attention to this material, and has brought together some prominent invited speakers, respected experts in their field who represent major museums, to discuss this material in the light of the most recent contemporary debates about collecting and the treatment of material heritage.

For more details, see the website at , or

Conference Organisers:

Dr Seamas O'Siochain, NUI Maynooth
Dr Pauline Garvey, NUI Maynooth
Dr Adam Drazin, Trinity College Dublin

Study Day: Pride of Place - Ceramics and their place in English Houses

Just saw this on the University homepage. Sounds really quite interesting. But then, I've always been keen on old pots...

Pride of Place: Ceramics and their place in English houses - 17/04/2007 10:00

The Centre for the Study of the Country House invites you to the first in three study days for 2007

The Centre's Director, Phillip Lindley and George Drye, Executive Director of the Lamport Hall Preservation Trust, announce 3 days of lectures open to the general public. The lectures will take place in the Print Room, Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire.

Tuesday 17 April

Mr Lars Tharp - Pride of Place: Ceramics and their place in English houses

Who was Hogarth
Whores, rakes and crashing chine
From palace to suburb
A day specially designed for amateur and professional alike, anyone with an interest in the evolution of the domestic interiors, its recreation and interpretation of its contents; focussing on Ceramics we enter the 18th century through the object-rich works of William Hogarth. A case study in how part interiors may be recreated with the help of prints and paintings.

10.00am - Arrival and coffee

10.30 - Lecture 1

12.00 - Lecture 2

1.00 - Lunch in the Dining Room

2.00 - Lecture 3

3.00 - Tea

3.15 - Depart

Cost £30 per study day, inclusive of lunch, tea and coffee

reCollections: Journal of the National Museum of Australia

Hopefully you will be able to access this link to a new journal produced by the National Museum of Australia. It will primarily emphasise Australian contributions but the journal will also publish articles which "invite international comparisons and transcend regional concerns."

More from the website: Who needs a new journal of museums and collections? This is a fair question, best answered in the journal's primary aim: to provide a rapid means of publishing research in (and on) museums and collections, and thereby stimulate awareness and encourage discussion of issues across the field. The field is defined broadly to encompass two main areas: museology and museum practice; and material history, the history and interpretation of objects, and the social and environmental history of material culture.

WANTED! Abstracts for the Autumn Issue of the Museological Review

Just a gentle reminder that we are still looking for abstracts for the Autumn issue of the Museological Review, a student journal edited by the PhDs based in the Department of Museum Studies at Leicester. The deadline for submissions is the end of April. See the link in the sidebar (i.e. 'Stop Press!!!') for more details. -------------------------------------->>>

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Workshop/Conference: Touch and the Value of Object Handling

(Via Material World)

A series of workshops funded by the AHRC and organised by UCL Museums & Collections.

UCL Museums & Collections warmly invite you to a series of workshops exploring touch and object handling in the context of museums. This series is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Workshop 6: End of project conference: Touch and the value of object handling.
Friday 4 May 2007, University College London, Anatomy JZ Young Lecture Theatre, Anatomy Building.


10am-10.30am Registration and Tea/Coffee. UCL, Anatomy Gavin de Beer Lecture theatre, Anatomy Building

10.30-10.45am Introduction and Welcome: Dr Helen Chatterjee, Deputy Director, UCL Museums & Collections and AHRC Touch Workshop leader. UCL, JZ Young Lecture Theatre, Anatomy Building

10.45-11.20 Prof. Alan Wing, Behavioural Brain Sciences Centre, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham

"Moving into touch research: a personal account"

11.20-12.00 Bernadette Lynch, Head of Public Programmes and Academic Development at The Manchester Museum, University of Manchester

'The amenable object': working with diaspora communities through a psychoanalysis of touch

12.00-1.15 pm Lunch

1:15-2:00 concurrent discussion sessions facilitated by:
Dr. Fiona Candlin, The School of Continuing Education Birkbeck, University of London

»Dr.David Prytherch, Research Fellow in Haptics & Computer Interfaces for Craft, Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, University of Central England

»Jane Samuels, Access Manager, Department of Learning & Information, The British Museum

»Dr Helen Chatterjee, Deputy Director, UCL Museums & Collections and AHRC Touch Workshop leader; and Devorah Romanek, UCL Anthropology PhD, and AHRC Touch Workshop project assistant

2:15-3:00 concurrent discussion sessions facilitated by the same as above

3:00pm-3.20pm Tea/Coffee. UCL, Anatomy Gavin de Beer Lecture theatre, Anatomy building

3.20pm-4pm Plenary address and conclusion, Bernadette Lynch. UCL, JZ Young Lecture Theatre, Anatomy Building

Please bring any thoughts, questions and ideas you have to contribute to the discussion sessions.

To book a place and/or for further information contact Devorah Romanek on email:
This workshop is FREE; Tea/Coffee will be provided.

This programme is generously funded by the AHRC Research Workshops scheme.

Top blogging! MW2007

Lynn Bethke has been blogging from Museums & the Web 2007 about her experiences of volunteering at the event. Through her round up of Day 2, I came across the results of a survey I completed oh...before Christmas, I think. The Radical Trust paper and presentation make for very interesting reading (I do love my stats!), not least because The Attic gets a mention!

The Attic was #13 of 15 top museum blogs ranked by number of user comments in the previous 30 days (data collected 21st Dec 2006). Three months later, we'd shot up to #4 (6th April 2007). While I suspect most of the comments tallied were just me and Ceri talking amongst ourselves, it's absolutely FANTASTIC to get a bit of recognition. Well done everyone who has contributed to the blog - have a pat on the back from me. Of course, you realise, we're going to have to keep it up now!

The paper and slideshow give details of some other really interesting sounding blogs well worth investigating. That's my Sunday set then. ;)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Creationist museum challenges evolution

Going to let this one 'speak' for itself. I'm not saying nuthin', apart from to say I suspect Ken Ham really is the sort of person who truly believes that museums can make a difference and effect changes in society (see previous post), if a little misguided in his enthusiasm (Damn - I wasn't going to make any snide comments!). ;)

BBC NEWS Programmes From Our Own Correspondent Creationist museum challenges evolution

Can museums really make a difference?

As museologists I guess most of our research at least touches upon the power of museums and their potential as instruments of social change. Here's a BBC report about an inspired collaboration between Google Earth and the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, which aims to highlight genocide in Darfur, and -crucially - affect a change:

BBC NEWS World Africa Google Earth turns spotlight on Darfur

"Museum director Sara Bloomfield said the challenge in preventing genocide was
not only to inform people but also to make them empathise with the victims - and
then act.

"When it comes to responding to genocide, the world's record is terrible," she said. Each information screen has a link for people to follow for advice on what they can do to help - including writing letters to politicians.

And with some 200 million people using Google Earth over the past two years, the scheme's potential reach is huge.

The museum's Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative - which aims to halt violence before it becomes genocide - could be extended to other conflicts in the future."
Lofty and admirable aims, but do individual museums (however iconic) have the necessary political clout and high profile to change the world? I'm not sure, but it's got to be worth a go.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Norwich Castle Museum

As promised, here's my report about Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery.

The Castle Keep

To begin with, I have to confess that I didn't 'do' the whole museum. An inventive pricing scheme means that you have to decide, before you enter the museum, what you want to see, i.e. the Castle & History Zone, Art & Exhibitions Zone, Natural History Zone, or all three. Each zone carries an admission, though once you're in, you can stay all day. Over the years I've had enough of Romans and Vikings, so plumped for the Arts & Exhibitions Zone. I handed the attendant a range of membership/discount cards (Museums Association, NUS, National Arts Collection Fund and Association of Arts Historians) and got in free!

A large proportion of the art collection currently on show consists of Victorian paintings or art on a local theme - perfectly pleasant, but not really my thing. My new found insider knowledge of etchings (did a print workshop a couple of weekends ago) gave me a new appreciation of the etchings in the collection and I enjoyed the twentieth-century paintings of East Anglian landscapes, particularly those by Edward Seago (a self-taught oil painter, who - before becoming an artist - ran off to join the circus!).

Some Nelson (my favourite man and local hero!) 'stuff'

The world's largest teapot, made for the Great Exhibition, 1851.

I was pleasantly surprised by the interpretive techniques employed in the galleries. There was the standard combination of basic objects labels and larger text panels, but the curatorial team had made use of poetry, particularly a poem by Andrew Motion, the poet laureate, at the entrance to the main art gallery. I guess the aim was to engage visitors with the artworks and provide something thought-provoking to encourage people to think about the works on a deeper level beyond surface aesthetics.

I'd like to say that the exhibition currently on display in the Bernard Matthew's gallery (yes, it's really called that, I do not jest. Bernie, as he's known in my neck of the woods, is a significant local figure - almost part of East Anglian mythology these days - and major employer (though, perhaps not for much longer, what with the turkey twizzlers debacle and bird 'flu) was - wait for it - clucking good, but I can't. 'Waterlog' is inspired by 'The Rings of Saturn' by W.G. Sebald who, until his untimely death in 2001 in a car accident, was a tutor on the famous MA Creative Writing course at U.E.A. I can strongly recommend the book (it's fabulous), but the works on show, specially commissioned from a number of British artists, just didn't move me.

The Arts & Exhibition Zone ticket includes entry to the decorative arts galleries. My particular favourite was the Twinings Gallery of British teapots (I once applied for a job as the curator of the collection - didn't get it, big shame, cos I'm a real tea connoisseur and I love teapots!). Also on show were fairly substantial collections of ceramics and silverware. I was impressed by the museum's attempts to gather the opinions of its users to inform a planned refit of the decorative arts galleries. Visitors are encouraged to fill in a form telling the museum what they like/dislike about the current displays, and what they'd like to see more/less of. Okay, a fairly superficial contribution, but shows an enlightened attitude on the part of the curatorial team all the same.

An interesting installation by Julian Walker, which links 'flawed' objects from the collection, with the names of prisoners once incarcerated in the castle when it was a prison.

I haven't been to the Castle Museum for a number of years and certainly not since its refit. I was impressed. While the admission fee (around £6 to see everything) seemed a little steep initially, there really is enough to keep one occupied for a whole day, which you could punctuate with lunch in the really nice atrium cafe and a bit of retail therapy in the museum shop (or the adjacent Castle Mall!). I can strongly recommend it!

CFP/Conference Alert: Researching Destination Management, Policy and Planning - Linking culture, heritage and tourism

From Ethno-museums listserv:

Conference announcement and call for papers


Riga, Latvia: 24-25 September 2007

Jointly organised by: Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change, Leeds Metropolitan University (

Ministry of Economics of the Republic of Latvia / Department of Tourism Development

European Union of Tourist Officers (

Culture(s) and heritage, both tangible and intangible are at the heart of the visitor experience of destinations. At the level of policy making and planning, the importance of destinations’ unique and distinctive cultural attributes for the tourism sector is commonly articulated, at least rhetorically. The management of cultural and heritage assets for tourism is also a critical issue for destinations. However, working connections and collaboration between agencies and stakeholders in these domains are often weakly developed in practice. Inter-disciplinary research at the interface of the complex linkages between these sectors and professional interests has much to contribute to terms of critical, reflective debate on key issues affecting the relationships between culture, heritage and tourism at the destination level.

Research in destination policy, planning and management also explores the competitive opportunities and pressures associated with the emergence of new and diverse international tourist markets. Such research makes a critical contribution in the development of creative and sustainable strategies for the culture, heritage and tourism sectors in destinations.

The aim of this conference is to bring together researchers who share interests in destination policy, planning and management in relation to culture(s), heritage and tourism. These research areas are also clearly relevant to professionals in destination management and the conference will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to share leading edge ideas, innovations and critical thinking with the professional destination manager participants at the European Union of Tourist Officers (EUTO) Study Visit to Latvia which coincides with the conference. There will also be opportunities for delegates to participate in parts of the EUTO programme.

Theoretical and applied issues and themes to be explored at this conference include:

Creative uses of cultural and heritage resources for tourism

Cultural events and festivals as animators of place

Transnational approaches to and conceptions of destination planning in urban and rural contexts

Community participation in destination development

Building sustainable partnerships and stakeholder relationships between tourism, culture and heritage in destinations

Managing cultural heritage and sensitive sites for tourism

Competitive advantage, new tourist markets and destinations

New and emerging technologies in destination representation and marketing

Destination image and branding

If you wish to submit a paper proposal, please send a 300-word abstract with full address and institutional affiliation details as an electronic file to Dr. Philip Long ( The deadline for the reception of abstracts is 13 July 2007. Please find regularly updated information regarding this conference, registration procedures and (at a later stage) a full programme at our website