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.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Winner of the Gulbenkian Prize is announced

I am not too proud to say that I am devestated by the results of the Gulbenkian Prize which have finally been announced. The £100,000 prize goes to Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, which I am sure is very lovely but it should have gone to Sheffield's newly renovated Weston Park Museum or alternatively Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Sob.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Research Week Review: Monday, 21st May 2007

By Magnus Gestsson

Attending the Research Week papers and seminars has always been a great source of inspiration and this week was another such event of fun, discussion, and chatting spiced up with a bit of gossiping.

This brief review you are about to read is a very personal account based on what appealed to me the moment it was said. I take these elements and improvise around them.

The day kicked of with tea, coffee and biscuits. A nice warm up before the future head of our department Richard Sandell opened the week with a welcome. He confirmed that it was 99.9% sure that the department of Museum Studies would take over the Educational Library building when the Education Library becomes a part of the main library. This is good news because the whole Museum Studies operation will be under the same roof: PhD students, academic staff, general office, distance learning, technical support and hopefully a nice tea room with art on the walls (that is my fantasy anyway).

Then Viv Golding introduced the program and informed us about the themes and papers of the week. The theme for the first day was Representation and Communication.

Jeanette Atkinson kicked off by telling us about her investigation into writing educational programmes that incorporate cultural values. it is not possible to repeat the talk but interesting food for thought was her statement that awareness of own cultural values helps one to understand and accept other cultures and values. This can of course be debated but I think there is a grain of wisdom in this.

Amy Barnes' research into the material culture produced to promote the Cultural Revolution in China is very interesting. There was a lot of this stuff around in Iceland back in the 70s. I remember that some of the Maoist sects survived until around 1980 when some of the Maoists became Punks after the first Icelandic punk band was founded in 1978. Other Maoists disappeared into state and private institutions. Apparently similar things happened in England but a bit earlier although it can be debated whether The Clash were originally Marxist or Maoist. Anyway I remember shopping for Mao badges and Mao's wisdom in the Red Book to support one of the sects. It is probably called something else in English but I use an English translation of the Icelandic title. Anyway it became a bit boring in the end. Punk and anarchy were much more fun and direct action instead of endless meetings analysing capitalism and finding ways to mobilise the masses. Anyway, it could be an idea to create an exhibition about how and why Maoism had such a strong influence on young people in the capitalist west instead of thinking about how it affected the population of China. However, the move from communism, Maoism to capitalism is interesting and somehow I remember having read in a Marxist study that the move from socialism/Marxism to capitalism was inevitable. I'll put a full stop here.

Vivian Ting discussed her research into the displaying of Chinese ceramics in museums. The title of her paper was 'An eye for beauty: Thoughts on looking at Chinese ceramics in museums'. She looked at aesthetics, static viewing and the lack of 'dynamic multi-sensory experience' when Chinese ceramics enter European museums. She also left me with an interesting sentence to contemplate: 'Going to a museum is a shopping experience' and I saw museums in a different context.: A place of symbolic shopping. You cannot really buy the objects but you can say: I would like to have something like this in my house and... Are the possibilities endless? Or is the endless possible?

Histories of slavery and histories of painful memory were at the heart of Donna McFarlene's paper. Another aspect of her paper was ignorance and how the idea of keeping both white and black people ignorant about apses of black history appear to go like a theme through history. This is a complicated story of power and counter power, slaves and slave owners, black and white. A history where binary oppositions play a main role. In the midst of all this I started thinking about how Icelandic/Nordic Vikings enslaved people in Ireland and other places. White people enslaving white people and when in 1627 Turkish ships came to Iceland and killed and enslaved Icelanders and took them to Turkey. The Turks were the barbarians in this case. Suddenly I saw the history of Iceland in a different perspective and the history of slave trade. And Iceland was a Danish colony back then and what sort of an enslavement is that? It is a serious and complicated multi vocal history. Thank you for bringing your voice to the choir.

The intention was to finish writing this last Wednesday 23 May but unfortunately I was interrupted by a leaking water tank in my new flat, plus problems with the gas. So I had to stay at home an wait for specialists to sort things out. Now it is Friday and I want to finish the job but realise that I forgot my notes at home. However, I remember bits and bobs from Heather's paper.

What caught my attention in Heather's paper was the ownership of research. She is looking at disability issues and was confronted by the fact that her interviewees demand as I understood it to be regarded as co authors or even authors because of the invaluable information they provide. They therefore demand a 1.000.000% visibility. I thought about my interviewees who did not demand anything in that direction and I felt relieved.

There were two cancellations on the day Professor Patrick Boylan's seminar about moving on from the PhD and have a careers and Wei Fen Lee's paper about the use of museums in urban regeneration.

A big thank you to all the speakers.

‘Art as a window on the world’

Some thoughts on the visit to the Sainsbury Centre

‘Art as a window on the world’ is the slogan that the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich uses to capture the experiences that can take place within their diverse collection. We had an opportunity to look through this window when we visited the centre on the last day of the research week bringing all the discussions and presentations, which we had engaged in the past days, into a concrete museum context. Nichola Johnson introduced us to the impressive Norman Foster building and the art works, which were (and still are) collected and donated by Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury.

The collection consists of over 1300 objects – all acquired from a purely aesthetic perspective, which is emphasized by the way it is exhibited. It includes sculpture, paintings, masks and objects form all over the world ranging from 2000 BC up till today. Each object on display is led to speak for itself, the sculptures are placed so they can be experienced from all sides and there is no obvious narrative to follow, except from the geographical arrangement. There are many things to be said about the lack of interpretative material and the demands it makes on the viewer to read own meaning into the object. Personally I was a bit disillusioned at first, not so much because of the actual exhibition, but because of the noise from the café, the missing overview of the exhibition space as well as the impressive height of the building, which meant that all objects seemed so tiny and pressed towards the ground. I wondered around a bit, restless, without being able to concentrate or focus. There were impressive art works, Giacometti, Picasso, Moore, but mixed with small ancient sculptures and masks. The more I looked, the more I became aware of myself, as a figure walking around among figures. It hit me that the collection was not diverse or at least not as randomly collected as Nicola had expressed – or at least that was not the impression that I had. The human figure in space or the human gazing out in space seemed to be a strong theme running through the objects. The stares from the African masks, a mummy portrait, John Davies’ lonely bucket man, a small fat fertility figurine or Moore’s Mother and child all seem to be occupied in with some kind of human condition or a way of existing in the world as a body. This strong narrative was for me not build up with a beginning, middle and an end, but forced itself upon me as I moved around the space, growing strong since I began consciously to focus on this particular aspect. I realize that this was a highly personal way of reading these objects and also that I did not really learn anything new about the objects. But still the experience I had, made me aware of myself, as a figure, as a body, and as a human being. The window for me was not so much towards the world, but more towards myself.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A temporary hiatus (yeah, another one!)

Dear all,

I'm dealing with some pretty heavy stuff at the moment and may not be in the mood to blog much, if at all, for the next few days. Hopefully, the other Attic team members will be able to take the helm in my absence.


Amy x

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tough justice for ASBOS at museum

An interesting take on the social value of museums here, from York Dungeon Museum. For anyone not familiar with the British justice system, you can find out what an ASBO is here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Museum Crawl: In pictures (part 2)

When we last met our intrepid band of latter-day Indiana Jones' (I'm trying to build excitement here!) they had explored both New Walk Museum & Art Gallery and the City Gallery and were now having lunch...

Next stop after a relaxing lunch and good old gossip (by this point I think Pippa was probably regretting ever having signed up for a PhD!) was the Guildhall. The weather turned nasty on the way... did did the atmosphere, when we arrived.

Outside the main entrance to the Guildhall.
Little did we know the horrors we could encounter within.

The Guildhall is one of those places with a really negative vibe. Not surprisingly really, given its history as a place of justice and imprisonment. I liked it not one jot.

The Great Hall

A replica of a gibbet (this becomes an object of significance later on in this tale)

Although the cobbled courtyard was wonderfully sheltered, the interiors were - I think we'd all agree - a little spooky. It probably didn't help much that I kept going on about 'Most Haunted' and the paranormal, but even Ceri, who was determined to see something otherworldly, didn't like the atmosphere in the bedroom on the mezzanine floor of the Great Hall. And the Library, with its haunted Bible, was too much for me. A sudden and unexplained chill around my ankles had me running! And then - when I got home - I found this (scroll down the page until you get to the Guildhall section).

The Haunted Bible

But, having said all that, there were some more pleasant surprises to be had at the Guildhall. Like...

Nineteenth-century scratched graffiti on the stained glass windows, and...

...a mop-wringer in the courtyard, that got Ceri mightily excited!

By the time we'd had enough of the ghosts and ghouls, it was cold and windy and piddling it down. So we dashed across the alleyway and had a quick look at Leicester Cathedral. Pleasant ambiance (very cathedrally, as you'd expect) but lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. The fact that the pews had been ripped out and replaced with stackable stainless steel framed and beech veneered chairs didn't really help.

After the cathedral, and getting stuck in the rain, we all felt in need of a caffeine pick-me-up, so we stopped in a nearby cafe to dry off and refuel.

Believe it or not, we were actually talking about research methodologies here!

After coffee, Anna W got her wish and we split up for a spot of shopping (Primark, naturally) before we hit out fifth destination, Jewry Wall.

To be continued...

Where should we stand on the replica debate?

After the misfortune that befell the Cutty Sark recently from arsonists, here is an interesting article in the Guardian about whether or not it should be restored to 'how it was' ... however there is some disagreement over whether it should be as a 'landlocked museum' or as a working ship, which would restore its context and enable it to be used.,,2087952,00.html

I for one am content to argue for the latter. As the article points out much of the ship has been damaged beyond repair so it effectively has to be rebuilt. So why not go the whole hog and rebuild it completely so that it becomes a working ship?

Museum Crawl: In pictures (part 1)

This week Friday Catblogging is taking a week off in place of a write-up of our recent Museum Crawl around Leicester in celebration of Museums and Galleries Month. I know, it's devastating news, but rest assured, the museum moggies will return next week.

On Saturday, 19th May 2007 an intrepid band of Museum Studies PhD students met at 10am on a sunny morning in Leicester to spend a day exploring its cultural and historical highlights.

Anna W, Ceri and Amy

At first we weren't so keen. Anna W suggested going shopping. But when Ceri and I found out that - despite living in Leicester for eighteen months she had never visited New Walk Museum - we felt it was the perfect opportunity to induct her into Leicester's art and ethnographic collections.

The imposing facade of New Walk Museum & Art Gallery

As she was the newbie, we let Anna W choose a route around the galleries. Unsurprisingly she headed straight to the dinosaurs, but was disappointed at the state of the carpet (terribly mucky) and the lack of authentic dinosaur fossil in the articulated skeletons on display. Never mind, perhaps the geology gallery - with its gert big lumps of rock - would prove to be more inspiring. Unfortunately no. Despite winning an award in the mid-nineties, the gallery was tired and shabby. Feeling a little depressed, we headed for the museum's collection of Egyptian artefacts, including a couple of mummies. This was far more exciting; atmospheric and engaging. Ceri and I were particularly drawn to a child's stripy sandal sock, while the three of us had a deep and philosophical discussion about the status of cats in Egyptian religion and - in particular - whether the cat mummies on display died peacefully, or whether someone had bumped them off, a line of conversation which I found bit distressing. Unfortunately, the biodiversity display with its myriad of ancient, stuffed creatures (and broken interactives) didn't make me feel much better.

Next was the art collections. Much more my cup of tea. We had a bit of a debate over the aesthetics of abstract art (for the benefit of the Archaeologist and Medieval Historian in the company) and then headed upstairs to look at the Museum's fairly new World Cultures exhibition. Disappointing in terms of display design, but we found a lot to look and marvel at... this reconstruction of a 'celebrated' Victorian murder in ceramic form.

Amy and Ceri (pretending to be) absorbed by the display ;)

Next up was my most favourite collection of things at the New Walk Museum, the German Expressionists Gallery. Anna agreed that this was more her kind of thing, though I'm not convinced Ceri felt the same. A big debate ensued mid-gallery about which German art movement the White Stripes had referenced on an album. None of us could remember. (It was De Stilj by the way. And it was Dutch!) And then Pippa - the newest addition to our PhD community - arrived.

Having done New Walk, next on our itinerary was the City Gallery on Granby Street.

Having never visited the City Gallery before, I was quite excited about the prospect. But, although the video installation on show was quite interesting, I didn't think much of the portraits in the gallery upstairs, and - I think - we were all quite surprised, and a little disappointed by the lack of floor space. But, we did our bit by each completing a visitor's questionnaire. Ceri - audience research supremo - commented that she thought it was rubbish 'though (the questionnaire, not the City Gallery.)

By now it was midday, and - having already walked our legs off - we were feeling a little peckish. Lunch was had at a streetside cafe (see, Leicester can do 'continental chic'), and despite grey skies and violent gusts of wind, we were determined to sit outside. Pippa revealed a talent for organising seating arrangements, and making tables appear seemingly by magic. And, at that moment, our final museum crawler, Anna Ch arrived.

Something amused Ceri

To be continued...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Discussion point 1: Presentation skills

Okay, so here's the first of those discussion points I alluded to in my last post. What are your tips for creating and 'performing' a good presentation?

I for one realise that my 'comfort blanket' reading from a written paper doesn't make for the most successful presentation, at least not from the audience's perspective. But, it does help to bolster my confidence by knowing that I won't forget any important points, get into a muddle with my slides, nor run out of time. It's a question of balance I think.

We were witness to a lot of very good presentations this week. What do you think worked well, and what do you plan to put into practice next time around?

Research Week Reflections

Well, that's a bit of a misnomer really, because - officially - Research Week isn't yet over, and several of our happy band have gone to spend the day in Norwich (and are probably sitting in a coach stuck in traffic as I write!), but the main part of the programme, the individual presentations, are all now complete.

Personally I really enjoyed the week. Met lots of new lovely colleagues and regained my enthusiasm for my research. Also ate and gossiped FAR too much, but that's another story. ;)

Waking up this morning I felt a tinge of post-holiday sadness. You know, that feeling you get when you have to go back to work after a break? Although it's been busy and tiring, I found everyone's presentations so inspiring and, may I say, the company so delightful, that while wading through my backlog of emails and recordings and photos to upload today, I have felt more than an little melancholic, though to be fair - and as anyone who knows me will confirm - that it my default setting. Oh well, back to the daily grind I suppose. At least the weather is lovely at the moment (that's me being stereotypically British there!).

A couple of points for discussion were raised during yesterday's session, which I thought might generate a little blog debate. More on that, plus reviews and photographs, very shortly.

If you're thinking about doing a PhD and lurve a curry...

...Leicester could be the place for you (shame they don't say which are the best restaurants in this article 'though).

City curries favour with judges

Leicester has been named as Curry Capital of Britain, after an undercover team of 13 tasters judged five restaurants earlier this year.
The city beat 16 rivals to take the title after several years of trying.

Officials said a combination of good food and a vibrant atmosphere, created by £4bn of regeneration in the city, had boosted Leicester's bid.

Organiser Peter Grove, from Menu Magazine, said: "The quality of food was very good."

He added: "With all that is happening within the city we felt it was the deserving winner."

More visitors

The city's curry houses were up against rivals from Glasgow, which won the title last year, and Birmingham, winners in 2005.

Restaurant bosses and tourism chiefs said the win would help lure more visitors to Leicestershire as a whole.

Syed Rahman, owner of Little India in Arnesby - one of the restaurants which impressed the judges - said he was delighted with the news.

He said: "I can't believe that it has taken this long to be recognised for having the best curries in the UK.

"If you look across the whole of Leicestershire there is a great diversity of cooking and our customers have been saying for years how good the food here is compared to other cities."

Curry fans in the city said they were happy Leicester had scooped the title.

Marcus Winder, 37, from Blaby, said: "I have been to places across the UK and there is nothing like a curry from Leicester."

Caroline Hayes, 44, from Countesthorpe, said: "This is great news. We can finally shout about all the top restaurants in the area."

Story from BBC NEWS

Published: 2007/05/23 15:07:17 GMT


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

You say 'tomato', I say 'massacre', let's call the whole thing off

This blog post might be a little off-topic, and - perhaps - more appropriate for my research blog - but I think it gives an interesting insight into the role of language in the interpretative process.
(Apologies to anyone who finds the topic distressing.)

The Cutty Sark needs your help...

After yesterday's devastating fire, the Cutty Sark has launched a fundraising drive to cover the cost of restoration.

Artist offers his own head for shrinking

An...err...creative solution to the repatriation issue.

Artist offers his own head for shrinking

Monday, May 21, 2007

PhD Research Week: Day 1

Just got in from our research week dinner at The Curry House. Day 1 has been pretty exhausting and it all starts again tomorrow at 9.30am! Still, it's been nice to get together with people I haven't seen for a while, and meet new colleagues. And, a big relief to get my presentation out of the way!

A review of Day 1 will follow shortly, but in the meantime, here's a few photos to whet your appetites.

Richard Sandell kicks the week off

Viv gives us our instructions for the day ;)



The assembled

Dinner time!

How respectable was Darwin?

I am sure it is not just me but many times during my research I am confronted with the Victorians and their views on the world which appear to still influence how we think about many subjects today, notably race, culture, classification, history... I am sure I could go on. Which is why I saw with interest some research done by Dr Gowan Dawson which looks at Darwin from the perspective of was he respectable. Apparently he was accused (through his theories) of encouraging sexual impropriety. Not that I am in any way seeking to discredit our illustrous 19th century forebears...

Watercolors of Second Life

3pointD writes of a book of watercolours of SL now for sale. If this was purhased by a museum, accessioned, and perhaps digital derivatives of it put online, maybe even stuck on someone's wall in SL (or There, or anywhere), the head starts to spin. Unless, that is, we give up ideas of real and virtual as a pain in the butt and just MOVE ON!
Just kidding. Still, it's another little mind-twister to chuck into the mix. Real, authentic, virtual, inauthentic, valuable, worthless, durable, ephemeral and so on.
Whether her paintings are any good is something else entirely, but who am I to talk? Luca did a better lighthouse than me last time we had a draw-off. He probably wasn't yet 4 then. And my pirates and dragons suck next to his, too.

STOP PRESS: Cutty Sark destroyed by fire

The Cutty Sark - 'world's last tea clipper', and significant landmark on the London Marathon route - has, this morning, been devastated by fire. A report on BBC Breakfast News just a few moments ago has confirmed that around 50% of the ship, plus the artefacts previously on show, had all been removed for the restoration project, but 80% of what was left has been destroyed. The Cutty Sark Trust are confident that they will be able to restore the ship. The fire is thought to have been started deliberately.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Symposium: The New 'Museum'?

From H-Art History:


Thursday, 24 May, 17 h,
Hall of Städelschule, Frankfurt/Main

The Städelschule and its Architecture Class invite to a one-day Symposium addressing the status and role of the contemporary and future museum.

The symposium takes place on Thursday 24th of May and is co-hosted by the Rector of the Städelschule, Prof. Dr. Daniel Birnbaum, and the Dean of the Architecture Class, Ben van Berkel. It will include a group of distinguished guests from the international art and architecture milieus.

With the steadily increasing pressure of information flow and capital, the status and role of the contemporary museum within the arts as well as other fields are continuously challenged. In the arts, fairs are emerging as ubiquitous events to inject market interest and social flair. The Guggenheim and the Louvre have become export items. Museums at large are prompted to devise new, specific strategies for the dissemination to and entertainment of visitors via the Internet.

With these changes, is the museum as an institution for archival services
and the mere reification of existing culture is passé? What role and whose
interests will the museum serve tomorrow? Do we need to sift the past from
the present and future in such away that museums become institutions for the
sheer preservation of yesterday¹s treasures? Does the museum as an
institution, as it emerged over the last couple of centuries, still hold
relevance, or should the arts and other fields look elsewhere to formulate a
vital form to present previous periods¹ collectibles and tomorrow's cultural
gems. And for this 'elsewhere,' is the emerging and ever more popular art
fair a good model, its current architectural typology as inspiring as your
average sitcom?

These and other questions are what will be addressed in the symposium, The
New 'Museum'?, which the Städelschule hosts in order to address one of the
more difficult and interesting set of questions that our culture is facing.


5 p.m. Welcome: Daniel Birnbaum & Ben van Berkel

- Art & Architecture
Volker Rattemeyer, Director Museum Wiesbaden
Peter Cachola Schmal, Director German Architecture Museum DAM

- Architecture & Art
HG Merz, architect
Ben van Berkel, UNStudio / Städelschule

- Branding the Museum
Nicolas V. Iljine, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Emily King, Frieze Magazine

- Open Discussion. Moderation: Daniel Birnbaum

No accreditation!

Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste - Städelschule
Architecture Class
Dürerstr. 10
60596 Frankfurt am Main

Conference Alert: Craft at the Limits

From H-Material Culture:

Craft at the Limits
Artist Panel and Conference

This weekend of events presented by the Getty Research Institute and the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts offers a new vantage point to assess the social and artistic place of craft in the postwar period. Rather than insist on the relationship between two imaginary monoliths. These events are open to all members of the general public.

Artist Panel: Saturday, June 2
Conference: Thursday-Saturday, May 31-June 2

Artist Panel

Date: Saturday, June 2, 2007
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Center, Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Admission: Free; reservations required. Call (310) 440-7300 or use the "Make Reservation" button below.

Leading artists whose practices have been defined in reference to craftway it informs their work. Glenn Adamson of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, moderates the panel.

St. Gobain (detail), Sheila Hicks, 1978 Hicks speaks at the artist panel on Saturday, June 2


Dates: Thursday-Saturday, May 31-June 2, 2007
Locations: The Maloof Foundation on Thursday, The Getty Center on Friday and Saturday
Admission: Free; separate reservations are required for each day. See below for reservation information.

Day One

Thursday, May 31, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts
Free; reservations required. Call the Maloof Foundation at (909) 980-0412 for reservations.

The discussions at the Maloof Foundation look at first-hand accounts on the subject of craft from artists who came of age in the postwar era. Presentations, hands-on demonstrations, and a screening of Craft in America serve to broaden and contextualize the day's event. Participants include Arline Fisch, Garry Knox Bennett, Sam Maloof, Eudorah Moore, Don Reitz, and Carol Sauvion. As space is limited, a separate reservation is required for this day. For details and reservation information, please visit the Web site of the Maloof Foundation.

Day Two

Friday, June 1, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Getty Center, Museum Lecture Hall
Free; reservations required. Call (310) 440-7300 or use the "Make Reservation" button below.

Session One: The Country and the City
Borrowing its title from Raymond Williams's 1973 study of the pastoral dynamic, this panel examines the dialectic of urban cool and rural escape that defined Californian identities in the 1950s and 1960s. Craft is often casually associated with styles such as "finish fetish sculpture" by hipsters in Los Angeles, and organic weavings by back-to-the-land hippies in the Bay Area. Yet there has been little serious examination of the way that craft shaped, and was shaped by, this political and social dialectic.

Presenters include:
Glenn Adamson, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Thomas Crow, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles
Andrew Perchuk, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

Session Two: Feminism
Designed to coincide with the exhibition WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, through July 16, this panel looks anew at the way that feminist artists, historians, and critics took up craft as a subject. Presenters include:
Elissa Auther, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Mignon Nixon, Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Jennifer Sorkin, Yale University, New Haven

Day Three

Saturday, June 2, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Getty Center, Museum Lecture Hall
Free; reservations required. Call (310) 440-7300 or use the "Make Reservations" button below.

Session Three: Abject Objects
This panel addresses the social marginalization of craft by examining a range of artists
Rosemarie Trockel Amateurism, class identity, and craft's presumed reference to the body
are all potential discussion topics. Presenters include:
Janet Kraynak, Parsons The New School for Design, New York
Helen Molesworth, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge
Catherine Lord, University of California, Irvine

Session Four: Queering Craft
The feminist appropriation of craft major exhibition called it craft's coding as feminine. This panel looks at art works since the late 1970s that have tried to "queer" this narrative by not only making the direct connection between craft and gay identity, but also by examining other instances in which craft has been used as an empowering tactic for identity positions include:
Julia Bryan-Wilson, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence
Richard Meyer, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Cary S. Leibowitz (CandyAss), artist

Friday, May 18, 2007

International Museum Day

Well, apparently it's International Museum Day (thanks to Mayra for the information). The Attic will be celebrating with a museum crawl around Leicester (like a pub crawl, but with museums instead of beer) tomorrow, culminating in the 'Night At the Museum' event at Belgrave Hall. Keep your eyes peeled for lots of pics. ;)

'Though not strictly in celebration of Museums and Galleries Month 2007, next week is Research Week here at the Department of Museum Studies, where we all get together (well, most of us at least), present papers, have lots of discussions and eat masses of food in each others' company. We have lots of bloggers (including some new contributors) lined up to record each session as it happens. Hope you'll join us, if not in person, then virtually via the blog.

Happy Museum Day! (from someone who is absolutely SICK of museums at this precise moment ;))

Campaign for Museums Survey - the results!

You might be very happy or very alarmed to see that the person that the public (well the people who answered the Campaign for Museum's survey, as academics we should be accurate) would most like to see representing 2007 in a museum is... Kate Moss! I was not at all surprised really because not only did the survey restrict the response by only giving a pre-determined list of possibilities but who has been in the news the most often recently? Miss Moss of course. It's like any survey of THE BEST album of the past 20 years, people are most likely to nominate something they heard recently rather than trawl through their memory banks extensively. How many polls of the BEST album of the last 20 years would now include Radiohead's OK Computer for instance? Anyway I digress from museums a bit so will return swiftly to the point of this item which is to draw your attention, if you are in any way interested, to the results of the Campaign for Museum's Museum and Gallery month 2007 survey which can be digested by following the link below.

Friday Cat Blogging #5

Go on, admit it. You thought I would have run out of cat museums by now, didn't you?! Fear not, cos there are still a few to go. This week the spotlight falls on probably the best-named cat museum, the KattenKabinet in Amsterdam.

The Cat Cabinet is the only museum in the world to feature a collection of objects d'art wholly centered around the theme of the cat. The collection is intended as a comprehensive portrayal of the cat in art and culture throughout the centuries.(From the KattenKabinet website)

You know, I'm getting a sense of deja'vu here. All cat museums seem to claim that they were the first and the best, with the largest collection of cat-related artefacts. But this museum, with its impressive website, looks more the part than, perhaps, its counterparts in Moscow and Kuching. (A triumph of style over substance perhaps? I'm a sucker for a fancy website!)

John Pierpont Morgan

The website features a gallery of works in the collection, and a history of the building in which the museum is housed. All very sensible. And then you get to the page about the museum founder's own pussy-cat and inspiration for the KattenKabinet, John Pierpont Morgan (that's the cat's name, btw). Proof that the closer apparently intelligent people get to a cat, the dafter they appear to be! (See here for a diagram.)

Sadly, it doesn't look like the museum website has been updated since 2005. Perhaps any Amsterdam-based 'Attikers' out there could confirm that it's still open?

CFP: Invisible Culture

From H-Museum:


Invisible Culture, Issue 11, Fall 2007

***New Deadline***
Submission Deadline: June 10, 2007

Issue 11: Curator and Context

As globalization gives way to new cosmopolitanisms, and new media art
transforms the site of the museum into the virtual realm, what has become of
the curator? Invisible Culture invites papers and projects concerned with
contemporary (post-1960s) curatorial and museum practice. Submissions in the
form of 2,500-6,000 word papers from all disciplines, as well as digital
projects (virtual museums, online art exhibitions, and internet-based
endeavors, for example) are welcome.
The full CFP can be found at:

Submissions and inquiries should be directed to Mara Gladstone, Graduate
Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester at Deadline for submission is June 10, 2007.

*Invisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture* is a
peer-reviewed journal dedicated to explorations of the material and
political dimensions of cultural practices: the means by which cultural
objects and communities are produced, the historical contexts in which they
emerge, and the regimes of knowledge or modes of social interaction to which
they contribute.

Mara Gladstone
Graduate Program in Visual & Cultural Studies Adjunct Professor, Studio Arts
Editor, Invisible Culture, Issue 11 University of Rochester
424 Morey Hall
Rochester, NY 14627

CFP: Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives

From H-Museum:


CIC American Indian Studies Consortium
Newberry Library/Michigan State University Symposium


First Annual Symposium:

Newberry Library, Chicago
Monday, September 24, 2007

This is the first in a three-year cycle of annual symposia which will
situate American Indian Studies within a comparative, global perspective. We
seek scholars whose research focuses on how the founding of museums has been
bound up in the formation of nation-states. Benedict Anderson's description
of "imagined communities" sought to define and enlist a bounded citizenship.
Our focus is on those museums that reified cultural, racial, and class
differences as a justification for colonization. By rendering the world as
visible and orderly, the museum proved particularly effective in offering
concrete evidence of certainty.

This symposium explores how indigenous perspectives have challenged these
established perspectives. We are especially interested in how the movement
towards a more multi-sensory approach to knowledge has been employed to
question old certainties and present new ways of knowing. We would like to
encourage scholarly participation from the academic disciplines and
representatives of cultural institutions to examine how their own practices
incorporate alternative structures of knowledge.

The emphasis in this symposium is on listening to the multiplicity of
indigenous voices from a transnational perspective. We welcome papers from
international scholars, especially those who have worked with settler
society and/or indigenous museums. Although natural history museums are the
most obvious sites of contestation, we would encourage our participants to
investigate how knowledge is embedded in alternative exhibitionary sites,
such as house museums or historic settings.

Please submit an abstract that is one page in length by *June 15, 2007*.
You will be notified of the acceptance of your paper by July 5, 2007.
Papers will be submitted 30 days in advance of the conference (August 24,
2007) and will be distributed to seminar participants. Papers should be in
the range of 6,000 to 8,000 words and will be included in the seminar
proceedings that will be published by the University of Nebraska Press.

*DEADLINE: JUNE 15, 2007.*

Send one page proposal to CIC Symposium c/o the D'Arcy McNickle Center for
American Indian History, The Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton Street, Chicago,
Illinois, 60610 or Proposals and final symposium
papers should both be sent to the above mailing or email address. Please
direct questions to: Laurie Arnold, CIC-AIS Acting Director at or Professor Susan Sleeper-Smith, Symposium
Coordinator, Department of History, Michigan State University, at .

Laurie Arnold, PhD
Interim Director
D'Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History
The Newberry Library
60 W. Walton
Chicago, IL 60610
312.255.3575 (p)
312.255.3696 (f)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Boxed In: How cultural diversity policies constrict black artists

Recieved via the Cultural-Diversity Network...


The Manifesto Club is today launching a new provocation essay, ‘Boxed In: How cultural diversity policies constrict black artists’.

Sonya Dyer, a London-based artist and arts administrator, argues that diversity schemes and targets are unwittingly creating a ghetto for black and Asian artists, by pigeonholing them according to their ethnicity. ‘Boxed In’ also reveals that UK culture minister David Lammy has pressured galleries to set targets for ethnic minority staff, and that local museums now must draw up diversity plans in order to receive funding.

Dyer’s essay is based on interviews with UK artists and curators – and she concludes by calling for an honest debate within the sector, and for artistic quality to be placed at the centre of arts funding.


We will be holding a public launch event to discuss the issues raised in the report, on Saturday 2 June, 2-4pm, at the Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London NW3 6DG.

Speakers include Sonya Dyer (author of ‘Boxed In’), Hassan Mahamdallie (senior strategy officer, Arts Council England), Zoe Whitley (curator, V&A Museum), and Rajni Shah (artist).

With best wishes,
Munira Mirza, Manifesto Club

The absurdity of art galleries

From the Times Arts section today, another typical whingey post about the government-encouraged access policy to museums and galleries for your perusal. I really have nothing much to say about this, only that I have a fundamental question... what is wrong with different people wanting to get different things from art? If I want to go to a blockbuster exhibition to run round in 20 minutes to have a look then why not? To be honest, I have stood in front of a great painting and still found nothing to interest me after ten minutes of staring then the first 'gut instinct' impression I had when approaching it. If I have a whinge then it is the horrible reverential silence which accommpanies most visits to an art gallery, the fear that if you raise your voice above a whisper or even laugh that you will be escorted from the gallery for having too much fun. When after all there is so much that is absurd about visiting an art gallery - why do we go and stare at a representation of the world when the real thing is out there waiting for us to go and see for 'real'? LOL

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Web Adept: Catching up, tuning in, reaching out

Dr Ross Parry, University of Leicester, is pleased to announce the opening of registration for...

Catching up, tuning in, reaching out
The UK Museums on the Web Conference 2007.

Sponsored by THE 24 HOUR MUSEUM
Friday 22 June 2007 at the UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER

Find out more about UKMW07 and book a place at

Latest confirmed speakers include ..
Sebastian Chan, Powerhouse Museum (Australia) balancing the possibilities with the realities of the 'social tagging' of museum collections.

Michael Twidale, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA) on the museum 'pioneers' venturing into the 'Second Life' experience.

UKMW07 is generously supported by Eduserv and Blitz Games.


This information comes via the Museums Computer Group...

LabforCulture is an online information and knowledge platform dedicated to European cultural cooperation, complemented by a range of offline services and programmed activities. The website provides an unprecedented range of information on cultural cooperation across the broader Europe, as well as offering a platform for transnational cultural exchange, cultural debate, news and research. LabforCulture has been developed as an online tool for cultural practitioners, operators and managers, as well as artists and arts organisations, cultural researchers, research bodies, policy makers and funders in arts and culture. It is very much a partnership project and is jointly developed, funded and supported by many of Europe's leading cultural organisations.

Link to their latest newsletter:

For more information:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Discover2! Conference, Colchester Museums 20-21 June 2007

Colchester Museums is set to host the second of their Dis:cover2! 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.

Keynote speaker day 1
Anne McGuire MP – Minister for Disabled People

With government initiatives such as the Disability Equality Duty and Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People, and the images of disability website, Anne McGuire MP will set the agenda for the important work that is being done to promote equality for disabled people.

Keynote speaker Day 2
Tom Shakespeare

Tom was trained in sociology (First Class BA Hons, PhD) University of Cambridge. He has worked at the Universities of Sunderland, Leeds and Newcastle. Academic books include: The Sexual Politics of Disability (1996); Exploring Disability (1999); Genetic Politics: from Eugenics to Genome (2002); Disability Rights and Wrongs (2006). His involvement in the UK disability movement dates from 1986, and he was co-founded Disability Action North East and the Northern Disability Arts Forum.

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.

We aim with this conference to give people the knowledge and skills to be able to put this equality of representation in to practice in their own organisations and to be inclusive in their ways of working.

The delegate cost is as follows:

2-day £140 per delegate
1 day only - £80 per delegate

To receive more details in the coming weeks and register for a booking form, please e-mail

Marie Taylor
Marketing Officer
Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service

2007 European Museum of the Year Award

From H-Museum:


EMYA 2007: A great event for European museums in Alicante

The European Museum of the Year Award, organised by the European Museum Forum, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, with a Presentation Ceremony and associated activities based at various venues in Alicante, Spain, hosted by MARQ Museo Arqueológico Provincial de Alicante and local sponsoring organisations.

The 2007 Awards were announced on Saturday 5 May, during a ceremony attended
by more than 150 people from 28 European countries at MARQ Museo
Arqueológico Provincial de Alicante, followed by a Gala Dinner at the
Estación Maritima of the Port of Alicante. The winners were announced by
Sir Neil Cossons, EMF’s President and presented by the Forum’s Patron, Her
Majesty Queen Fabiola of Belgium.

The results of the 2007 Awards are as follows:

The Micheletti Award for the most promising technical or industrial museum
among the current year’s candidates goes to Brunel’s ss Great Britain in
Bristol, U.K. This project was judged to be an outstanding achievement by a
privately financed Trust. The daring decision to bring a rusting hulk from
the Falkland Islands to Bristol, followed by a major study to find the best
solution for its preservation was a huge task in itself. The subsequent
preservation, reconstruction and interpretation of the vessel has
transcended all expectations and with its associated museum telling the
story of the ship in reverse time order in historical, cultural and
technical terms, visitors are provided with a unique experience. The
installation of lifts within the ship’s funnel makes accessibility available
to all, which is rare aboard a historic ship.

The Council of Europe Award, a bronze statuette by Miró, goes to the
International Museum of the Reformation in Geneva, Switzerland, as the first
and only museum dealing with the subject of the Reformation in Europe.
Focused on Calvin, it deals with other figures such as Martin Luther, and
covers historic events going well beyond Geneva. The museum has close
relationships with museums, research institutions and universities in other
countries and its publications on the history of the Reformation are of
outstanding quality. Theological discourse is brought into the exhibition
and although it is dedicated to one particular branch of Christianity, the
museum demonstrates a high level of religious tolerance. This award was
presented at a separate ceremony in Strasbourg on 17 April 2007.

The 2007 European Museum of the Year Award is given to the German Emigration
Center in Bremerhaven. This stylish museum, in a purpose-built building on
the site of the dock from which more than seven million emigrants from
Germany and Eastern Europe departed, pays tribute to those who left for a
variety of reasons, bound for the New World. Theatrical techniques and
effective multimedia installations transport the visitor from dock to ship
and eventually to shore, experiencing the uncertainty of the emigrants’
arrival in the Promised Land. The Gallery of Seven Million, containing
documentation on all the emigrants from the port, leads visitors towards a
substantial modern research section, where they have the opportunity to
follow their own lines of enquiry right up to the present day. Excellent
visitor facilities are matched by a willingness and ability to cope with
large numbers, as indicated by the average length of time for a visit. With
its package of qualities, this is a worthy winner for EMYA’s 30th
anniversary year.

Specially commended

* Museum of the Bresse Region, Saint-Cyr-sur-Menthon, France
* The Dolhuys: Museum of Psychiatry, Haarlem, The Netherlands
* The Railway Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands
* Paul Klee Centre, Bern, Switzerland

These four museums received a special diploma recognising their excellence
in conception, innovative approach to interpretation and attention to the
needs of their visitors.

During the two days of public interviews before the Ceremony, those museums
which had passed the first stage of the judging each received a certificate
in recognition of their innovatory achievements. The full list of these
museums can be seen on the website of the European Museum Forum.

The European Museum Forum: what it is and what it does

The Forum is responsible to the European Museum Forum Trust, a charity
registered in the United Kingdom (282158), and operating under the auspices
of the Council of Europe. In addition to holding the European Museum of the
Year Award, it organises Museum Workshops at different places in Europe,
publishes a quarterly bulletin and runs an advisory and consultancy service.

Its day-to-day operation is controlled by an international committee,
composed of men and women influential in the museum and cultural fields and
it is a wholly independent body, deriving its income from membership and
entrance fees and various forms of sponsorship. It considers that its main
duty is to the public, but it maintains good relations with both national
and international professional organisations.

The candidates for its Award are new museums, established within the past
two or three years, and older museums which have been completely reorganised
during the same period. It receives applications from between 50 and 60
candidates a year, all of whom receive assessment visits from members of the
Forum’s judging committee, who constitute a European flying squad, which
goes from country to country encouraging, comforting, criticising and
offering practical advice. This is something new and unique in the museum
world. So far more than 1500 museums in 40 countries have taken part in the
EMYA scheme.

The Forum considers itself to be European in the most profound sense of the
word, a focus of cultural understanding. Its opinions are expressed in
plain terms, and its aim each year, in selecting the European Museum of the
Year, is to discover and publicise a museum which has succeeded
outstandingly well in dealing with the problems that are facing museums
everywhere, problems of imagination, money, staff morale, bureaucracy,
integrity and professional pride, taste, social responsibility and planning
for the future.

For more information please visit or contact Ann
Nicholls on; telephone 0044 117 923 8897; fax
0044 117 973 2437.

Raluca Bem Neamu
Romanian National Correspondent EMF

Monday, May 14, 2007

Research Seminar Review: Investigating Objects: How Museum Icons Are Born, Alima Bucciantini

By Amy Jane Barnes

The second half of the this academic year's Research Seminar Programme kicked off this week with an engaging presentation by Alima Bucciantini, a second-year PhD student from the University of Edinburgh.

Alima began by positing the question, if museums exist because of objects, do objects exist because of museums? She went on to describe how individual objects come to acquire greater symbolic meaning than their own intrinsic material value, thus becoming icons.

Using as her theoretical basis Walter Benjamin's 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction', Alima described how the authenticity of an object has as much to do with the meanings ascribed to it, as the integrity of its material form or provenance. To illustrate this argument she brought into the discussion a number of case studies from both the National Museums of Scotland (NMS) and Smithsonian Institute. The first of these, Charles Stewart's silver travelling canteen, saved for the Scottish nation by means of a public appeal, became an icon of Scottish national heritage despite doubts over its authenticity or provenance (doubts which, in time, were shown to be unfounded) with its acquisition and subsequent display in the new National Museum of Scotland - by extension becoming a symbol of Scottishness.

Next up was an example from America, a walking cane first owned by Benjamin Franklin who later presented it to George Washington. A constant feature of exhibitions of American heritage at the Smithsonian, the walking cane came to be associated more closely with Washington, taking on the symbolism of the revolution, its ideals and, thus, the American sense of self. Interestingly, Alima revealed that recently, Franklin's ownership of the cane is beginning to be privileged over the previous Washington-focused narrative, raising interesting questions about the changing meanings and associations of such iconic objects over time and in new political and social contexts.

Alima went on to discuss how the reproduction of iconic images such as those detailed above only serves to increase their mystique. Through reproduction the perceived symbolic value of the 'real' object increases. Visitors clamour to experience the original. Reproductions only serve to whet people's appetites, and the institution in which the object is held becomes indelibly associated with the icon; the two feeding off one another. As a case in point, Alima presented the set of Lewis Chessmen in the NMS collection; an example of an object - or group of objects - taking on greater meaning through their display, becoming symbols of Scottish society and culture in the middle ages, and countering images of a period in history previously imagined to be backward and 'uncivilised'. But what gives them value is also their ability to mean so many things to so many people; as Alima stated, in many ways they're like a written text. They can tell many different stories.

Her final example were the pair of Wizard of Oz 'ruby slippers' donated to the Smithsonian Institute in the 1970s. Though not unique, and despite being a mismatched pair, in poor condition, they have taken on a larger symbolic meaning. Initially interpreted in the museum environment as a relic of early Hollywood, they have - over the following decades - taken on different meanings associated with a cult of personality and - perhaps - more crucially, a sense of shared American heritage and set of values; a longing for 'home'. The shoes themselves have become inextricably associated with the Smithsonian, remaining one of the most popular exhibits, feeding a near cultish obsession with Wizard of Oz memorabilia and, thus, proving to be a major draw for visitors. It seems that reproduction doesn't diminish visitors' fervour, it only fuels it. And for the Smithsonian Museum, iconic objects such as these, enable it to advertise itself as being representative of ALL American culture, thus bolstering its own iconic reputation as repository of the nation's values, memories and aspirations.

Alima's seminar was entertaining and thought-provoking from start to finish, which bodes well for her eventual thesis which -based on her presentation today - promises to be an insightful and inspiring addition to the study of objects' roles in contemporary society.

Pills to make you more clever?

The Times has an article today about Modafinil - usually prescribed as a treatment for narcolepsy, but soon to be the illicit drug of choice of students everywhere (or at least that's what the article implies).

Personally, as someone who eschews all stimulants (except for the occasional green tea), I think the prospect of competing with chemically-enhanced PhD students is a little unsettling.

You know those competitions for non-steroid chomping body-builders? Well, I propose we take a stand against all this nonsense and instigate something similar for academia: a guild of certifiably 'naturally' brainy research students perhaps? ;)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

CFP: Minority reports: Indigenous and Community Voices in Archives

From H-Material Culture:

International Conference on the History of Records and Archives

CALL FOR PAPERS FOR ICHORA4, Perth, Western Australia 3-5 August 2008

Minority reports: Indigenous and Community Voices in Archives

The general theme of this conference explores issues relating to the
history of recordkeeping by and about Indigenous peoples, migrant
communities, minority communities, forgotten and disappeared
communities. This includes historical and contemporary responses by
these groups to recordkeeping by dominant communities. This conference
also welcomes discussion on the impact and histories of the destruction
of archives relating to the above communities and peoples, and the role
of records in human rights contexts, including slavery and

We invite submissions of proposals for papers that report on original
research into topics and themes that have not been widely discussed in
the archival literature. Papers may treat any time period, any format
and any national jurisdiction. Topics might include, but are not limited
to the following areas:
* Cultural provenance / virtual repatriation
* Collecting against the grain
* Representation and self representation
* Approaches to keeping cultural memory
* Expanding definitions of archives beyond traditional formats
(for example Rock art)
* Reading traditional records to tell new stories
* Historical and contemporary approaches to outreach and access
* Absences and silences in archives and cultural institutions

We encourage cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives on
issues relating to the scope of the conference.

Proposals may be for individual papers or for whole sessions which may
consist of 2-3 papers and a panel discussion.

Papers by people from Indigenous, migrant, minority and forgotten
communities are particularly welcome.

Proposals for papers
Abstracts should be approximately 300 words and in word or RTF format.

All papers will be refereed.

Proposals should be sent to by 14 July 2007. We will
advise on acceptance by the end of October 2007

The language of the conference is English.

ICHORA4 Conference Programme Committee
Joanna Sassoon (SROWA)
Karen Anderson (ECU)
Toby Burrows (UWA)
Carly Lane (UWA)
Michael Piggott (UMelb)
Kirsten Thorpe (SRNSW)
Adrian Cunningham (NAA)

This conference is timed to be directly after the International Council
of Archives Congress in Kuala Lumpur, and just prior to the Australian
Society of Archivists Conference, Perth, Western Australia 7-9 August
2008. A call for papers for the Australian Society of Archivists
Conference will be made in a few months. For further information in the
meantime please contact Dr Karen Anderson

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Museum (BBC2): Thoughts anyone?

So, did anyone watch last night's opening episode of The Museum, the BBCs new behind-the-scenes series about the British Museum? I only caught the first few mins as I found I had an unexpected birthday party to go to - my own! (it's a long story) and I couldn't get my video recorder to work, but I was - like one reviewer (sadly the piece appears to have disappeared) - a little...err... surprised by the choice of 'Muscles' by Diana Ross for the backing track during one section!

Other reviews are focusing on how the series went all out, guns blazing in an attempt to 'sex up' (I hate that term) the museum. Inevitably and tediously, focus rests on the attractiveness of various female members of staff. But the overall consensus appears to be positive. By portraying it as unstuffy and 'normal' as possible the BBC may have a small 'hit' on its hands:
You know what, though? It may sound a bit boring. In fact, it is a tiny bit boring. (You could certainly argue that what's behind the scenes at the museum
is less interesting than what's in front; how the hell are they going to fill 10
episodes?) But it's also slightly wonderful - real enthusiasts, unperturbed by
the modern world, doing their thing, immersed in the past, year after year.
Proper people. (From 'Last Night's TV', Sam Wollaston, Guardian Unlimited (11//05/2007)

Would be interested to hear from anyone who did manage to watch the whole programme uninterrupted!

Friday Cat Blogging #4

Well, who'd have thought there was so much museum/gallery space out there devoted to moggies!

This week's catblogging focuses on The Cat Museum in Kuching, Malaysia. Unfortunately the museum doesn't appear to have it's own website, but there's plenty of information online for anyone wanting to find out more. For example:

- Did you know the museum, which opened in 1988, was the first museum in the world (apparently) devoted to our feline friends?

- The exhibition and collection were originally part of Sarawak Museum, but were - a year later - moved to Kuching town hall when the town was officially proclaimed as 'Cat City'.

- Kuching ('cat' in Malay) is so named because when asked by a colonial administrator asked 'what's that [town] called?', a local thought he was pointing to a nearby cat*.

While displays focus on the natural history of Sarawak's own native cat species, there's plenty more from around the world for cat fans.

Here's a pic of the museum entrance, and just one of the many cat sculptures which characterise Kuching (I like the sound of this place!).

That's all for Friday Catblogging this week.

*This reminds me of that, probably apocryphal, story about how kangaroos got their name.


The museum does have its own website. Hurrah!

Traditional Folk Crafts

From the ICME listserv:


As part of Sibiu- European Capital of Culture 2007 Programme, "ASTRA" National Museum Complex will organize The National Olympiad for Children "Traditional Folk Crafts" and the Romanian Folk Artisans Fair, this year having also foreign participants from the European countries.

"ASTRA" National Museum Complex represents the most modern and large ethno- museum complex from Romania, founded since 1905 through the first ethnographic museum from Transylvania, completed in 1963 with the largest open air museum from Romania illustrating the Romanian traditional folk civilization.

"ASTRA" National Museum Complex is an ethno-cultural institution with national significance, having an ample structure, modern functions, patrimonial constitution, exhibition offer, and a generous scientific- documentary program, instructive- educational and of leisure time.
The complex is made up of four museums, unique as profile in the country: "ASTRA" Museum of Traditional Folk Civilisation (the open air museum), "ASTRA" Museum of Transylvanian Civilisation, "Emil Sigerus" Museum of Saxon Ethnography and Folk Art and "Franz Binder" Museum of Universal Ethnography, whose activity is sustained by other complementary departments: Zonal Department of Restoration and Conservation, "ASTRA" Film Studio, "Cornel Irimie" Center of Information and Documentation in Ethnology, Marketing Office. Public Relations. Museum Pedagogy. European Integration. Center of Touristic Information and Office of Projects' Quality Management and Consultancy.

1.. Name of the manifestation:
Romanian Folk Artisans Fair

The National Olympiad for Children "Traditional Folk Crafts"
2. Period:
15- 19 august 2007

23- 30 August 2007

3. Location:
"ASTRA" Museum of Traditional Folk Civilisation (the open air museum), from Sibiu, Romania

4. Organizers:
"ASTRA" National Museum Complex, as part of the Program Sibiu- European Capital of Culture 2007

5. Purpose and Objectives:
- To achieve a good knowledge, through international participants, of the crafts and of the individuals who practice them;
- To achieve an intercultural dialogue in order to understand other cultures and civilizations, and to accept "the other" with all the specific differences.
- To accomplish a direct, scientifically dialogue through participating with all kind of traditional objects to the Fair and Olympiad;
- To preserve and revitalize all the immaterial cultural values carried on by the artisans;
- To present all the fundamental aspects of the community life, rejoining the specific activities that lead to an intense interaction between the participants.

6. Foreseen results:
The direct contact with another culture and civilization can help us build an objective vision about our own identity. Only being on the same level, with the taught that we have similar cultures we can sustain the fact that each of us is having unique and autochthonous cultural products among the international values.

7. Participation conditions:
Romanian Folk Artisans Fair
- From each country can participate 4 or 5 artisans/craftmen;
- All the participants must practice a traditional craft;
-All the participants should wear their specific folk costume (of the country/region/village).
- The participants should make demonstrations in the days of the Fair, thus they need to bring the necessary materials as well as finished articles for sale;
- In the days of the fair the craftsmen can sell their articles.

The National Olympiad for Children "Traditional Folk Crafts"
- From each country can participate 5 or 6 children (between 6 and 18 years old), accompanied by a teacher or instructor.
-All the participants (including the teacher/instructor) should wear their specific folk costume (of the country/region/village).
- The participants should make demonstrations, thus they need to bring the necessary materials as well as finished articles for sale;
- In the days of the Olympiad the participants can sell their products.

The organizers will provide accommodation and meal during both manifestations.

8. Registration Form (for both manifestations)
Deadline for registration: 1st of July 2007

· Name, surname .................................

· Nationality .................................

· Date of Birth


· Address .................................


· Craft .................................

· Necessary facilities for demonstrations (electric power etc).................................

· Date of arrival and departure..............................
· Contact (tel., e-mail).................................

9. Program
Romanian Folk Artisans Fair
14th August- participants' arrival
15th August- folk costume parade of the participants, official opening
15th-19th August- demonstrations and sales of products
18th and 19th August- folklore performances (in case the participants are skilled in folk songs and dances they can participate to the folk show)
19th August- closing of the Fair
The National Olympiad for Children "Traditional Folk Crafts"
22nd August- participants' arrival
23rd August- folk costume parade of the participants, official opening
23rd- 29th August- demonstrations and sales of products
25th and 26th August- folklore performances (in case the participants are skilled in folk songs and dances they can participate to the folk show)
30th August- Closing Ceremony
For further information and any question please contact us at or at, contact persons: Dana Botoroagã and Mirela Creþu.
Please visit http:// in order to obtain information for the Olympiad or to obtain information about the Fair.

muzeograf/ curator

Complexul National Muzeal "ASTRA"
Muzeul Cvilizatiei Transilvane "ASTRA"
Piata Mica, Nr 11-12, 550182
Tel: 0269 217869, 0269 218195/114
Mobil: 0721077970
Fax: 0269/218060

CFP: Berlin, Divided City

From H-ArtHist:

Call for Papers "Berlin, Divided City"

Second German Studies Symposium
University of Texas at Austin
28-29 March 2008

Berlin continues to be the subject of intense debates on architecture, history, and memory, the future of the metropolis, and the new configurations of space, place, and identity in post-Wall Europe. The overdetermined role of architecture in these debates has shed new light on the unique spatial configurations and social topographies of East and West Berlin between 1945 and 1989. At the same time, the perspective of German unification has brought into relief the similarities between East and West Berlin, the strategic and symbolic function of the divided city during the Cold War, and the extraterritorial qualities associated with West Berlin with the culture of the Federal Republic. Reconstructing the central role of Berlin within these postwar discourses of nation, modernity, and postmodernity requires interdisciplinary readings of urban practices, representations, and ideologies. This symposium will approach the history and culture of the divided city from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, including architectural history, film studies, German literature, art history, German history, and political science.

We are particularly interested in the following topics:
--subcultures, countercultures, and minorities in East and West Berlin
--Cold War discourse and international espionage
--the Four Allies in Berlin
--Wall images and stories
--Berlin in the political rhetoric of FRG and GDR
--city politics and urban planning in East and West Berlin
--architectural competitions and debates in the divided city
--East and West Berlin in photography and the visual arts
--feature films and documentaries about East and West Berlin
--nostalgia for the divided city in postunification literature, film, and
visual arts

Please send one-page abstract and one-page curriculum vitae to
Philip Broadbent ( and
Sabine Hake (

Deadline: 1 June 2007
Notification: 15 June 2007

The presentations will be published in an anthology.

For further information, please contact
Dr Sabine Hake
Professor and Texas Chair of German Literature and Culture
Department of Germanic Studies
E.P. Schoch Building 3.134
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-0304
phone: 512-232-6379
fax: 512-471-4025

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Taking Part annual report released by DCMS

From Diversity-Forum...

The Taking Part annual report was released today by the Department for Culture Media and Sport. The report was funded by a partnership of Non Departmental Public Bodies, including the MLA, and is the first single survey that collects data on the users of museums, libraries and archives.

The annual report, based on 28, 117 face-to-face interviews with adults aged 16 or over living in private households in England, contains significant data relating to participation in the MLA sector. To view the annual report, please follow this link:

Deirdre McGrath
Policy Development Officer
MLA London Fourth Floor 53-56 Great Sutton Street London EC1V 0DG

Conference Alert/CFP: The Digitisation of Cultural Heritage in Germany and Europe

From H-Museum:

Knowledge by Networking. The Digitisation of Cultural Heritage in Germany and Europe
International Conference within the framework of the EU Council Presidency
Berlin, 21 and 22 June 2007

This event is hosted by the Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage (SPK), in cooperation with the MICHAEL partner organisations ( Conference supporters include EUBAM (the European portal for museums, libraries and archives); the German Research Foundation (DFG); adlib Information Systems GmbH; zetcom AG; MuseumPlus; and Robotron.

We warmly invite you to participate in this international conference, to be held in Berlin, on 21 and 22 June 2007. In four sessions, conference participants will discuss digital access to culture, science and scholarship in Germany and Europe. The conference will examine diverse initiatives in the fields of digitisation and digital networking, addressing a series of underlying questions.

The first session will present German digitisation initiatives. Among these initiatives is, a platform that will bundle information about digitisation among cultural organisations in Germany. This first session will also consider fundamental questions essential to the generation of new knowledge through networking. The second session will address questions of particular relevance to those engaged in creating networks, drawing upon examples from many European nations. Among the issues to explore are the use and reuse of object data standards and software, national versus European digitisation projects, synergy effects and the integration of smaller, or less well known, collections in larger digital networking initiatives. The third session will introduce pan-European digitisation projects, focusing specifically on the examples of and the European Digital Library. We will consider the opportunities presented by these initiatives to raise the visibility of digital sources. In our fourth session we will turn our attention to the natural sciences, where the exchange of research results and sources in international collaborative ventures is established practice. The networking experiences of scholars in the natural sciences shall encourage and provide impetus to digitisation initiatives in the worlds of culture and scholarship. This discussion will serve as the springboard to our concluding podium discussion of future strategies regarding thedigitisation of cultural possessions.

Please know you must register in advance to attend. To register, visit: Your participation is free of charge. Travel and
accommodation are your responsibility. Special rates for conference
participants have been arranged with select partner hotels. You will receive
a list of these conference hotels once we have received your formal
registration. As the number of discounted rooms is limited, we encourage you
to book well in advance.

Conference languages are English and German. All presentations will be
simultaneously translated.

This conference will take place in the Otto Braun Hall of the State Library
in Berlin. The address for the State Library in Berlin is: Potsdamer Str.
35, D-10785 Berlin.

Prof. Monika Hagedorn-Saupe
Institute for Museum Research
In der Halde 1
14195 Berlin, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)30 830 1460,
Fax: +49 (0)30 830 1504

Further information:

Conference Alert: Architectural Records Symposium - Managing and Preserving Design Records

From H-Museum:

Program and registration information for CCAHA's upcoming program, Architectural Records Symposium: Managing and Preserving Design Records, is available below and on our web. Additional sessions and speakers are still being added to the program, so check the web site regularly for additional information.

We would appreciate your sharing this information with your colleagues and membership, and apologize for cross-postings. Thank you.

The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) presents:

Architectural Records Symposium: Managing and Preserving Design Records Chicago, IL
July 16 & 17, 2007

Held at and cosponsored by the Chicago History Museum

About the Program

Architectural records are the vital documentation of our built environment and provide insight into social and economic trends throughout history. However, collecting, managing, preserving, and providing access to these records can often feel like a monumental task for those charged with their care. Speakers at this symposium will address the challenges involved in managing architectural records collections, on both theoretical and practical levels, through case studies, lectures, and demonstrations. Participants will learn about the significance of architectural records; the array of materials and methods used to create them, from the earliest processes to those in use today; collecting policies; appraisal; intellectual control; preventive and remedial preservation measures; innovations in conservation treatment; methods of access; management of electronic files; as well as have opportunities to engage in discussions with fellow participants who are managing similar collections.

This symposium is intended for archivists, librarians, curators, historic preservation officers, records managers, historians, and architects who are involved in collecting, preserving, and providing access to architectural, landscape, and historic preservation records in cultural institutions and architectural firms.

Presenters at the program include:

Lori Boyer, Collections Manager, Department of Architecture and Design, Art Institute of Chicago

Joan Irving, Head of Paper Section, Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts

Waverly Lowell, Curator, Environmental Design Archives, College of Environmental Design, University of California

William J. Maher, University Archivist, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tawny Ryan Nelb, Archivist and Records Consultant, Nelb Archival Consulting

Lois Olcott Price, Senior Conservator and Winterthur Assistant Professor in Art Conservation, Winterthur Museum and Country Estate

Laura Tatum, Archivist of the Eero Saarinen Collection Manuscript and archives, Sterling memorial Library, Yale University

William Whitaker, Collections Manager, Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania

Mary Woolever, Archivist, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago


CCAHA is pleased to offer a limited number of stipends of up to $750 to help defray travel, lodging, and registration costs associated with attending Architectural Records Symposium: Managing and Preserving Design Records. To be eligible, individuals must work in a non-profit institution that is open to the public with an annual operating budget of less than $500,000. In awarding the stipends, preference will be given to those applicants who are directly responsible for the care of the architectural records collected by their institution.

Stipend applications must be postmarked by June 1, 2007.

Applicants must submit:
* A one-page letter of interest that addresses their institution's need for staff training in this area and their commitment to preserving architectural records
* A brief institutional profile or brochure
* A brief description of architectural records held by the institution
* Proof of tax exempt status
* A letter of support from Director or President of Board of Trustees
* Applicant's resume

Applicants will be notified of the status of their application four weeks prior to the program. For additional information on the application process, please call the Preservation Services Office at 215-545-0613.

Registrations must be postmarked by 2 weeks prior to the program date.

Kelly Ferguson
Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts
264 South 23rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
P: 215.545.0613
F: 215.735.9313