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.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reflections on Writing-up #9

Make this book your bible.  It's simply BRILLIANT!  Definitely the most useful and easy-to-read 'how to get a PhD book' I've come across.

(Leicester students might like to note that an extra FIVE copies have been ordered for the University Library.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reflections on Writing-up #8

Keep a close eye on that word limit.  I'm already a masters dissertation-worth over, and still have masses to write.  ARGH!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Comments from the Curator!

Some of our more observant readers will remember our first (and last, if I can't get the editing software to work!) Podcast, last November, which comprised a (v noisy) discussion of the V&A's Cold War Modern exhibition. Well, the Curator of that exhibition, Jane Pavitt, heard the podcast and got in touch to respond to some of the questions we had raised. And she has very kindly agreed for me to post those comments here. Thanks Jane!


Dear all,

I am the curator of the Cold War Modern exhibition at the V&A - I was very pleased to come across the podcast of your discussion of our exhibition. It's very interesting for us to see the kinds of discussion that happens around and about the show, especially as Cold War Modern was quite an unusual project for the V&A.

I just thought I'd add some comments on some of your questions about the show (what we could hear amongst the cafe noise!)

You discuss the status of the exhibition (V&A generated, touring etc) - it was the result of a four year research project by myself and consultant curator David Crowley, and was part of a series of largescale 20th century design shows which the V&A has staged over the last ten years. As these are major undertakings for the V&A, they do provide the opportunity to borrow from a wide range of international collections (public and also private lenders) - as you saw, less than 20% was from the V&A's own collections, although we did acquire for the permanent collections where we could. The rest was from a collection of nearly 50 lenders (some of whom - especially the national museums - we work with on many projects). The exhibition was created solely by the V&A, and will tour to 2 further major museums this year (in Italy and Lithuania) - this goes some way to recouping the costs of such an undertaking.

Major lenders included the Pompidou, MOMA in New York, various German state museums, and museums in Italy, Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic, Holland, Russia, and elsewhere in the States.

The period scope of the show - 1945-70 - was determined by us as the key dates within which to locate post-war modernism (i.e.. as one of you rightly said, this didn't set out to be a history of the Cold War... but an exhibition of modern art and design). The ideas of the modern movement (ideas of utopia, progress, futurism and universalism) undergo a major crisis in the late 1960s, as we explore in the last gallery, and then implode in the early 1970s (marked by and perhaps precipitated by such diverse events as the Oil Crisis, and a host of post-1968 intellectual questions). This is why we rather provocatively titled the last section the 'last' utopians - suggesting that the very idea of utopia itself was perhaps inconceivable in the wake of this.

I was particularly interested to hear your comments on design as vision/ideal - and as lived reality. You are right that the show deals primarily with the former (but many things we show did enter the market...) We made the distinction in our thinking between a show on the material culture of the Cold War (another exhibition) and this - the idea of cold war modernity as a series of projections about future possible societies. Given the context of the V&A, we were not going to do a social history/material culture show (there is, however, a vast and rapidly expanding scholarship of Cold War material culture - you might want to look at the various publications by David Crowley on such themes as 'socialist luxury' and 'socialist space').

You're right too that Germany was a major feature for us - there weren't necessary more objects from Germany than elsewhere, but it has a consistent presence throughout the show, so perhaps was most visible. In museological terms, it is also the case that there are a large number of collections/archives/research centres investigating this subject.

And finally - another reason for our periodisation is that we are preparing another exhibition on the 1970s-1990s to follow (in 2011) on Postmodernism. Whilst every show tends to have a different set of objectives, we will return to some of the issues raised in this forthcoming show.....

Kind regards,
Jane Pavitt

Curator Cold War Modern/Postmodernism

Well, I for one, am really looking forward to the forthcoming Postmodernism exhibition.  Roll on 2011!

Repatriation: How Indigenous desire for repatriation has helped museums (Lecture)

From H-Museum:

Repatriation: How Indigenous desire for repatriation has helped museums
University of Western Australia, Law Lecture Theatre, Room 106
Mon, 9 Mar 2009 17:00

After 30 years of repatriation at the Australian Museum: what is the state of play in this area? How has it changed us? And what does the future hold? Who have been the winners and who, if any have been the losers? Repatriation is a complex and sometimes-bitter process, but one that has many outcomes, the vast majority of which are beneficial, not only for aboriginal people but for the museums themselves. During the presentation, I will discuss the process of repatriation and its history at the Australian Museum, as well as the unforeseen outcomes of this long-term relationship building exercise, between museums and indigenous people in Australia and the rest of the world.

Phil Gordon is the Aboriginal Heritage project officer at the Australian Museum, Sydney. He advises Aboriginal communities on issues such as Aboriginal Museum outreach and repatriation of Aboriginal human remains and other significant cultural property as well as providing advice for various government agencies, on cultural heritage issues and policy development.

CFP: Museum History Journal

From H-Museum:


The MUSEUM HISTORY JOURNAL is now accepting manuscripts for volume 3 of the journal.  Manuscripts for volume 3, no. 1 (published in January 2010) will be received and processed until 1 July 2009.  Manuscripts for volume 3, no. 2 (published in July 2010) will be received and processed until 1 December 2009.

The Museum History Journal is a refereed international publication of critical evaluative histories relating to museums published by Left Coast Press, Inc., Walnut Creek, CA.  In the past, museum history scholarship has appeared in academic journals from myriad disciplines, making scholarly discourse difficult. We are filling this void and serving as a forum for scholars interested in this exciting area of research.

Our definition of the term ?museum? includes not only a broad range of museum types, including natural history, anthropology, archaeology, fine art, history, medical, and science and technology, but also related cultural institutions, such as aquaria, zoos, botanical gardens, arboreta, nature centers, historical societies and sites, architectural sites, archives, and
planetariums. A variety of scholarly approaches, such as analytical, narrative, historical, cultural, social, quantitative, and intellectual, are being published.  

Areas of inquiry that are of interest include: cultural and social analyses that evaluate the impact of museums and/or related institutions in the context of a particular time period; intellectual histories that emphasize museum philosophy; architectural histories that investigate museum spaces in a cultural context; critical histories of museum-related professions?museum
management, collection management, curation, field collection, preparation, collections conservation, exhibit design, and education; the development, management, and use of collections; histories of exhibitions and public programs; abbreviated biographies of significant museum figures with emphasis on contributions made to respective institutions; professionalization of the myriad museum communities; and critical institutional histories.

We have been fortunate to assemble an outstanding international editorial board who represent the broad range of disciplines. The board, consisting of 36 members from 11 nations on six continents, represents our commitment to make this a truly international journal.

Instructions for authors can be found on the Left Coast Press, Inc., website at  The journal is co-edited by Hugh H. Genoways and Mary Anne Andrei.  Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to  Juliet Burba serves as Editor for Book Reviews.  Recommendation for books to be reviewed and indications of interests in writing reviews may be sent to

Conference Alert: Museums and Faith

From H-Museum:

ICOM / ICMAH Annual Conference 2009
"Museums and Faith"

organised by
ICOM’s International Committee for Museums and Collections of Archaeology and History (ICMAH)
and the
Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg
14-16 May 2009


The Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg (Luxembourg City History Museum) will be hosting the above conference. It will be organised as part of a support programme for the exhibition "A Matter of Faith. An Exhibition for Believers and Non-Believers". For more information on the Luxembourg City History Museum, please visit

Starting point and background of the conference

The times we live in are characterised by our highly ambivalent relationship with religion and faith. On the one hand, western societies are experiencing increased secularisation. This is countered, on the other hand, by a growing trend towards fundamentalism, also among Christians. Nevertheless, the subject of faith and religion appears so far to have occupied only a marginal place in cultural history museums and exhibitions. There are only a handful of establishments that explicitly tackle this subject. Worth mentioning are the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow, the Museum of World Religions in Taipei/Taiwan or the Bijbelsmuseum in Amsterdam. At the same time, numerous cultural history museums exhibit objects of faith outside of their religious context. Is the museum world scared of taking a stand with regard to the subject of faith?

The conference is using an exhibition, which has made its mark in this particular subject field, as a point of departure for raising the issue of how museum curators deal with the subject of faith. The exhibition “A Matter of Faith. An Exhibition for Believers and Non-Believers”, which was shown in the Lenzburg Stapferhaus in 2006/07 and is on display in an adapted version at the Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg in 2008/09, illustrates individual practices of faith and invites visitors to identify their own personal ideas via a test of faith. The elaborate display of sacred objects involved in the Luxembourg cult of the Virgin Mary lends an additional historical dimension to the exhibition. The particular approach of the exhibition is also of significance for our conference.

The conference "Museums and faith" calls upon critically reflective museum curators. It is not intended to focus on religious history or anthropology.
More specifically, the conference "Museums and faith" will be contemplating and discussing innovative and stimulating practical examples under the following four focus points:

1. Museums in the area of tension between faith and society
It has become a common catchphrase to talk of a "clash of cultures" or a "clash of religions". Major cities in Europe as well as in America are characterised by the juxtaposition and often the opposition of religions. To what extent do museums / exhibitions take a stand in these negotiation processes? Do they assume the role of neutral observers, of chroniclers? Or do they intervene, moderately or even taking sides?
Can and should museums explore the depth of faith?

2. Can historical experiences of faith be exhibited?
To what extent can individual experiences of faith in fact be represented by means of historical observation? (To what extent) can this even be communicated to an audience that is no longer religious?

3. Faith in contemporary art
How does contemporary art broach the issue of faith, between blasphemy and provocation on the one hand and individual professions of faith on the other hand? What can curators of cultural history museums learn from the approach adopted by contemporary art museums?

4. Secular museum objects, sacred museum objects
Whenever a Christian church is no longer used for worship, it must first be "deconsecrated", so that it can subsequently be used for secular purposes. What happens to objects originally used for religious rites? What about their religious content? Does this disappear once they are transferred to a museum or an exhibition? As museum objects they are secular objects per se, but is there not something that “remains” nevertheless? Altar pieces, for instance, can trigger reflective meditation in a museum. Likewise, religious objects deposited in a museum can be made available to people for religious ceremonies. How do museum curators deal with this? Do they act as intermediaries between the religious and the secular? How much faith do curators allow in their museums?

For programme and registration form click here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Social Networking for Museums

Haven't had a chance to investigate/digest this news yet, but the BBC is reporting that a group of UK museums have joined together to launch a social networking site this week.  Sounds really interesting...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Conference Alert: Rethinking the Maritime Museum

From H-Museum:


Developments - Perspectives - Challenges

Tagung / Conference, 20.-23.05.2009
Aabenraa & Flensburg

The maritime museum is well established in the world of museums. For 150 years this kind of museum has made its unique presence, developed its own way of understanding and telling maritime history. Like the maritime world, maritime museums are global. They have established an international pattern, and the items on show and stories they tell do not vary that much. You will find a familiar feel to the maritime museum, regardless of whether it is in Sweden or Argentina. 

Facing new social and economic challenges the maritime museums have to ask themselves if they can sharpen up or refine their profile in order to reach out to new audiences without losing their traditional visitor groups. Based on the historical development of the maritime museums, the conference will address various questions. They will range from the traditional matters of
collections, stories and exhibitions to the broader questions of the construction and significance of a maritime identitty in modern society. The interaction between museums and tourism will also be examined, as will the links between museums and local activists.

Click on the following link for conference programme and information about how to register: 

Conference Alert: Enabling Diversity Sustaining Development

From H-Museum:

Enabling Diversity Sustaining Development
The 2nd International Conference on the Inclusive Museum
The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
8-11 July 2009

The Inclusive Museum Conference is held annually in different locations around the world. The inaugural Conference was held at the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, The Netherlands in June 2008. It is a participants' Conference, including numerous thematic streams. The 2nd Conference on the Inclusive Museum will be held at the University of Queensland, Brisbane. An
outstanding group of diverse museum leaders and specialists will deliver plenary addresses. The Organising Committee is inviting proposals to present 30-minute papers, 60-minute workshops or 90 minute colloquium sessions. These can be academic papers with a theory or research focus, or presentations of practice describing educational initiatives. The deadline for the next round of proposals for peer evaluation is the 23rd of February. Presenters may choose to submit written papers to the International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, a fully refereed academic Journal
<>. Virtual participants also have the option to submit papers for consideration by the Journal. All registered Conference participants receive a complimentary online subscription to the Journal when registration is finalised. This subscription is valid until one year after the Conference end date. 

If you would like to know more about this Conference, bookmark the Inclusive Museum Conference <>  site and return for further information? the site is regularly updated. You may also wish to subscribe to the Conference and Journal Newsletter <>

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

CFP: Invisible History of Exhibitions

From H-ArtHist:

21-22 May 2009, Budapest project


"Invisible History of Exhibitions", a symposium organized (HU) aims at the formation of shared knowledge and discourse on Eastern European art exhibitions from the 1960s until now.The framework of this project is a long-term international collaboration, "art always has its consequences", that focuses on invisible, alternative histories through exhibition history, artists' texts, archives, and conceptual design, which have had restricted international visibility and accessibility so far and thus are often missing from the canonized narratives of contemporary art.

The symposium investigates the history and the current interpretations of the exhibition, as the dominant format of contemporary art production and presentation. "History" in this context is interpreted as a group of constructed narratives based on events that constitute shifts in
the notions of art (art history) and the modes of its presentation (exhibition history). In Eastern Europe progressive art events between 1945 and 1989 could often only happen in the "second
publicity", so they are embedded in the historical conditions of the public sphere. While in western countries mainstream art institution hosted curatorial group exhibitions that constitute the landmarks in the history of exhibitions, in Eastern Europe paradigmatic events
often happened in private flats and off-site spaces outside of official art institutions. Consequently, a different methodology must be introduced to be able to include Eastern-European events in the international discourse of exhibition history.

The symposium presents historical and contemporary case studies describing paradigmatic art events that significantly affected our understanding of exhibitions. Examples of Eastern-European art practices are suggested to be related to such topics of the international theoretical and curatorial discourse as:

* the spatial and temporal nature of the exhibition
* the ephemeral qualities and methodologies of reconstruction and documentation
* the role of the location from site-specificity to institutional critique
* authorship and artistic-, curatorial-, visitor positions
* exhibition as a historical, ideological, or political construction in relation to the transformations of the public sphere
* the collective/unifying concept and representation of Eastern-European art

Together with the symposium we intend to launch an Eastern-European online database of exhibitions. The first items in the database will be the references of the speakers at the conference and in the future the archive will grow by the submissions of other invited and
voluntary contributors.

The language of the symposium is English. Speakers are invited by the organizers and selected from the applications submitted to call below. The papers of the symposium will be published on 


If you are interested in participating in the symposium with a paper please submit a 200 word abstract.

Please send your proposal to  until 15 MARCH 2009.

concept: Dora Hegyi, Zsuzsa Laszlo, Emese Suvecz

Supported by the EU's Culture 2007 Program.
tranzit is a contemporary art initiative supported by Erste Bank Group

Museums and Capital Development: project planning and delivery

Museum and Capital Projects Flyer (1)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Heritage - Opportunity for Writers

From Book News, The Monthly E-Bulletin for Leicester Libraries February 2009

****Heritage - Opportunity for Writers****
As part of The Lyric Lounge WORD! are seeking seven emerging talents to write and perform new work, inspired by museum objects. Commissioned poets will be paid £200 each and attend six closely mentored workshops, between April and July 09, with renowned poet and director, Kevin Fegan. Their finished work will be professionally set to music and visuals and performed as 'The Heritage Show' one of 7 high profile 'Lyric Lounge' nights. an audition to select participants for 'Heritage'. The audition will be held as part of WORD! on 3rd March. For more information please contact Pam Thompson, via:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The End of the 24 Hour Museum (website)

It is almost the end for the 24 Hour Museum website and the beginning of Culture 24! Check out the new site here -

At the moment the website is still in its BETA stage until its official launch in May 2009 however it will be live for 12 weeks for testing and the creators of the site are looking for feedback. Email any thoughts or comments to

(Information from the GEM List)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Museum Bloggers: Expateek

Just popping in to let you all know about an excellent blog written by a current MA Museum Studies distance-learning student. She, and it, go by the name Expateek - I shan't give her real name as she blogs anonymously, but I'm sure she won't mind if I tell you all that she's lived all over the world thanks to her husband's job (hence the 'Expat' prefix), is currently in Poland but due, very soon, to move back to the U.S.

Anyway, her blog is an excellent mix of humorous - she has a wild imagination! - and moving musings on her daily life, which has, to say the least, been rather eventful in the last few years (check out the South Africa posts for starters). Naturally, she also blogs about museums (see links below). And clearly has as much of an eye for the unusual as the Attic team. ;)

MUMOK, Vienna #1
MUMOK, Vienna #2
MUMOK, Vienna #3
Natural History Museum, Vienna #1
Natural History Museum, Vienna #2
Antalya Museum, Turkey
National Museum, Bucharest


Credit Crunch affects Museum plans

A while ago there were all these grand plans to create a Museum of 'Britishness' which would, naturally, celebrate the wonder that is the history of the British Isles. It always made me wonder what grand narrative they would come up with for that one but sadly we might not ever find out. For, unlike the purchase of the Titian painting, the credit crunch appears to have a negative effect on the plans for a British Museum, sorry Museum of Britain, and instead it will be a much more modest affair.

From the press release:

Roy Clare, MLA Chief Executive said: “The idea for a Museum Centre for British History presents a very exciting opportunity at an affordable price. Our consultation has brought us to a conclusion that the most stimulating and cost-effective way of meeting the objective for a museum that interprets Britain’s story would be to develop innovative access to the fantastic collections held in existing museums, heritage sites, libraries and archives across Britain. Many of these are publicly-funded and can work together under scholarly leadership to present Britain’s history in many places."

“The Museum Centre for British History would be a national federated organisation (including museums, universities, scholars, research institutions etc), supported by a very small staff working in existing premises, that would pull together research, planning and programming around the theme of Britain’s story.”

So, in other words, it will be an attempt to co-ordinate more centrally what is already happening across the country *grin*. Read the press release here which goes into more detail and suggests that a Museum still might be viable in the future.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

CFP: ASA09, Revisting Victorian Anthropology?

ASA09: Anthropological and archaeological imaginations: past, present and future
Bristol, UK

Re-visiting Victorian anthropology? Imagining the past through a unifying science
Location TBA
Date and Time TBA
Chris Wingfield (University of Oxford)
Chris Gosden 

Short Abstract

Victorian Anthropology was widely promoted as a unifying science of the human past. Today questions of the past and of science once again loom large and papers in this session will address what we share, as well as what we do not, with these re-discovered ancestors from before 1922.

Long Abstract

In 1987 George Stocking published Victorian Anthropology, bringing light to the development of the subject in a period often ignored or dismissed by disciplinary histories of British Social Anthropology. Victorian Anthropology was promoted by E.B. Tylor, the 'father of anthropology', as a 'unifying science' that could connect ' into a more manageable whole the scattered subjects of an ordinary education.' Unlike the more specialized discipline of Social Anthropology in the twentieth century, Victorian Anthropology was as an umbrella subject drawing on a range of sources, including archaeology, to re-construct the long-term human past. Although self-consciously historicist, Stocking's work has inevitably influenced anthropology and related subjects over the last two decades.

Recent research at the Pitt Rivers Museum, including a three year ESRC research project: The Other Within: An Anthropology of Englishness, has sought to confront the inheritances involved in the museum's legacy as an institution founded by Victorian Anthropologists. We hope that papers in this session will similarly attempt to re-visit Stocking's work, as well as Victorian anthropology itself, in the light of current research. We expect papers not only to attempt an understanding of the work of Victorian anthropologists in terms of the questions with which they grappled, but to also ask how those questions relate to those we ask ourselves today: in particular questions about how anthropology deals with the past, as well as its scientific foundations. The session should address both the similarities and the profound differences between our current situation and that of these re-discovered Victorian ancestors.

Propose a paper

Publication: Museum History Journal

From H-Museum:

Museum History Journal

Edited by Hugh H. Genoways and Mary Anne Andrei

January 2009
Vol. 2, N. 1

Table of Contents

*From the Editors*

*Feature Articles*

Wax Bodies: Art and Anato my in Victorian Medical Museums
Samuel J. M. M. Alberti

Narrativity and the Museological: Myths of Nationality
Donald Preziosi

Matter of Fact: Biographies and Zoological Specimens
Taika Dahlbom

Frederic Ward Putnam, Chicago's Cultural Philanthropists, and the Founding
of the Field Museum
Paul D. Brinkman

*Book Reviews*

Museum Skepticism: A History of the Display of Art In Public Galleries by
David Carrier
reviewed by Bruce Robertson

Museums in Motion: An Introduction to the History and Functions of Museums,
second edition by Edward P. Alexander and Mary Alexander
reviewed by Suzanne M. Fischer

Return to Alexandria: An Ethnography of Cultural Heritage, Revivalism, and
Museum Memory by Beverley Butler
reviewed by Tiffany Jenkins

All Creatures: Naturalists, Collectors, and Biodiversity, 1850 - 1950 by
Robert E. Kohler
reviewed by Charlotte M. Porter


Earliest known photographic portraits of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln,
celebrating the bicentennial of their births on February 9, 2009

TO ORDER this issue or to subscribe to the bi-annual Museum History Journal,
visit our website at:

Journal ISSN: 1936-9824
Issue ISBN: 978-1-59874-828-4

For more information, contact Stefania Van Dyke at

Stefania R. Van Dyke
Museum Studies and Practice
Left Coast Press, Inc.
Journal orders: 925-935-3380
Book orders: 800-426-3979
Fax: 925 935-2916
1630 N. Main Street #400
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Seminar: Podcasting for Museums & Galleries

From H-Museum:

Podcasting for Museums and Galleries

One Day Seminar Estorick Collection
Central London
Tuesday 17 March 2009

Podcasting for Museums and Galleries is an intensive, information-packed event which - to maximise learning and interaction - is limited to just 24 museum and gallery participants. It will be led by Rachel Salaman, one of the UK's leading podcast producers who has worked both with leading museums and galleries and with major companies.

The seminar will take participants through the complete audio podcasting process from start to finish and will incorporate practical demonstrations as well as actionable, in-depth information and advice. There will be the opportunity to discuss your organisation's particular requirements, and to get invaluable advice on your needs, your approach and your requirements.

During the course of the day, the following key issues will be covered:

    * An introduction to podcasting and how it is being used in the culture and heritage sectors
    * Examples of successful culture and heritage podcast projects
    * Tooling up: the equipment and software you need to get started
    * How to write an effective podcast script
    * Interviewing techniques
    * Demonstration of how to make a podcast, from start to finish
    * RSS and distribution: demystifying feeds and tracking
    * Marketing your podcast and reaching your audience

You'll also be able to raise in advance any issues you'd particularly like covered, so that the day will really meet your needs. This will be a unique, intensive and highly-rewarding event. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Rachel Salaman
Rachel Salaman is founder and creative director of the podcasting consultancy AUDIO for the web, and one of the UK's leading podcast producers. Previously an award-winning journalist, she has worked as a reporter for the BBC, TIME Magazine and Dow Jones Newswires, and as a producer and presenter on UK commercial radio.

She has created content for clients as diverse as multinational corporations and UK government departments, while her script development and voiceover work includes radio and TV ads, informational videos and multimedia business tools.

Rachel has substantial experience of working with the heritage sector having provided podcasting training and advice to staff from the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, National Maritime Museum, Bodleian Library, MLA East Midlands, National Trust, Sheffield Galleries and Museums and Maidstone Museum.

Who Should Attend?
Professionals with responsibility for - or a requirement to enhance - their institution's work in the field of: interpretation, presentation, education, audience development, communication, fundraising, marketing, outreach, community relations, online services, or information services.

The Estorick Collection
The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, is a hidden gem in Islington's beautiful Canonbury Square - an imaginatively restored Georgian villa set beside a landscaped garden. The gallery houses "one of the finest collections of early 20th century Italian art anywhere in the world"
(Nicholas Serota) and has been called "the most civilised way to spend an hour in North London" (Stephen Bayley).

It's extremely easy to reach, being just minutes from Euston, St Pancras International and Kings Cross mainline stations.

Only 24 places are available at this event. Do avoid disappointment and register today!

Delegate fee: £247.

Symposium: Collectors, Collections and Collecting the Art of Ancient China

From H-Museum:

Harn Eminent Scholar Symposium
University of Florida
Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
February 20-22, 2009

Collectors, Collections and Collecting the Art of Ancient China: Histories and Challenges

This symposium will bring together for the first time at the University of Florida a distinguished group of eminent scholars and curators from Asian art museums and universities in North America and United Kingdom to discuss the topics of collectors, collections and collecting of Chinese art in the West. Western collecting of Chinese art gained momentum in the nineteenth
century and has been changing with the growth and the decline of colonialism in Asia and the wax and wane of the international relationship between China and the West. In recent years, with the economic development, auction houses and private collecting flourished in China. The Chinese government at the same time increased their effort to safeguard its cultural heritage. For example, the People’s Republic of China formally requested the United States State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee to place an embargo on all exported archaeological and cultural heritage properties. These new developments along with the changes in the academic and museum professional world challenge in many respects the western modes of collecting and exhibiting Chinese art.

February 20, 2009

6:00-8:00 pm Keynote Address
CARP-on: Further Thoughts on Chinese Art Provenance Research
Nick Pearce (Professor of Chinese Art History, Director, Institute for Art
History, Glasgow University)

February 21, 2009

9:00-11:30am Panel I: Early Collections
Chair and Discussant:  Guolong Lai

On the conception of "art" and "archaeology" in the formation of the Museum
of Far Eastern Antiquities, and beyond
Magnus Fiskesjö (Former Director of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities,
Stockholm; Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Cornell

Chicago and China: Cross-Cultural Awareness, Academic Exchange, 1900-1950
Elinor Pearlstein (Associate Curator of Chinese Art, The Art Institute of

From Mementos to Masterpieces: The Chinese Collections of the Harvard Art
Robert D. Mowry (Alan J. Dworsky Curator of Chinese Art at Harvard
University's Arthur M. Sacker Museum)

The Early Formation of the Chinese Collection at the RISD Museum of Art
Deborah Del Gais (Curator of Asian Art, the RISD Museum, Rhode Island School
of Design)

Lunch Break (11:30am-12:30pm)

12:30-3:00pm Panel II: Collectors and Connoisseurs
Chair and Discussant: Glenn G. Willumson (Associate Professor of Art
History, Director of Museum Studies Program, School of Art and Art History,

A Unique Pair: The Bronze Rhinoceros and Its Collector, Avery Brundage
Jay Xu (Director, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco)

Stewart Culin (1858-1929): At the Forefront of Chinese Vernacular Culture in
Amy G. Poster (Curator Emerita of Asian Art, Brooklyn Museum)

Luo Zhenyu's Collection in Asia and the West
Nixi Cura (Course Director, Arts of China, Christie's Education, London)

Florence Ayscough (1878-1942): A Pioneer of Promoting Modern Chinese
Painting in America
Zaixin Hong (Associate Professor of Art History, The University of Puget

3:10-5:00pm Panel III: Challenges in Collecting Chinese Art
Chair and Discussant: Nick Pearce

Collecting Chinese Ceramics in the 21st Century: A Historical Perspective
Stacey Pierson (Lecturer in Chinese Ceramics, Department SOAS, University of

Collecting Ancient Chinese Artworks at the Royal Ontario Museum: Past,
Present, and Future
Chen Shen (Senior Curator, Ancient Chinese Archaeology, Royal Ontario
Museum, Canada)

Collecting and Provenance: Chinese Art at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
Jason Steuber (Cofrin Curator of Asian Art, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art,


February 20-21, 2009
The Auditorium of the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art The University of
Florida, Gainesville, Florida

The Harn Eminent Scholar Chair in Art History Program of the School of Art
and Art History The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art

Guolong Lai (Assistant Professor, School of Art and Art History, UF)
Jason Steuber (Cofrin Curator of Asian Art, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art,

CFP: Objects - What Matters?

From H-Museum:

Call for papers

Objects - What Matters? Technology, Value and Social Change
University of Manchester
1-4 September 2009

As contemporary social theorists continue to signal the need to reconfigure our deliberations on the social through attention to practice, to object-mediated relations, to non-human agency and to the affective dimensions of human sociality, this conference takes as its focus the objects and values which find themselves at centre stage.

And we ask, in the context of nearly two decades of diverse disciplinary
approaches to these issues, what matters about objects? How are they
inflecting our understandings of technology, of expertise, and of social
change? How has a focus on objects reconfigured our understandings of how
values inflect the ways in which people make relations, create social
worlds, and construct conceptual categories? How have objects become
integral to human enthusiasms and energies, to transformational ambition, or
to the transmission of values across time and space? How do objects move
between ordinary and extraordinary states, shade in and out of significance,
manifest instability and uncertainty? How do moral and material values
attach to objects as they move in space and time? What dimensions do they
inhabit and/or reveal?

To address these questions we welcome papers on the following themes:

The transformational work of everyday objects
Object-centered learning
Materiality, Stability and the State
Radical Archives - within and beyond textual assemblages
Conceptual Objects and Methods as Objects
Immaterial Objects - haunting, virtuality, traces.
Financial Objects
Affective Objects
Ephemera, Enthusiasm and Excess
Spiritual and/or Moral Objects
Controversial and Messy Objects

Please submit either (a) proposal for individual papers, or (b) panel
proposal including 3 papers by the end of February 2009. Guidelines and
Proposal Forms are available here and should be sent to:

CRESC Conference Administration
178 Waterloo Place, Oxford Road
University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL
Tel: +44(0)161 275 8985 / Fax: +44(0)161 275 8985

Conference Organisers:
Conference Administrators: Bussie Awosanya and Karen Ho
Conference Manager: Josine Opmeer

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Let it Snow

Snow is a big event in the UK and we had some recently in Leicester. It probably seems paltry compared to other cities however this is the best we can hope for! Below are some pictures of the Department looking rather picturesque.

New History Lab @ Leicester: Spring term schedule

As promised in my last post, here's the New History Lab schedule for the next few months.  All sessions take place on Fridays, 16:20-18:00, in Seminar Rm at 1, Salisbury Road.  Tea and cake provided!

Prof. Andrew King
How do we know something...or what do scientists think they're doing?

Siobhan Begley and Tim Davies
What have you discovered?

Gervase French and Chris Williams
What happened here?  (Walking tour of Sheffield)

Dr Tristram Hunt (yes, 'tis true!)
Lecture: Marx, Engels and Manchester

Why DO we love Leicester?

Beaconsfield Road, Leicester

Bovril Ghost Sign, off Narborough Road, by Me!

Ceri and I went along to the New History Lab, last Friday, for a really fascinating talk from Colin Hyde, of the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA), and Cynthia Brown, about why they love Leicester.  Really, you should all come along next time (I'll post the schedule in a bit) - they have tea and cake and pink armbands!!!!

Anyway, Colin's talk particularly fascinated me, because it was illustrated with photographs of Leicester, showing how it has changed and developed over the last hundred years or so.  Malcolm - of the History Lab - has posted a link to one of Colin's EMOHA websites, which documents, by way of photographs and audio recordings, the interiors of some of Leicester's more unusual landmarks; it's barber-shops, cafes and factories.  It's called Semper Eadem (always the same) - for the uninitiated, that's the city of Leicester's motto.  Definitely well worth a look.

Colin's talk also highlighted, for me, the impact of the growth of digital photography and opportunities to store and share images online.  In years to come, social and architectural historians, will have an enormous wealth of visual information available to them.  And not just the big, apparently significant things, but all the small, prosaic, often overlooked stuff; the things that make the city look like it does.  Turns out that Colin is a bit of a ghost sign aficionado, like me.  (I will write about my 'collection' in Collector's Corner soon, promise).  But there are many others documenting the 'minor details' on a regular basis, recognising the importance of its industrial heritage and making the results accessible to all through photo-sharing sites like Flickr.  See here, here, here, here and here for a few examples.  This is why I love Leicester.

The last set of photos are mine, btw.  :)

Henry VIII re-assessed

There seems to be a lot about Henry VIII in the news at the moment. First of all the Royal Armouries has re-measured his suits of armour and debunked one of the 'facts' about Henry VIII as myth that I have clung to since I was about 5 years old... that Henry VIII was so fat that he had to be winced into bed by a crane. Reported in The Times, Graeme Rimer, academic director of the Royal Armouries, said.

“The armour tells us unequivocally that he was 6ft 1in and that he was pretty enormous but still vigorous at the end of his life.”

The popular idea of the ageing Henry having to be hoisted on to his horse with a crane is also “nonsense”. “There is no evidence that he was incapacitated in any way by his weight; the armour suggests that he was still riding and still active late in life.”

I've never liked Henry VIII for all his supposed forward-thinking ideas about Church and State, which were in reaction to his desire to have a male child rather than any real adherence to the new faith sweeping England as far as I can tell. Which is why I was interested to see in The Guardian today a kind of apology for the man who, in my opinion, is more like a tyrant than the 'moderniser and nationaliser' depicted in this short article. Have they not read their History? Perhaps the result of Henry's reign was what Guardian journalists might recognise as a modern nation however I do not think it was planned by Henry, nor was it entirely due to him as for the men who served him (most of them in fear of their heads at one time or another). Another example of how history is used to justify the present - it 'was meant to be this way.'

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Resource: Cabinet Papers Archive Online

Quick heads-up...British Cabinet Papers from 1915-1978 have been made available via the National Archives website.

Reflections on writing-up #7

For heaven's sake, BACK-UP YOUR WORK!!!!

Farewell Postmodern welcome Altermodern

I was idly wondering the other day if we had come to the end of the Postmodern and what would replace it if we had. Well it seems that the Tate has the answer - we are passing into the Altermodern . According to the curator Nicolas Bourriaud (referenced in the Guardian) the Altermodern is:

an "other" modern – a rootless modernism for the 21st century, a synthesis of modernism and post-colonialism, in which the artist "turns cultural nomad".
In other words - there are no boundaries:
"There are no longer roots to sustain forms, no exact cultural base to serve as a benchmark for variations, no nucleus, no boundaries for artistic language", says Bourriaud
So a 'zombie-Western' seems perfectly reasonable in that context.
Quite how different this is to Postmodernism I am not entirely sure yet, although it suggests to me that instead of being all ironic and distanced about things, kind of sneering as Postmodernism seemed to its detractors, it might be more playful and imaginative and creative for joyful reasons - which seems to me especially relevant as we head into economic meltdown and the supposed turn towards the 'fantastical' as a means of coping with the horror of reality (or something like that!).

New director of the MMA

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a new director, and he gave an interview to the Grauniad. Interesting ideas about how to cope with the shrinking economy; are we going to see new collections-focused propaganda as a result? "Focus on collections as cultural value, don't waste public money by building knowledge in exhibitions!"
... no doubt, the conservators are happy.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Museum blogs and podcasts

I've recently added a couple of widgets, provided by Ideum's excellent Museum Blogs directory, that list and give access to the latest posts and podcasts from a diverse and growing range of museum and museum-related blogs.  You'll find them in the right-hand column (scroll down the page).  If you come across a particularly good blog, or interesting podcast, why not let us know?

Titian saved for the nation

Further to Jen's post in November - by far The Attic's most popular blog post EVAR!!! - the BBC reports that £50m funds have been secured to purchase Titian's 'Diana and Acteon' for the nation.

Read more here.