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

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dissertation Haiku

A poetic project designed to bring a little enlightenment to the hard slog of grad school: Dissertation Haiku. I'm considering doing my whole thesis in haiku, now, as a sort of tribute to my early life as a poet...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Blog: Museos Unite

Readers in North America might be interested in some of the issues highlighted by Museos Unite, a new blog created by (a least a couple of?) recent Leicester MA grads. Their mission is to '[end] the tyranny of low (or nonexistant) salaries for highly skilled museum studies graduates wanting to work in the museum sector'.

Wishing you success in your campaign Ladies!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Grand and Secret Order of Museum People

I was talking to my boyfriend today about convocations and degree ceremonies, and he was showing me his diplomas. Along with his engineering degree, he had framed the vow taken by engineers. Apparently, it was written by Rudyard Kipling, so imagine for yourselves the quality of the prose... He also has a ring, and apparently, the whole ceremony was secret! Apparently, Canadian engineers are like Freemasons, or something. Now, being of an anarchical nature, I found this weird, just as I find the ring ceremony undertaken by Canadian Human Ecologists (no, we don't grow people, it used to be called Home Economics but then the name was changed to be less dowdy and better reflect the interest in humans and their near environment) uncomfortably reminiscent of the Catholic custom of nuns wearing rings to symbolize their attachment to God and the Church.

But then, I got to thinking: if anyone needs a secret ceremony attached to an oath of professional conduct and some fancy jewelry (material culture!), it should be the museologists. Do we have a secret ceremony that I don't yet know about? As Leicester is the oldest programme graduating museologists, I think it should start this custom.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TV programmes: Framed

The trailer for a new BBC drama caught my eye. From the press release:

Set almost entirely in Wales, Framed tells the story of 10-year-old Dylan Hughes and his family's struggle to keep their small petrol station, which sits at the foot of a mountain in North Wales, afloat.
Manod village is a rain-soaked community where hope is thin on the ground, and money even thinner. When Dylan's dad suddenly leaves home, things get even tougher for him, his sisters Minnie and Marie, baby brother Max, and his mother.
Da's departure however, coincides with the secretive arrival of a convoy of men and trucks, who take residence on top of the mountain. The villagers discover that the National Gallery in London has been flooded, and the priceless paintings sent by the lorry load to Wales for safe storage in the bowels of the old slate mine inside Manod mountain (as they were back in the Second World War).
In charge of this is Lester, an intelligent but uptight art curator who prefers paintings to people. That is, until a funny and pivotal misunderstanding leads him to invite Dylan to view the paintings inside the mountain. What ensues is good news for both Lester and the rather depressed town of Manod.
Manod develops an interest in art and Lester develops an interest in Manod, in the form of the lovely Angharad, the local school teacher. Through the transformative power of art, Manod starts to transform itself, beginning with the service station, where Mam and the children revive the flagging fortunes of the petrol station by broadening the services they offer into catering and a coffee bar.
However, despite everybody's best efforts, the petrol station faces closure when the family fail to generate enough cash to keep it going. Could an audacious art theft solve their problems?

The 'transformative power of art'? That old chestnut? Oh dear. *shakes head in despair* Still, worth watching, yay or nay?

Seminar: Museums, the cultural industries and social inclusion

***Please support this seminar organised by Anna W!***

Call for Attendees

Seminar: 'Museums, the cultural industries and social inclusion: outlining and unearthing alternative perspectives'

Tuesday 20th October 2009, Sackler Centre, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Supported by ESRC and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

We would like to invite you to attend a one day seminar 'Museums, the cultural industries and social inclusion: outlining and unearthing alternative perspectives’, supported by the ESRC and Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The seminar will take place on Tuesday 20th October 2009, at the Sackler Centre, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The seminar will explore the significance of museums to the fulfilment of social inclusion/cohesion agendas and to regeneration and cultural industry initiatives. Recent research examining the significance of museums to social inclusion and cohesion will be presented, along with reflections on how the social role and impact of museums can be variously theorised and the practical barriers that may limit museums acting as agents of social inclusion and cohesion. The seminar will also address the relationships between this use and the demands placed on museums by their adoption as agents of growth and regeneration. The seminar is orientated towards outlining and drawing together the insights and concerns of academic research, museum professions and policy makers. It is hoped that the seminar, will provide a stimulus for further reflection and collaboration between these groups.

Confirmed speakers include: Andrew Newman (University of Newcastle), Suzanne McLeod (University of Leicester), Sue Wilkinson (MLA), Andy Pratt (LSE), and Paul Jones (University of Liverpool).

Attendance at the seminar is free, however places are limited.

If you would like to attend please contact Anna Woodham ( for a booking form and/or further information.

Monday, August 24, 2009

World Heritage and Tourism: Announcement & CFP

We are pleased to announce and CFP for the following forthcoming international conference:

world heritage and tourism:

Managing for the global and the local

3-4 June 2010, Quebec City, Canada

As of 2009, approximately 900 sites are registered on the UNESCO World Heritage list. For many sites inscription on the World Heritage List acts as a promotional device and the management challenge is one of protection, conservation and dealing with increased numbers of tourists. For other sites, designation has not brought anticipated expansion in tourist numbers and associated investments. What is clear is that tourism is now a central concern to the wide array of stakeholders involved with World Heritage Sites. We increasingly need to understand the multi-layered relationships between the diverse range of Sites and tourism and tourists and, to focus on how tourism is effectively managed for the benefit of all.

This conference seeks to explore a series of critical and fundamental questions being raised by the various 'owners', managers and local communities involved with World Heritage Sites in relation to tourism: Why do tourists visit some World Heritage Sites and not others? What is the tourist experience of such Sites? How successful are Sites in the management of tourists? What roles do local communities play in Site management? How can the 'spirit of place' be protected in the face of the sheer volume of tourists? How can some Sites maximize the potential of a sustainable tourism for the purposes of poverty alleviation and community cohesion? How effective are communication strategies in bringing stakeholders together? What management skills are needed to address the needs of different stakeholders, different sites and different cultures?

We encourage papers from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives and welcome submissions which address theoretical, empirical, methodological, comparative and practical perspectives on the fullest array of themes associated with the management of UNESCO World Heritage.


Original papers are invited to consider subject areas including, but not limited to, the following themes:

* Marketing in the management of World Heritage Sites;

* The pragmatics of managing tourists;

* Financing World Heritage;

* Community involvement in Site management;

* Relations between intangible cultural heritage and Site management;

* The role of the private tourism sector;

* The nature of tourist experience and behaviour at World Heritage Sites;

* Shaping local, regional and national identities through Site inscription;

* Issues of governance and transnational regulation;

* Legal rights and notions of 'ownership';

* The management of World Heritage 'values';

* The geo-politics of inclusion and exclusion;

* Methods of Site evaluation;

* Managing spiritual values and biodiversity;

* The role of UNESCO and the political economies of designation.

Please submit your 500 words abstract (in French or English) including a title and full contact details as an electronic file to Professor Maria Gravari-Barbas (<> <<>> ) or Laurent Bourdeau (<> <<>> ) as soon as possible but no later than 15 December 2009.

Publication opportunity: Papers accepted for the conference will be published in the conference proceedings, subject to author registration. Best papers from the conference will also be considered for publication in a special issue of the Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change <> .

Conference Organisers: UNESCO/UNITWIN NETWORK for Culture, Tourism and Development, the Faculty of Business Administration at Université Laval, the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and the Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change at Leeds Metropolitan University.

For further details on the conference at a later stage please visit <> or <> or email to<>


Daniela Carl

Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change

Faculty of Arts & Society

Leeds Metropolitan University

Old School Board

Calverley Street




phone +44 (0)113- 812 8541

fax +44 (0)113- 812 8544


Ukemi Painting and Night Rainbows

A couple of weeks ago I was passing through Salzburg and had a couple of hours to spare so of course had to pop by the Museum, as it had won the European Musem of the Year 2009 Award. Unofrtunatly as I didn't have a whole lot of time i spent most of my time in the 2 galleries which drew my attention most. Those of you who know me will no be surprised to hear that these were a Japanese art exhibition, and a photography exhibition by a Japanese artist. I didn'thave my camera (who goes on holiday without a camera?!) but thanks to google I have attached some video and images for those interested. Anyway... the photography was on rainbows and night rainbows (had to buy the book the idea was so cracking lol) by Junji Takasago and i have to say it was very impressive. The idea that rainbows can be seen at night is pretty awesome. The selection displayed were photos from New Zealand and Hawaii... polynesian places always get the coolest weather things! If you have a look at his website be sure to check out the gallery of rainbows and aurora.
The Art of Japan exhibition was to celebrate the 140 years of friendship between Austria and Japan, and contained a wide variety of decorative arts and traditional prints. The main artist shown was Ando Hiroshige
There were kimono's from the traditional theatre, photography of modern architecture, ceramics, and a video demonstrating Ukemi painting. This caught my attention and I really like sitting watching it... i generally don't have the patience to watch the whole of videos in mueums for some reason. Ukemi painting is kind of using your body to paint by doing Ukemi Judo rolls. It reminded me of painting with your feet and hands when you were a kind and got to walk about on wallpaper with poster pain squidging between your toes. I can imagine that Ukemi painting is just as satifying (the pink paint/crossroads one definately would be, see below).There was meant to be a live preformance by Yuji Sasaki and his team of this painting process this weekend but i havent found anything on YouTube of it yet... instead here is the video from the gallery and also another one i found quite interesting :) Enjoy!
Ukemi Blue
Ukemi Pink Crossroads

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Director of Fun!

A 6 year-old has been named a member of the Board of Directors of the National Railway Museum in York. So, can I get hired because of my cuteness and enthusiasm? I want to be director of fun at the Met!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Follow the Leader

Follow Head of the School of Museum Studies, Richard Sandell, on Twitter by clicking here.

Conference Alert: Engaging Communities Conference (Newcastle/UK, 3-4 December 2009)

The International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies at Newcastle University is announcing a two-day graduate / postgraduate conference on the theme of engaging communities, 3rd - 4th December 2009.

This conference will bring together research postgraduates and early-career researchers to share and discuss issues concerning the engagement of communities in relation to heritage, museums and galleries practice, including community-led initiatives.

Call for papers:

Papers may present, but are not limited to, research and / or case studies concerning:

* engagement of communities through museum, galleries and heritage practice
* community-led projects
* local community involvement with archaeological site management
* projects initiated and steered by local communities
* internet community development and partnerships
* the role of engaging communities when representing difficult histories
* social history studies
* cultural policy-making with an emphasis on engaging communities
* education and learning
* cross-cultural communication
* safeguarding of communal cultural heritage, including intangible cultural expressions

By 'engaging' the research 'community', this conference will provide an opportunity to reflect on a range of issues, including the following:

The conference will question how, within the research community, do we go about researching 'communities' in the context of heritage, museums and galleries? What are the epistemological, theoretical, methodological and ethical issues that frame this field of study? How are current researchers tackling such issues and what can we learn from the different responses coming out of the various contexts and academic backgrounds that are currently engaged with this research problem? How does the artificial division of fields and disciplines within academic research communities influence the ways in which 'community' / 'communities' is conceived, conceptualised and studied? How might improving communication and understanding of the range of theoretical and methodological approaches between different 'disciplines' in the research community move the field of communities and heritage, museums and galleries forward?

Deadline for 200 word abstract: September 15th, 2009
Email abstract (word doc) to:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Global Warming Shoes! Visitors' labels

Reposted from my Tumblr.

I’d love to see more of this sort of thing (photo taken in the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney), low-tech (cheap) but inspired ‘interactives’. Still keen on the guerilla labelling idea. Maybe once the thesis has been submitted… *thinks*


Visitor written label

What are the functions of museums?

Readers of New Curator will know that Pete recently asked people to contribute their definitions of the function of museums. The result was a 'cloud' of key words. Among them:



- didn't feature nearly so prominently as one would imagine. Well worth a more detailed analysis than I can do it justice.

And, should that sort of thing float your boat, you can purchase merchandise featuring the word cloud. What better way to display your inner museum geek to the rest of the world?!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Songs about Museums

In the three hours I drove from my one home to my other home today, I was thinking about songs about museums - sadly and surprisingly, I could think of very few. Here's what I have so far:
Donovan, Museum, 1966 [covered by Herman's Hermits in 1967]
"Meet me under the whale at the Natural History Museum..."

Bob Dylan, Visions of Johanna, 1966
"Inside the museums, infinity goes up on trial..."

Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi, 1970
"They took all the trees and put 'em in a tree museum..."

Eric Idle, The Getty, 1999-2000
"There's a new place in LA, I go there every day, it's the Getty..."

So far, we have two natural history museums (one is used for erotic encounters, the other overcharges for admission), and two art museums (one with ugly paintings of women, the other with rather sexier pictures of women...). Any other ideas? I was thinking Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition, too, but that was inspired by a temporary exhibition, and as such, I'm not sure it counts... Google brings up only people I've never heard of...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Our 'prestige' new home

Check out the in progress photographs of the School of Museum Studies' (yes, that's right, we're no longer a lowly 'department'!) new location. We're all *very* excited.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Very Amazing: Behind the Scenes at the V&A

BBC Radio 4 has just started a six part series that looks behind the scenes at the V&A, one of my most favourite places on the earth.

Those in the UK can 'listen again' to the first episode and find out more about the series here.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Gallery People

I love pictures of people in museums - today's BBC Valued Exposure has one of people at the Tate in 1957. Would you get a different social cross-section now, I wonder?

I'm meeeellllltiiinngg!!!

Evidence of the Stone Age is being washed away in Scotland; archeologists sing tales of woe. Meanwhile, I am fascinated by the idea of a dresser made of rocks.

The Getty

Our MA colleague Ellie Dunham (aka expateek) talks about dissertations, napping, Andrew Wyeth and Ilya Kuryakin in her recent post about LA's Getty Museum. Enjoy!