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, July 31, 2010

British Society for the History of Science Exhibition Opportunity

I have had a request from our lovely friends over at the New History Lab (check out their blog here) to advertise this exhibition opportunity (Click the title to be taken to the British Society for the History of Science Website):

British Society for the History of Science

Great Exhibitions!

The Outreach and Education Committee are pleased to announce a new competition for public exhibitions that deal with the history of science and/or medicine.

Entrants are welcome from institutions in any country and exhibits may be permanent or temporary. Eligible exhibits must use artefacts or places of some kind and this may include buildings or locations, pictures, instruments, objects and books. Web-exhibits are eligible for the prize. The closing date is the 15th September 2010 and exhibits should still be available for viewing until the end of November 2010. The prize is £300. The winning exhibit will be the subject of a special feature in the BSHS's Viewpoint magazine. Entrants need to fill in a entrance form [Word doc]. Further details are available here [Word doc]. Enquries to

Friday, July 30, 2010

Book discounts

Via Museum-L:
Starting tomorrow (7/29), get 20% off all books (enter discount code L3610 at checkout)!
Museum Studies & Practice publications include:

McRainey & Russick, Connecting Kids to History with Museum Exhibitions (
BONUS! For VSA Marketplace attendees on 7/29 at the Wyndham Phoenix, don't miss co-author Mary Jane Taylor signing copies at the Left Coast Press table 2:30-3:15pm

Gutwill & Allen, Group Inquiry at Science Museum Exhibits: Getting Visitors to Ask Juicy Questions (
BONUS! For VSA Marketplace attendees on 7/29 at the Wyndham Phoenix, don't miss co-author Josh Gutwill signing copies at the Left Coast Press table 3:15-4pm

Falk, Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience (

Weaver, Creating Great Visitor Experiences: A Guide for Museums, Parks, Zoos, Gardens and Libraries (

Serrell, Judging Exhibitions: A Framework for Assessing Excellence (

Schlatter, Museum Careers: A Practical Guide for Students and Novices (


Go to to order, and enter discount code L3610 at checkout to get 20% off the regular prices. Discounts valid 7/29/10 - 9/29/10.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Lovely Surprise in the Post

Well, my little Atticites, I went to the post box yesterday, and what did I find? You'll never guess.

Oh, ok, you did. Post. Yes, but so much more...

On opening the package, I emptied out a letter from the lovely Sam Pointon, Director of Fun at the National Railway Museum, who at the tender age of 6 was appointed to the post almost a year ago. Along with a lovely postcard, and a very tasty stick of rock came a request to tell you what they were up to this summer - a request with which I am more than happy to comply. I'll do anything for sweeties, me...

Anyway chaps, it really does look like the National Railway Museum are doing some corking things this summer. For one thing, you can time travel all the way back to the 1930s - I hope that means that there are LASHINGS of ginger beer, and lots of adventures. I'm sure that there will be. There are plays, talks, a minature railway, a FUNFAIR, and plenty of other things. You can even see the train which takes Harry Potter and company to Hogwarts, and perhaps you might want to have a fully fledged day of Wizardry!

Who can tell what you'll choose? Anyway, it's up to you, and you can find out more by clickyclicking the link below.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Big changes in the government's management of Museums

Following on from the news last week about government funding for museums and heritage, today it has been announced that a number of public bodies relevant to the sector are to 'merged, abolished, or streamlined.' This includes abolishing the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, which will be wound up by April 2012 - details of MLA's response on the MLA website.

Other proposals include abolishing the UK Film Council, the Advisory Council on Libraries, and the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck sites to name a few. The government will also be looking into their "responsibility for heritage and the built environment, and considering the role and remit of English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund."

It is vague as to how the remit of bodies like the MLA will be fulfilled in the future - the full ministerial statement states that "Where bodies are to be abolished we will look to transfer key functions to other existing bodies so as to continue to support our sectors and preserve the necessary expertise."

Will the loss of bodies like the MLA be a significant blow to the sector? MLA was by no means perfect but it provided (in some ways) a mediator between the demands/wants of Government and the demands/wants of museums, libraries and archives on the other. It provided a channel for public money to be used in ways that benefited the sector, negotiating the tricky intrinsic / instrumental debate that rages at the heart of funding for culture. Through their programmes they provided a co-ordinated approach for organisations to aspire to - such as Inspiring Learning For All which sought to put learning at the heart of museums, libraries and archives - and ensured that there was a voice for the sector close to government. It remains to be seen what will happen to the sector now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Museum of Bond Vehicles in Illinois | News | Building Design

Museum of Bond Vehicles in Illinois | News | Building Design

Because when something is called 'The Museum of Bond', you have to look. Even if you're not a bond fan, you have to...

Permanently Magical | Review | Building Design

Under this link, there is a review of the new exhibition at Sir John Soane's House, London.
Permanently Magical | Review | Building Design

As a big fan of Soane's Museum, I love that this museum, seen by many as a place of stasis, is able to adapt and change - and accept the natural changes that the environment flings at it, such as bomb and police raid damage. You've got to love the marriage of fixity and mutability...

A Year of Industrial and Technical Heritage

The European Industrial Heritage Organisations have launched a campaign for a European and Industrial Technical Heritage Year, seeking to expand the knowledge of the richness of such heritage that Europe has, and to raise awareness of those sites that are under threat. Organizations can join up to their manifesto/memorandum, call it what you will, by going here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

CFP: International Journal of Intangible Heritage

Call for papers Volume 6: all possible discourses on Intangible Heritage
Deadline: 1st October 2010
The International Journal of Intangible Heritage is a refereed academic and
professional journal for the intangible heritage sector. First published in
May 2006, the Journal embraces theory and practice in relation to the study,
safeguarding, interpretation and promotion of the intangible heritage. Over
recent years, academics, researchers and professionals in many different
parts of the cultural sector have increasingly been studying, systematising,
documenting and communicating intangible heritage elements and in particular
supporting its traditional cultural expressions.
The need for such an international publication was one of the fruitful
outcomes of the 2004 Triennial General Conference of the International
Council of Museums (ICOM) held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on the theme of
`Museums and Intangible Heritage`. The then Ministry of Culture and Tourism,
Republic of Korea (now the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism) agreed
to provide support for this Journal through the National Folk Museum of
Korea. Following the establishment of a Journal Secretariat in the Museum
and the convening of the International Editorial Board and Editorial
Advisory Committee in late 2005, the first volume was published in May 2006.
Since then the second, third, fourth, and fifth volumes came out in May
2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively. The printed editions are
supplemented by an electronic edition in PDF format at
The Journal welcomes offers of contributions covering all areas of
intangible heritage studies and practice.
The Journal usually publishes three categories of contributions as follows:

(1) Main articles (double refereed), normally between 4,000 and 6,000 words,
excluding notes, bibliography and illustrations. An A4 size page of plain
text averages around 800 words, and the printed paper will normally be
allocated six, eight or ten journal pages according to length and
illustrations. Prospective authors should consult the Editorial Board
through the Editor-in-Chief if a longer contribution is

(2) Short communications (double refereed), of up to 2,000 words (two to
four journal pages).

(3) News and reviews items of up to 1,000 words on conferences, publications
or projects (which will be subject to normal editing by not formal
refereeing. Publication is subject to relevance to the Journal and the
decision of the Editorial Board)
We are now seeking suitable contributions for Volume Six in all three
categories: main papers, short communications, and news and reviews, on any
aspect of research in intangible heritage studies.
Manuscripts submitted should not be under consideration by any other journal
or publisher, nor should they have been previously published elsewhere. If a
manuscript is based on a lecture, conference paper or talk, specific details
should accompany the submission. There are detailed Instructions to
Contributors on the preparation of manuscripts and illustrations in previous
volumes of the Journal (in both the printed and electronic editions) and
these are available on the Journal website at: .

Paper proposals for the Journal can be submitted to the Journal Secretariat:
(postal address below) at any time. However, to be
considered for the next volume (2011) contributions must be received by 1st
October, 2010 for consideration by the Editorial Board at its next meeting.
Papers should be in electronic format, wherever possible should be submitted
via e-mail. The submitted text (including an Abstract except for News and
Reviews items), should be sent as an attachment to your e-mail message.
Texts should then be saved and submitted in unjustified text alignment in
Rich Text Format (RTF). Illustrations should not be `embedded` in the text.
Electronic images of the required quality (see the Instructions to
Contributors), should be submitted as separate files. Original photographs
should not be submitted at this stage, but a list summarising these should
be included.
Please provide the full postal address of each author and of any
institutional affiliation where applicable, including the country name, and
an e-mail address contact address for each Author. Include at the end of the
manuscript a short biography (80 words) for each Author. Please find
attached at the webpage of IJIH as below.

For manuscript submission contact:
Publication Secretariat

International Journal of Intangible Heritage

The National Folk Museum of Korea
Sejongno 1-1, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Emails: ,
Tel: +82-(0)2-3704-3101,3122,3123

For editorial policy etc. enquiries contact:
Editor-in-Chief: Professor Amareswar Galla

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A peep round Snibston Discovery Park

Snibston Discovery Park is located in Leicestershire, in Coalville a small town close to Leicester. It proudly calls itself the region's 'largest interactive museum' and is a showcase for 'science, technology and design collections, including major innovations in transport and engineering history' (Leicestershire County Council). A little while ago I went on a trip to Snibston, predominantly to see an exhibition on the 100 years of Girl Guiding (I am a Guide leader in my 'spare' time), but as this proved to be a slight disappointment the day really belonged to noodling around the main part of the museum and letting off steam in the adventure play ground outside.

I was not that interested in the science exhibition part of Snibston, mainly because I have a slight aversion to science interactives after a year and a half of working as an 'enabler' in Magna Science Adventure Centre but the ones here were decent enough, if little worn out and sad-looking from years of children trying to break them. They unfortunately eat money too and this is one major struggle of trying to keep these places looking fresh and modern. Still, the children I was with seemed to enjoy them.

One of the interactives I did enjoy was a skeleton sitting on a bike (see below) - you climbed onto another bike next to the case and cycled until the skeleton's heart lit up. As you moved the bike, the skeletons leg's and arms moved too. Jaunty skeletons always get my vote!

If you like social history - in terms of the development of industry and technology - then Snibston has some interesting displays about local industry. I did my best to ignore my concern about the underlying narrative of progression - you know, the idea that history is about the progression from a 'primitive' past to a technologically advanced present - although this was almost turned on its head by the juxtaposition of displays about 16th century and 19th century miners. The 16th century miner was rather jauntily dressed in a smart outfit, the 19th century miners almost naked and with only dirty sheets to protect their modesty. Of course this was explained by the much deeper mines in the 19th century compared to the 1500s but it did hint towards some of the more negative aspects of industrialisation which compelled men, women and children to work in abject conditions.

Being a geek, nerd, whatever I do love to look at old vehicles, mainly because their design seems to reflect their function much more clearly than modern things, which tend to hide their mechanics away. This picture shows a lovely replica of one of the buses that used to work the streets of Leicester.

A more modern but equally delightful shiny red bus from Leicester - this one was travelling to Stoneygate.

I'll come to the quality of the models used in the fashion galleries in a moment but it was a shame that the models used to portray people in the social history gallery were amusing rather than believable. Take this model of George Stephenson and tell me that it really, really resembles the portrait of him depicted on the wall...

The Fashion Gallery at Snibston is for me the jewel in their collection; not only is it presented really well - thematically rather than chronologically - it uses believable looking models for the clothes. In fact it was quite spooky being surrounded by cases of plastic models when not long before I had watched the Dr Who episode where shop dummies come to life....

I liked the thematic presentation because it prevented the usual 'look at how clothes have developed through the ages' narrative but instead it showed how different periods and countries have approached the 'problem' of what to wear depending on the social occasion / climate / job / event / lifestyle choice. It is also fun to see the following, an 18th or 19th farmer in his blue smock juxtaposed with more modern dress. In some ways it helps to distinguish just how different the past was from the present in a very direct way.

There was an exhibition by contemporary textile students who had used the galleries to inspire their work, it was interesting to see what they had come up with considering that it could be argued that fashion is always shamelessly ripping off the past.

One thing I noticed about the difference between the models was that the historical female models were much more modest / passive looking than their modern counterparts. I thought it was interesting that the museum had consciously sought to make a difference between the poses and expressions depending on the period it was depicting. I am reading at the moment about the need for 'historical awareness' to take into account that even the manners, emotions, mentalities and personalities of people in the past could be very different to ours and it seemed this exhibition had taken that into account.

The exhibition even had its own Mr Darcy clone...

During my visit there was a special costume exhibition, 'Starstruck', which exhibited a 'dazzling' collection of costumes from stage and screen. To my delight most of these costumes were from historical dramas and I recognised many of them. In the picture below you can see one of the costumes worn by Cate Blanchett when she played Elizabeth I (left hand model). Other costumes were worn by Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly and Tom Cruise. Most of the models were left headless, presumably it being difficult to portray a living actor in plastic.

Speaking of Mr Darcy, they had on show one of the real costumes worn by actor Colin Firth from the BBC's adaptation of 'Pride and Prejudice'...

Equally exciting they had one of the costumes won by the brilliant actor Rufus Sewell when he played Charles II in the recent BBC series.

The theatre was equally well presented, with costumes (mainly from Shakespeare plays) worn by the acting greats including Lawrence Olivier and the gorgeous Vivian Leigh, and even one worn by David Tennant (the jester's costume below).

The costumes were interesting in their own right, as well as having been worn by famous actors, for showing how we attempt to recreate the fashions of the past when they can be compared with the real thing in the Fashion gallery next door. Surprisingly some of the costumes looked far more ordinary up close, attesting to the power of TV and film to beguile the senses. In contrast the theatre costumes were much more detailed and ornate, presumably because they are seen 'in the flesh' and therefore need to look more special.

All in all it was an interesting day out to Snibston, the variety of collections on display providing entertainment for diverse interests and of course the adventure playground was on hand for when the excitement died down!

Resources for organising and holding an event for PhD students

Following on from our 'Materiality and Intangibility: Contested zones' Symposium and Live Art Event in December 2009, we have put together some resources about organising and holding an event for PhD students. They have been based on our experiences of planning and organising the Symposium and Live Art Event, and we have been (brutally) honest about the process we went through, where we encountered challenges and what we would repeat again if we had the chance to go back in time and learn from our successes and mistakes!

If you want to have a look at these resources - and we hope they might be useful as inspiration for any PhD students wishing to hold an event - then you can find them on our 'Materiality and Intangibility' blog or by following this direct link.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Poet Gives His House to the Russian Nation

Yevtushenko gives house, art to Russia

This article, which talks about the famous Russian poet's donation of his house to the nation, gives voice once more to the link I always argue for. There is poetry, there is painting and the plastic arts, and the poetic, plastic artistry of the museum. And they have a dialectic and dialogue which cannot be ignored.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The World Heritage Applications

Under this cut, you'll find a list of the sites applying for World Heritage Status. I have to admit, I wouldn't know who I'd vote for. I've so many sites on this list of which I am very fond. The Jewelry Quarter in Brum, Chester Rows, Cresswell Crags, The Lake District, Offa's Dyke and St Andrews.

This is something I'm going to have to think about. But I am incredibly proud of the heritage sites which such a small island have. Even the weird ones. From megalithic monuments, unexplained stone figures, and deserted factories, we have an incredible diversity of history here.

These do, in fact, make me proud to be British.

Bye bye

I graduated yesterday. I iz no longer a student *sob*. So, this is me signing off. Thanks everyone for the last four(?) years of The Attic - I've really enjoyed it. I'm sad to be leaving the blog behind, but I know I'm leaving you all in very capable hands.

Over and out.


Auf Wiedersehn.


Zai jian.


Amy xxx

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Art and politics

Entirely unbeknownst to me (I'm terribly out of date with happenings in my home town), the (once feted) Ipswich Art School building has reopened as a gallery of contemporary art with a loan from the Saatchi Gallery. Which is a really good thing. But something in this report from the BBC particularly struck me: the Councillor's comment that 'There's very little public money going into this' - as if spending on cultural projects = political death. Leaving personal ideologies aside, I somehow can't imagine the same sort of attitude under the former Labour-run Council. In the light of Jenny's last post, is this rather throw-away comment more significant that it, at first, appears? A likely sign of things to come?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Arts told to adopt US-style funding

From the Financial Times comes this stark warning.

Following on from this comes a discussion from the Guardian.

This is something that needs to be discussed. What are the benefits and pitfalls of such an approach to seeking funding? I'd like to hear your opinions on this.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Museums in the News Digest Edition

Whoa; I go away for a week, and there is a ton of news items when I come back.

June 30: The Ulster Museum has won the Art Fund Prize, beating out the Ashmolean. Might be fun to go visit for research week next year, y'all?

June 30: The National Gallery's exhibition on art and authenticity, Close Examination, has opened. See a slideshow of works here; a selection of reviews here.

July 1: Charles Saatchi has gifted his Saatchi Gallery to the nation; it will become the Museum of Contemorary Art in London. See the slideshow here.

July 1: Speaking of Saatchi, the Evening Standard lauds Saatchi for making his space available to the intellegentsia's need to hang out and have late dinners in a posh place.

July 7: The NPG needs to raise £100,000 to stop the export of the earliest known British painting of a freed slave. A fascinating story, both of the man and the painting; well worth saving.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Webinar: Audience Creation in Museums

We are delighted to announce that Dr Neil Kotler has agreed to present an International Online Seminar on the theme of Audience Creation in Museums on Wednesday 13 October.

Dr Kotler is world-renowned as a leading thinker and practitioner in the field of museum marketing, with his groundbreaking book, "Museum Marketing and Strategy: Designing Missions, Building Audiences, Generating Revenue and Resources" - now in its second edition and translated into Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Korean - regarded as the key work in the field.

Through his consulting firm, Kotler Museum and Cultural Marketing Consultants, Dr Kotler has worked with leading institutions in Asia, South America and Australia as well as Europe and the USA.

In his seminar, Dr Kotler will allow ample time to respond to questions from delegates about the practical concerns, challenges and issues of audience creation. This is a rare opportunity to tap into the insights and experience of one of the world's leading exponents in the field.

To facilitate questions and discussion, there are a strictly limited number of places available on this seminar and early booking is essential to secure a place.

Value and convenience:
The seminar gives you access to unique advice, information and inspiration - from the convenience of your laptop or desktop computer. No travel time, expense or accommodation is involved - all you need is an internet connection and computer audio.

Audience Creation in Museums is terrific value at just £47. And this even includes at no extra cost:
• participating with a group of your colleagues
• accessing the recording of the event online
• sharing the recording online with your colleagues

To register, please visit:

Can't make the date or time? Just reserve your place and you'll automatically receive the complete recording the next day to study at your convenience!

I hope you'll join us for this stimulating and exciting event - but please do remember to reserve your place as soon as you can to avoid disappointment.

Graeme Farnell

Conference: Approaching Museum Analysis, 8 July 2010

Conference: Approaching Museum Analysis, 8 July 2010

Pam Meecham, Reader in Museum & Gallery Education, has convened a
half-day conference, Approaching Museum Analysis, to take place here
in the Art, Design & Museology studios on level 8 of the Institute of
Education, University of London on Thursday 8 July 2010, 2.00-5.00pm.

She is delighted to announce that Tony Bennett, Research Professor in
Social and Cultural Theory at the University of Western Sydney (and
author of The Birth of the Museum: history, theory, politics) will be
presenting the keynote 'Laboratories of Difference: Museums, Publics,
Milieus': please see full programme attached. Fee: £20/£10
concessions. Please contact Josephine on: to
book a place.

Museums and Restitution Conference

The upcoming Museums and Restitution Conference hosted by our friends at the University of Manchester's Centre of Museology, will be blogged live here, for those - like me - who can't make the conference. Looking forward to it folks!