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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Historical Hot or Not II

Last week, we encountered much debate regarding the aesthetic appeal of Henry Wellcome, founder of the Wellcome Collection. This week, we turn to a female collector, the fin-de-siecle Bostonian eccentric, Isabella Stewart Gardner. Her mansion, crammed to the brim with Old Masters, Impressionists, and decorative arts, was left in her will along with an endownment and stipulations for keeping it open as a museum. Kitty corner from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the collection has fallen victim to some high-profile (and still unsolved) art crimes, as well as the misguided architectural interventions of Renzo Piano.

All that being as it may, how do we feel about this lovely lady?
Isabella Stewart Gardner
John Singer Sargent, 1888
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

As Mrs Gardner was such a high-energy person (which you can see from her intense gaze and open mouth, as though speaking), the portrait took 9 attempts to get right. The low neckline and provocative va-va-voom curves of the artistic philathropist led to her husband asking that it be kept out of public display. Now that they have both been deceased for nearly 100 years, we can ogle all we want - but do we want to?

Museum Wiki

February 24, 2010

Are you UpNext?
Share your thoughts on the Future of Museums and Libraries Wiki

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) invites you to help invent the future of museums and libraries through your participation in UpNext: The Future of Museums and Libraries Wiki. IMLS's first-ever wiki is a platform where individuals inside and outside of museums, libraries, and related fields can discuss, dissect, expand, and inform the issues outlined in the Future of Museums and Libraries: A Discussion Guide. IMLS will use the knowledge shared in the wiki to help shape the agency's strategic plan, research directions, publications, convenings, and grant making. The wiki will be officially launched March 3, but is open for registration now.

In these tough economic times, strategic thinking is a wise investment in the future. Whether you work in, partner with, study, volunteer, visit or are just plain interested in museums and libraries and passionate about how they can continue to thrive in their service to the public-you have an opinion to be shared!

The wiki will be an opportunity to share resources, examples of what works, and vexing questions. We hope that it will be a thought provoking five weeks for all participants and provide food for thought for your career, your institution and the choices you face.

Nine discussion themes and one theme on next steps will each be featured on the wiki for a two-week period, introduced by expert discussion leaders. The themes and discussion leaders include:

March 3-16
1. Changing Definitions & Roles of Museums and Libraries
Martín Gómez, City Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library Shifts in Power & Authority
2. Beth Takekawa, Executive Director, Wing Luke Asian Museum
Cassie Chin, Deputy Executive Director, Wing Luke Asian Museum

March 17-30
3. Museums & Libraries as the "Third Place"
Susan Hildreth, City Librarian, Seattle Public Library
4. Technology & Policy Development
John Wilkin, Associate University Librarian for Library Information Technology (LIT), University of Michigan, Executive Director of HathiTrust

March 31-April 13
5. 21st Century Learning & Information Use
Tom Scheinfeldt, Managing Director for Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, OMEKA Project Director
6. New Models & Structures for Collaboration
Mark Wright, Director of Partnerships, National Children's Museum

April 14-27
7. Planning for a Sustainable Future
Emlyn Koster, President & CEO, Liberty Science Center
8. Metrics for Evaluating Service & Impact
John Fraser, Director, Institute for Learning Innovation-New York

April 28-May 12
9. The 21st Century Museum & Library Workforce
Joanne Marshall, Alumni Distinguished Professor, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
10. UpNext: Where Do We Go From Here?
Larry Johnson, CEO, The New Media Consortium

May 19
Last official "Wiki Wednesday" IMLS will post wiki final summary.

Each theme will have a unique wiki page describing the theme and posing questions for discussion. Wiki users will be able to respond and comment on the questions, as well as pose new questions and thoughts particular to that theme.
Wiki users will also be able to build a collaborative bibliography on the wiki and share existing projects at their own institutions or others, which are relevant to the discussion themes. A unique page will also exist for educators and students to share how the wiki, the Discussion Guide, and other resources on the future of museums and libraries are or can be used in professional education.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the wiki or the Discussion Guide, please feel free to contact Mamie Bittner, or Erica Pastore,

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit

Conference: Canadian Museology

Taking Stock: Museum Studies & Museum Practices in Canada
Toronto, Canada
April 22-24, 2010

An interdisciplinary conference hosted by the Museum Studies program,
Faculty of Information, at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Keynote Speaker is Dr. Robert R. Janes who will draw on reflections from his
recently published book, Museums in a Troubled World: Renewal, Irrelevance
or Collapse?

Over the past 40 years, the discipline of Museum Studies has grown beyond
its foundational premise as the study of museum organization and management
to become a field informed by interdisciplinarian approaches, pedagogies and
techniques. Some have argued that Museum Studies has not only come of age,
as an academic discipline it has moved into the mainstream. Yet for many,
the very formulation of this discipline continues to be a subject of intense
reflection and debate, while its relationship with the community of
professional practitioners it intends to serve is complex.

While much has been written on Museum Studies/Museology from the UK, US,
Australian and European perspectives, less has been articulated about
Canadian traditions in the field. Despite over four decades of formal
academic training and almost two centuries of professional practices, there
are no Canadian national journals, nor annual academic conferences dedicated
to the subject of Museum Studies. Doubtless a Canadian museology exists,
however the research of Canadian museum scholars continues to be diffused
across regional, linguistic, and disciplinarian lines.

The Master of Museum Studies program at the University of Toronto marks its
40th anniversary with a conference that aims to create a forum for a
nation-wide debate and critical examination of the academic discipline of
Museum Studies in Canada in historical and contemporary contexts, and how
this discipline registers within broader global traditions, pedagogies and

This 3-day conference will bring together academics and practitioners,
theorists and students from across the nation and beyond to explore the
components of theory and practice that have structured the field of Museum
Studies in Canada.

Draft program listing sessions and speakers available at

To register online visit:
Students: $50.00 All others: $150.00

(These fees cover the entire duration of the conference, and include
refreshments throughout the event in addition to the conference reception on
Friday evening. There are no day rates available for this event.)

CFP: Cultural Policy

Cultural Trends, the journal that champions the need for better evidence-based analyses of the cultural sector, is looking for reviews for the 'grey literature' Policy Review Notes section.
These short (c.2500 words) Policy Review Notes' focus should be in the spirit of the longer Cultural Trends’ papers, concentrating on the data, methodologies and development of the evidence base for the policy document(s) or programme being considered. Policy Review Notes are not expected to be exhaustive, however - but may be a first stage or interim commentary on the way in which empirical evidence is being used to support management of a policy programme or evidence-based data collection for policy development.

We would be pleased to receive reviews of the material listed below. For further information, and to volunteer to review items listed below, or any other grey literature of relevance for the Cultural Trends' aims, please contact:
Ian Baxter, Cultural Trends Policy Review Notes Editor, Glasgow Caledonian University.
Cultural Trends website:
The website contains guidance for authors.

Items for review:

People and culture in Scotland, 2008 - The Scottish Government, November 2009:

CCSKills - Blueprint for Scotland:

Finland Ministry of Education - Strategy for Cultural Policy

Australian National Arts & Disability Strategy

Scottish Arts Council Quality Framework

M&G Scotland - museum role in communities

Heritage Science Strategy

US Thinkpiece - Art & the public purpose

UNESCO World Report: Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue

Art-Goers in their Communities: patterns of civic and social engagement - National Endowment for the Arts, October 2009, USA

French cultural practices in the digital age: exclusive survey - Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, France October 2009

Major report on independence of government arts funding: The Independence of Government Arts Funding: A Review (Christopher Madden)

Social Impact of HLF projects

Americans for the Arts: Arts & Economic Prosperity III


Dr Ian Baxter
Deputy Director of Postgraduate Programmes
Caledonian Business School | Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, UK
* Editor - Cultural Trends Policy Review Notes
* Editor - UK Heritage Research Group e-update
* Tweeting @

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Star Detectives

I came across this today - forensic astronomy, which attempts to locate historical events through investigation of the celestial phenomena that records of them (art, literature and the like) describe. There's two extensive articles here about it. I think the idea is so phenomenal. It made me tingle. Very strange indeed. We can see their stars...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Free pays off

According to the BBC, free national museums and major national venues saw visitor numbers boosted last year in the wake of the recession. I'm a little more hesitant to ascribe this totally to the economic crisis, and more to a combination of this and good programming. For example, the Tower of London is really expensive, but I suspect the huge numbers boost is more to do with their Henry VIII exhibit.

Podcast opinion poll

Via Museum-L:

Dear Colleagues,

AAM is currently working on developing an AAM Podcast and Teleconference program. To help us know more about what you might want/need from programs like this, we’ve developed a short survey to learn more about our audience and their podcast experiences. Thanks for taking five minutes to tell us about your current podcast use and preferences by completing the survey here.

Please feel free to share this message with colleagues who might be interested!


Greg Stevens
Assistant Director, Professional Development
American Association of Museums
gstevens @ aam-us. org

Give up art to earn your egg

Check out the BBC Lent talk on Radio 4 this evening (8:45pm, or on i-player afterwards) to hear Will Self exploring the idea of giving up art and culture for lent. The clips I heard yesterday sounded quite interesting.

There's also an article on this topic by Self in the New Statesman, here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Elgin Marbles tug-of-war repeated in Anglesey over Hoard

The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map:Elgin Marbles tug-of-war repeated in Anglesey over Hoard

The Megalithic Portal posted this news item earlier. It makes me think what a strange relationship we have with our artefacts. So much is about possession. We truly are a society that defines who they are by what they have. I'm not saying this is automatically a bad thing, just an interesting one. Our material culture and our material past constitutes a hugely important part of our identities. It is strange, though, to think how this relationship, which is so deep, is yet so changeable and so dictated by fashion and political power. Things, perhaps, stay the same...but the relationships between themselves and between them and us change hugely too. And that is a characteristic of identity too.

History in the Remaking

History in the Remaking

A temple complex in Turkey that predates even the pyramids is rewriting the story of human evolution.

Intrested? Read the full article from Newsweek here.

Call For Papers: Digital Resources for the Humanities and Arts

Call for Papers


Forthcoming DRHA 2010 Conference:

Brunel University, West London

DRHA 2010: Digital Resources for the Humanities and Arts

Sensual Technologies: Collaborative Practices of Interdisciplinarity

The conference’s overall theme will be the exploration of the collaborative relationship between the body and sensual/sensing technologies across various disciplines. In this respect it will offer an interrogation of practices that are indebted to the innovative exchange between the sensual, visceral and new technologies.

At the same time, the aim is to look to new approaches offered by various emerging fields and practices that incorporate new and existing technologies. Specific examples of areas for discussion could include:

* Delineation of new collaborative practices and the interchange of knowledge
* Collaborative interdisciplinary practices of embodiment and technology
* Integration/deployment of digital resources in new contexts
* Connections and tensions that exist between the Arts, Humanities and Science
* Notions of the ‘solitary’ and the ‘collaborative’ across the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences
* eScience in the Arts and Humanities
* Use of digital resources in collaborative creative work, teaching,
learning and scholarship
* Open source and second generation Web infrastructure
* Digital media in time and space
* Music and technology: composition and performance
* Dance and interactive technologies
* Taking inspiration from SET: imaging, GPS and mobile technologies
* Evaluating the experience among providers and users / performers and audiences
* Interface Design and HCI
* Performative Practices in SecondLife or other virtual platforms
* New critical paradigms for the conference’s theme

The DRHA (Digital Resources for the Humanities and Arts) conference is held annually at various academic venues throughout the UK (click here for previous conferences). This year’s conference is hosted by Brunel University, West London. It will take place from Sunday 5th September to Wednesday 8th September 2010. It will be held across various innovative spaces, including the newly expanded Boiler House laboratory facilities, housed in the Antonin Artaud Building, and state of the art conference facilities plus high standard accommodation.

We invite original papers, panels, installations, performances, workshop sessions and other events that address the conference theme, with particular attention to the ‘Sensual Technologies’ theme. We encourage proposals for innovative and non-traditional session formats.

DRHA 2010 will include a SecondLife roundtable/discussion event, led by performance artist Stelarc, which will enable international participants to present performative work via Second Life. For this event, we particular encourage submission of Machinima works that can be screened as part of this panel.

Short presentations, for example work-in-progress, are invited for poster presentations.

Anyone wishing to submit a performance or installation should visit


for information about the spaces and technical equipment and support available.

All proposals, whether papers, performance or other, should reflect the critical engagement at the heart of DRHA.

The deadline for submissions will be 31 March 2010. Abstracts should be between 600 – 1000 words. Letters of acceptance will be sent by 15th of May 2010, when the conference registration will be opened.

Free workshop: Global Cities and the Creative Economy

Young Researchers and Postgraduate Workshop Cities and the Creative Economy
Annual GaWC lecture: “Global Cities and the Creative Economy” Andy C Pratt, Professor of Culture, Media and Economy, centre for Culture, Media and Creative Industries (CMCI), King’s College London
28th April, 2010, Loughborough University
The Globalization and World City Research Centre (GaWC), based in the Geography Department at Loughborough University is hosting a workshop for young researchers and postgraduates on the creative economy and the city. We will be looking for presentations that explore the role of the creative economy in the production of cities through globalization, and the outcomes that this has on those who occupy the urban environment.
Since the end of the last century, the political drive for, and the academic interrogation of, the creative economy has accelerated immensely, catalysed by the march of information technologies. Cities have traditionally been viewed as the crucible of innovative economic activities and culture and as such, they constantly change their governance structures to accommodate particular people, firms, ideas and environments. Alongside this there is a discussion of cities as showcases of culture, or, as cultural powerhouses themselves. Narratives such as the creative (and/or the cultural) industries, the creative class and regional innovation systems have aided (and in some cases hindered) the development of world cities and the world city network. In doing so practitioners have adhered to these narratives and created places that are conducive to creative economic activity, and new networks of city connectivity. This is added to the longer term practices of presenting cities as ‘works of art’, or as the sources of cultural expression. Of course, there are tensions between culture/creativity and its ‘uses’ (instrumentalism); which in turn, raises is the issue of ‘whose culture?’ and ‘whose economy?’
Call for papers
We invite presentations from postgraduates and young researchers which deal with this topic. Suggested themes could be, but are in no way limited to:
• Critical perspectives on the Creative Class thesis • Creative industries development in the city • The role of technology in enabling creativity • Creativity and the materiality of cities
• Case studies of particular creative locales, cities or sectors • Creative economic activities across the world city network • Tensions of place marketing and branding versus the cultural economy
On the day of the workshop, GaWC will also host their annual lecture, which this year will be delivered by Andy C Pratt, Professor of Culture, Media and the Economy from the Centre for Culture, Media and Creative Industries (CMCI) at King’s College London. Professor Pratt is a leading academic and international policy advisor on cities and the creative economy and his talk will complement the themes of the workshop.
The workshop will be on the 28th of April 2010. Please email abstracts of no more than 250 words to or by 5th March 2010. The workshop is FREE and lunch and refreshments will be provided. There will also be some travel subsidies available to presenters, although this cannot be guaranteed for all applicants. Hence, please indicate in your email why you require funding and we will make decisions based on all applicants.

Are children bad for museums?

Ok, so this is an intentionally provocative title, especially from someone studying children's experiences in museums, who is also a volunteer with Kids in Museums!

This morning, I was sent a link from one of my KiM colleagues, for a blog post by Tony Trehy about the newly redeveloped People's History Museum in Manchester. The post, which criticizes the PHM for becoming a dumbed-down 'children's museum', got me thinking. Us attic-dwellers have recently been discussing what I like to think of (biologist that I am) as museodiversity - the variety of different museums that exist for different audiences. My own feeling is that I like the fact that different museums are pitched differently, have different interpretation styles, and aim themselves at different audiences. I think that's part of what makes us great. I also think that it is incredibly important that children are able to experience, and enjoy, museums from an early age, so that they continue to enjoy and visit them for the rest of their lives.

But this raises the question of whether, as Tony Trehy suggests, by designing their galleries with children in mind, museums end up excluding adults. I haven't been to the People's History Museum, either in it's old or new form, so I can't comment about this particular museum. But my feeling in general is that this doesn't need to be the case - there is often enough going on in a museum to allow for it to appeal to a broad audience. Many of the things that make a museum family friendly also make it more visitor friendly too - seats, toilets, cafe, friendly staff, and interpretations suitable for non-experts. I hope that additional activities and interpretations designed for children don't offend more 'serious' visitors - this would be a sad state of affairs indeed.

However, it is also important to realise that making museums child-friendly really shouldn't have to involve dumbing them down. Listed within the Kids in Museums Manifesto is this point:

"Don’t assume what kids want. They can appreciate fine art as well as finger painting. Involve kids, not just adults, in deciding what you offer."

Without getting too corny, children are people too - with a huge range of interests and attention spans. I think it would be terribly sad if museums attempted to dumb themselves down for the sake of children, as this actually wouldn't benefit anyone - and this certainly isn't what the Kids in Museums Campaign is trying to achieve. At the same time, I think each museum needs to look carefully at who it wants its audience to include, and make sure they know how to be as physically and intellectually accessible to these audiences as they can, whilst also providing the stimulating experience that visitors really want.

A while ago I read an interesting idea in Hein's Learning in the Museum that when museums attempt to become accessible to a particular group of people, they often become accessible to lots of other people too. It could be that by thinking about children, museums accidentally make themselves more accessible to all sorts of other folks as well (not to mention allowing PhD students to dress up as Vikings). There are a large number of adults who aren't specialists in the particular subject area of the museum who would benefit from interpretation which makes fewer assumptions about their prior knowledge, and is designed to grab their attention. It is as plausible that a particular adult would enjoy a high-energy interactive museum as it is that a particular child would enjoy looking at ancient Chinese artefacts.

I actually think it is fine for some museums to focus only on specialist adult audiences. But I also think that if museum professionals equate access for children with dumbing down, they are doing themselves no favours at all, and are also giving little credit to their younger audiences. So I don't think that children are bad for museums, but I do think that the image that some people have of children is bad for museums. And the best way round this is to continue to work closely with all our audiences, and take their views seriously whether they be a young child or a university professor.

Monday, February 22, 2010

CFP: Victorian Studies

Victorian Studies conferences are always fun, and this year's NAVSA is in Montreal, which makes it that much more fun. Last call for papers:

'Scale and Perspective'

- Regenia Gagnier (University of Exeter)
- Bernard V. Lightman (York University)
- Herbert Tucker (University of Virginia)

The North American Victorian Studies Association invites proposals for its upcoming conference in Montréal on any topic related to the conference theme of Scale and Perspective. What are the implications of these thematic categories as explored in relation to the concerns of aesthetics, ethics, geography, history, literature, philosophy, politics, science and technology? Possible conference threads include: literary form; genre and scale; critical perspective; sensory experience; narrative point of view; travel and distance; globalization; colonial knowledge; industrialization; urbanization; miniatures; models; architecture; natural wonders; perspective in painting; readership and publishing; the individual and the crowd; technologies of perception; manufacture; expanding political participation; the archive; the Victorian sublime; the other-worldly; railroads; new speeds of being; a child’s perspective; the animal’s point of view; geological and cosmological time scales; and how conceptions of scale and perspective altered across the period.

- Proposals for individual papers or member-organized panels should be submitted electronically to as an attachment in .doc or .pdf format.
- Proposals for individual papers should be two pages (max. 500 words) with a one-page curriculum vitae and must be received by 15 March 2010.
- Proposals for member-organized panels should present a clear rationale for the papers’ collective goal and include the following: title of panel, 250-word description of panel, name and one-page CV of session organizer, paper proposal and one-page CV for each presenter as required for individual papers. Panel proposals must be received by 1 March 2010.

For more information:

Jason Camlot, Michael Eberle-Sinatra, and Monique Morgan

Conference Committee:
Brigitte Boudreau, Dennis Denisoff, Tara MacDonald, and Douglas Peers

Masters Students Hit the (Exhibition) Ground Running

I just wanted to use this opportunity to say well done to all the Masters students in the department. Part of their coursework, for those of you who don't know, is to work in groups on an exhibition proposal around a particular theme (this year's was War and Conflict), and the best three are chosen to actually be put on! It's really exciting that the department now has the facility to do this - I certainly wish I'd had it last year. Really, I'm rather jealous.

But I want to congratulate the students on three wonderful exhibitions, and a great opening party this evening! It was certainly great to see them getting so into the spirit of the whole thing.

I'm impressed. I think the school, the loaning museums, the university and of course the students have come together to produce something great. Go and see, if you're in the area. They've taken over the building!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who are the Museum Geekerati?

Not quite as exciting as Historical Hot or Not?, but Museum-id wants to know who you think are the Museum Geekerati; the 'new influencers, movers + shakers? The group of people who are critical to the future development and success of the museum sector'.

Click on the following link to make your nomination (our very own Ross Parry gets a mention!).


CFP: Tourism and Development

New Zealand Geographical Society Conference (2010) with the Institute of
Australian Geographers (IAG), Christchurch, New Zealand, 5-8th July 2010.

Geographies of Tourism and Development

Marcela Palomino (University of Canterbury) and Kirsty Huxford (University
of Canterbury)

Tourism remains one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and has
strong links to development. This panel aims to explore issues surrounding
tourism and development, from both theoretical and empirical perspectives.
Of particular interest are papers addressing experiences of, and responses
to the challenges, changes and opportunities presented by tourism in the
context of development. Papers on methodological issues associated with
tourism and development research are also welcomed.

Themes of interest include, but are not restricted to:

. How discourses of development and underdevelopment are articulated
through tourism.

. Intentional and unintentional, positive and negative impacts for
development as a result of tourism.

. How discourses of development may be used to legitimise tourism.

. Tourism as a space of encounter where notions of Self and Other
may be contested, rearticulated or reinforced.

. How tourist identities change over time, creating new challenges,
changes and opportunities for how tourism is experienced and framed.

. Links between tourism, development and globalisation.

. Relationships between tourism, development and power, including:

o How tourism reflects and is influenced by global and local forces, such
as political economy, politics, and environmental and cultural preservation.

o Influence of global actors such as the World Bank, IMF, development
agencies, NGOs and states.

Please submit a title, 250 word abstract, a list of presenting and
contributing authors and their institutions, audiovisual and equipment
requirements, and six keywords to Marcela Palomino ( or Kirsty Huxford ( by 24 March 2010.

CFP: Uni Museums

University Heritage: Present and Future
Museum Gustavianum
University of Uppsala, Sweden, 17-20 June 2010


The European Academic Heritage Network UNIVERSEUM would like to announce its
11th annual meeting. UNIVERSEUM invites submissions of papers devoted to
academic heritage in its broadest sense, tangible and intangible, namely the
preservation, study, access and promotion of university collections,
museums, archives, libraries, and buildings of historical and scientific
Graduate students are especially encouraged to attend.
The main theme of the conference is 'University Heritage: Present and
Future', however papers on other topics are welcomed too.

'University Heritage: Present and Future'
Academic heritage institutions' traditional roles are collecting,
preservation, research and teaching. Increasingly, they are expected to
develop public programs and exhibitions as well as to assume a stronger role
in marketing their university's identity. These roles can pose considerable
challenges. How can we position ourselves within the growing constraints of
generating external funding, creating new audiences and keeping our
institutions' identity?

Presentations are limited to 20 minutes, including 5 minutes for discussion.
Please send proposals of no more than 200 words (use the abstract template)
to the email address below before 15 March 2010.
Include a short biography highlighting main research interests (no more than
50 words).
Language: English
Proposals will be reviewed by Universeum 2010 Programme Committee.

Email for proposals & info:

More info, abstract template and preliminary programme:


Historical Hot or Not

Dear Attic readers:
Today we will be starting a new feature here at The Attic, entitled "Historical Hot or Not"; the aim is aesthetic appreciation of museum founders or collectors from history. Individuals will be nominated for your approval, and we hope to err... stimulate... some discussion. We were inspired to do this after viewing the following:
This is Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936), founder of the Wellcome Trust and famed collector of medical paraphenalia, some of which now forms the Wellcome Museum in London. So: hot or not? I say, totally hot; on a scale of 1-10, definitely a 10. What say you?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Today (February 17th) only, the University of Indiana Press is having a 60% off sale off all it's UIP books, with free shipping in the US. Use code SIXTY when checking out. Here's a link to the museum-y books.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Abbey Road Sale

So, the home of the Beatles is up for sale

Part of me wanted to buy it and turn it into a museum. But then I thought, it would be wrong, somehow, to stop it making the music it was intended to.

What do you think? Are there cases where sites should NOT become museums?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Appeal to Save the Centre for Art and the Natural World Appeal - 11 February

CCANW is a unique educational charity which uses the Arts to explore how we can live more sustainably within Nature. Since it opened in 2006, CCANW has attracted well over 120,000 visitors to no less than 25 ground-breaking exhibitions and many more educational projects.

This unique artistic enterprise has been possible only through the generous support of a number of funding partners, principally Arts Council England. This coming financial year, for the first time, the Arts Council has been unable to confirm funding for CCANW.

Without Arts Council support, CCANW will close at the end of March. But there is still hope. We have been invited to re-apply, and if we can raise support from other sources as ‘match funding’, the Arts Council is likely to decide in our favour.

Our immediate target is £20,000 of match funding by mid-March, £5,000 of which has already been raised in the past week. If everyone on our mailing list became a Friend or made a donation, this would be reached.

Please play your part to ensure that CCANW stays open to visitors in Haldon Forest Park, and to fulfil its ambitious plans for more work with artists, communities and schools over the coming decade.

How you can help - become a supporter and make a difference immediately.

Thank you. We really do appreciate your support.

Peter Young
Chairman of Trustees

The road to Mendeley

Being a few months into my PhD, I think the biggest shock I've had is dealing with the vast quantities of information that suddenly seem to have appeared in my life. In the last few weeks this reached a crisis point, and I have been making a proper, grown-up effort to get everything in order before I drown in a bibliographic swamp.

One piece of software that has intrigued me, and which seems to be fairly useful is Mendeley, which describes itself as "i-tunes for research papers". Given how irritated I got with i-tunes, I suspect this doesn't do it justice (plus you don't need to give Apple your credit card details to get anything done).

Mendeley is currently in beta, and so is a little bit buggy. It wants to be a bibliographic tool, but I'm not using it for this, at least not until it gets slicker. What it does do incredibly well is to centralise pdf documents and allow you to order, search and annotate them. Plus its free!

Previously, all the papers I was merrily downloading were ending up in a series of folders, somewhere in the depths of my laptop. The more I added, the scarier and less accessible they got, and the more helpless I felt. With Mendeley, I have organised them into folders, and some papers are in a number of different folders, because they cross subjects.

Mendeley works by "watching" particular folders, and then bringing new papers up when you open it. Again, this is a little bit buggy at the moment, but better than the alternatives (madness, depression, alcoholism...). The main irritation is that it sometimes ends up bringing multiple copies, but this is fairly quick to tidy up.

Here are some screen shots:

Here is the list of all my papers. You can also see the folders I've created down the left hand side, and the info on each paper on the right, which can also be edited, or checked via google scholar (which I also love).

Once you've opened a paper, you can highlight and annotate it...

You can also search for key words in all your papers...

It doesn't currently work for anything other than pdfs, but what I have done is turn some of my typed-up notes into pdfs, and then added them too.

All of this does take a bit of time to set up, but seems to be worth it once it's done. Given that I've only been using it for a few weeks, I would be really interested to know if anyone has had any good or bad experiences of it themselves.

And if you're currently wading through a mire of academic papers, you could try taking the road to Mendeley (now I have Nellie the Elephant in my head... "trump, trump, trump!").

MA Student Exhibition: War & Conflict

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Culture and a Living Wage

Staff at the National Gallery in London are set to strike, reports the BBC, over the fact that the wages of some of those covered by the union are lower than the minimum living wage in London. This quote intrigued me:
"Staff who protect important artworks and assist the public are sick and tired of working 50 to 60 hour weeks and having to take second jobs to earn a living wage."
It seems to me to be a variation on the old conflation between intangible cultural value and economic free-market value. The argument is not so much that these workers just deserve to be paid for what they do, but that what they do is somehow worth more... Isn't it sad that museum workers have to resort to these arguments? Is as if we don't believe that our labour is equal to the labour of other workers, but that we have to somehow wrap ourselves in the aura of the art in order to ennoble and promote our work? Kind of like stay-at-home mums: they are valued not because their work is work, but because their work is connected to the sacred mysteries of raising the next generation...

Barclodiad y Gawres: mysterious burial mound

Barclodiad y Gawres is a Neolithic burial chamber which can be discovered on the island of Anglesey, off the coast of North Wales. My Dad was born on Anglesey and as a child I remember being fascinated by the strange mound reached by meandering path from Cable Bay (Bae Trecastell, so named because the Atlantic telegraph cable was located here). On a recent trip to Anglesey it was one of the places I really wanted to visit again. It was proof that childhood memories are distorted, in my mind the beach was much larger and the path that takes you to the burial mound was much longer in my head that it was in real life.

From the attractive beach you follow the track along the headland towards the sea...

The burial mound is rather inconspicuous as you approach it, the only indication that something so interesting lies beneath is a concrete dome that sits on top of a small hill facing the sea. My aunt remembers that this dome was once made of glass, evidently to allow light inside the mound. The entrance to the burial chamber is reached by walking over the hill and round to the 'front' so that the sea is behind you. In English Barclodiad y Gawres means 'apronful of the giantess' a very picturesque name that bears no real relation to the mound today, which was excavated and restored in the 1950s. I only imagine at one point the stones inside were open to the elements and looked like a jumble of stones as dropped from the apron of the careless giantess as she strolled around the North Welsh countryside.

The entrance is in the form of a passage carved out of the hill, which rises either side of the path as you walk towards the gated entrance shown in the photograph below. The tomb was built as a central round chamber, filled with massive stone slabs, and reached by a stone lined passage. The tomb was then covered with a mound of soil. When it was excavated in the 1950s the remains of the tomb were covered with a concrete dome, then covered with turf. Barclodiad y Gawres is known for its decorated stones and at some time in the past you were allowed to enter the main chamber to see the stones, which is reached by another gate inside. Unfortunately due to vandalism it is not possible to go inside the main chamber today to see them but apparently they are equal to the decorated stones in Irish tombs such as Newgrange.

Going into the entrance passage it immediately becomes very dark and gloomy and there is a jumble of rocks that now remain from the original tomb. I wonder if these were some of the slabs that would have lined the passage originally.

Looking through the entrance gates to the inner chamber reveals more slabs arranged in a circular fashion - concentric is the proper term I think. I hoped that by putting my camera through the gate I would be able to get some images of the decorations on the stones, however it proved impossible to do so. It is quite an eerie place however, the sounds of the sea muffled inside the dome, the walls of which can be glimpsed towards the back of the photograph below.

Barclodiad y Gawres keeps most of its secrets hidden and it is refreshing somehow that there is no modern visitor centre here or much interpretation except for a couple of information boards. It is left open for the visitor to imagine how the tomb would have looked in its heyday (one of the boards has a reconstructed diagram to help) or why the tomb was built upon this relatively lonely and wind-battered spot all those thousands of years ago.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Atomised Library

The Atomised Library, discussed here poses interesting questions regarding how information can (and should) be disseminated throughout the environment. It'd be interesting to hear your thoughts on this...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leicester Library Consultation

Really important - please read the link and fill in the survey if you live in Leicester and want to have a say in the planned changes to the City Library.

Jenny's Esoteric Delights

We like museums. We like weird places and strange stories.

So, with that in mind, here are some strange places and organisations for your delectation.

Subterranea Britannica

Atlas Obscura - I think I'd rather like to have an Atlas Obscura day in Leicester - are there any Obscure places you know of - or are there any exciting places in the many parts of the world our student community is based or from that you would like to tell us about?

ICOM contest: Reflecting Europe in its Museum Objects

Reflecting Europe in its Museum Objects


ICOM Europe, the European regional organization of the International
Council of Museums, and the Museum of Europe in Brussels have joined to
edit a publication that reflects Europe in selected museum objects. We
would like to encourage curators in Europe to choose objects, paintings
or photographs that they consider relevant for the comprehension of
Europe's diversity, its transnational relationships, its common
experiences and future perspectives. With this inclusive format of
participation we intend to trigger a debate on the representation of
Europe in its museum objects, because

- they reflect hopes and anxieties of every specific historical
- they show the panorama of human creativity despite war and
- they are witness of the finest examples of human expression,
craftsmanship and inventory spirit.

With this open call for contributions we address all museums in Europe
to participate in our joint endeavour. We encourage all National
Committees of ICOM and other professional museums networks in Europe to
disseminate this call and to initiate a debate about the process of
selecting relevant objects.


The publication will be the second edition of ICOM Europe's 'Views and
(see PDF of Vol. 1 on ICOM Europe website

Format: 14 x 14 cm, booklet illustrated with colored pictures
Language: English
Number of pages: 72
Printed copies: 5000
Dissemination: free of charge, except for postal fee.

The publication will first be distributed at the General Conference of
ICOM in Shanghai, China (Nov. 7 to Nov. 12, 2010) and it can then be
ordered by museums and professional organizations.


Your contribution will consist of a royalty free reproduction of the
object in form of a professional photograph (300 dpi) and an explanatory
text referring to the object, its relevance and meaning in the context
of the above mentioned aspects. Please make sure that the museum
direction approves your choice and text, because the selection will
refer to and mention the museum as well.

We kindly ask you to send your contribution form, which you can download
from the ICOM Europe website ( filled out in English
to: no later than March 19, 2010. The result
of the selection will be communicated on April 15, 2010.


The final selection of the objects to be included in the publication
will be made by a joint committee of members of the Board of ICOM Europe
and the Museum of Europe including:

Prof. Krzysztof Pomian, Scientific Director of the Museum of Europe
Benoît Remiche, General Secretary of the Museum of Europe
Dr. Isabelle Benoit, Director for International Development, Museum of
Europe, and Board Member of ICOM Europe
Dr. Udo Goesswald, Director of Neukoelln Museum, Berlin, and Chair of
ICOM Europe
Dr. Damodar Frlan, Director of the Ethnographical Museum of Croatia and
Board Member of ICOM Europe


The best contribution will receive a travel grant given by ICOM Europe
for the ICOM Europe Tour 2010 in China, which will be organized as a
pre-conference tour of the General Conference of ICOM in Shanghai at
the beginning of November 2010.

Udo Goesswald, Chair ICOM Europe
Krzysztof Pomian, Scientific Director of the Museum of Europe

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

CFP: Museums of the Middle East


The 2A Magazine Spring 2010 issue #13 focusses on Museums of and in the
Middle East

Museums of the Middle East
[Muses of the Orient]

Museums at the beginnings of the western world were temples to the Muses,
the nine young goddesses who presided over the arts, literature and the
sciences. Early museums began as private collections of individuals and
institutions housing objects of scientific, artistic or historical
importance for public viewing through exhibits. In the museum, the object,
in many cases removed in time, place and circumstance from its original
context, becomes a communicative tool that represents the past and its
significance in relation to the present. This representation makes the
museum a unique place, a hybrid space of diverse outcomes that distinguish
content from surface.

Yet museum architecture is the new 21st century cultural enterprise,
branding, corporate entities and big business. This museum-mania has lifted
the role of the museum from a collection of artifacts to sensationalism,
spectacle and the Bilbao effect. Issue#13 of 2A magazine will map the
current state of culture, the role of the museum and the making of
institutions as spaces to accommodate art and culture in the Middle East.
These organizations bring about a new and innovative 'urban abstraction'
and create new challenges and contradictions for the region: east vs. west,
high vs. popular taste, orientalism vs. modernism, colonialism vs. national
identity, censorship vs. participation, authenticity vs. reenactment,
identity vs. multiplicity.

The plethora of developments over the last ten years in the Middle East has
resulted in generating new and dynamic urban conditions and it is now
shifting to 'culture'. This has brought about a renewed interest for the
construction of institutions for art, architecture, history, heritage and

Contributors to the magazine may consider one or more of the following
themes relevant to building cultural institutions of the 21st century

Museums as Branding
Museums as Education
Museums as Architectural spaces
Museums as Art
Museums as Metropolitan hubs
Museums as Representation
Museums as Participation
Museums as Public spaces
Museums as Knowledge
Museums as Identity
Museums as Community and Regional Relevance
Museums as Private Collections
Museums as Archiving Culture

Call for submissions

The guest editors of issue #13 of 2A would like to invite submissions of
original research, essays, critical text, art works and presentations of
museums as well as art and cultural institutions of the Middle East:
architectural, urban, cultural, historical and social.

Guest Editors
George Katodrytis (Associate Professor of Architecture at the American
University of Sharjah, UAE)
Susanne Weiss (Museologist and Curator, Sharjah and Berlin)
Dr. Negar Hakim (Art Historian, Vienna, Austria)

Submission date

Full article submissions (text and high resolution images): 1 March 2010
Article length: maximum 3000 words

Submission format and email

All text to be in MS Word format and all images in jpeg format to: and

The 2A magazine ( ) will be published in spring 2010.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Museum Education Newsletter

Are you currently researching or evaluating any aspect of museum education
or interpretation? Do you know someone who is?

If so, MUSEUM EDUCATION MONITOR (MEM), the monthly e-newsletter, would like
to list the work in our upcoming February 2010 issue. We welcome listings by
museum workers, consultants, faculty, and students at all levels of study.

To assist these research efforts, MEM continues to offer a free introductory
one-year subscription to any student in a museum education-related course or
program. Complimentary subscriptions are also available to those museum
educators who are currently unwaged. Visit for details.

To share research or evaluation with others around the world, please send an
e-mail to that includes:
- name of project
- question(s) [no more than 50 words, please]
- how the data will be presented
- principal researcher(s)/ evaluator(s)
- site(s) where research is being conducted
- time span
- contact information
- key words/labels to describe the project [no more than 4 or 5, please].
For possible labels from past listings, see the MEM blog, "FORUM:
Research and Resources in Museum Education" at

All listings are free of charge and displayed in their language of
origin. Deadline for the February MEM is Friday, February 19.

FYI, research listings in the January 2010 MEM include:
- Museum Activity Guides (USA)
- More Than A Meal: The Impact of Museum Dining on the Visitor's Museum
Experience (USA)
- Science Museum: Collecting Stories Project (UK)
- plus updates on a score of recent theses and dissertations!
Contact me at to request a complimentary copy of this

Please get in touch for more information about this call or to discuss your
research. I look forward to hearing from you!

M. Christine Castle, Editor, Museum Education Monitor
For more information about Museum Education Monitor or to subscribe see

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

Museums Australia 2010 National Conference 28 Sep-2 Oct 2010 at The University of Melbourne

On behalf of the Program Committee of the 14th annual Museums Australia National Conference, we invite you to submit an abstract in response to our call for papers. The Conference will offer a range of plenary and concurrent sessions, presentations, break-outs and panel forums relating to the theme Interesting Times: New Roles for Collections. Topics cover a wide range of discussion from Collections in communities, cultural diplomacy, collections and commerce, creativity, language and collections in peril.

Abstracts may be no more than 250 words and may optionally be peer-reviewed. The Call for Abstracts will close Monday 1 March 2010. For more information and details of suggested sub-themes, go to:

Family Tickets for All (and a chance to be a spy)

I've recently started volunteering for the Kids in Museums Campaign. I had fun a couple of weeks ago at the launch of their 2010 Manifesto, which took place early one morning at the British Museum. There I was, hobnobbing with the great and the good - Ed Balls, Mariella Frostrup, Neil MacGregor, Michael Rosen (in ripped combat trousers). Ok, so I was actually just taking their coats, but anyway it was fun, and the pastries were inspirational!

As well as the Manifesto, they were also launching the Flexible Family Ticket Campaign, a consultation into museum family tickets, and whether they fit the needs of modern families. In their own words:

"What's the shape of today's British family?
▪ Mum plus her four kids.
▪ Dad plus his only child, and the young cousin who lives with them.
▪ Grandparents and their grandchildren for whom they care.
▪ Big sister and very little sister, whom she looks after.
▪ Mum, Dad, Auntie and her daughter.

What's the shape of a typical family ticket to a museum or gallery?
▪ Two plus two.

Museums can charge for entry or be free. But there may be a charge for special exhibitions and events even at free museums. To make families feel welcome, family tickets need to reflect all the different shapes and sizes of today's families."

They are therefore asking people to answer the following questions:

1. What has been your experience of a family ticket?
2. Did it fit your family?
3. What would you like a family ticket to look like?

If any blog readers out there have experience of family tickets, all us folks at Kids in Museums would appreciate you taking the time to go to the Ticket Watch website and answer these questions.

Also, if anyone wants to be a spy, and check out the family ticket for their local museum, that would be very handy. You don't have to dress as James Bond, but you can if you want. Info can be emailed to

Thanks all!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Andrew Wulf wanted to let the community know that he was proud to represent the School of Museum Studies Department when he gave a paper last month at the "Culture and International History IV" conference in Koln, Germany. There's a link to the conference, organized by Jessica Gienow- Hecht, here: Andrew tells me that his paper will become a large section or perhaps the main focus of his dissertation. It's title is: "American Attempts at Cultural Diplomacy through International Exhibitions during the Reagan Presidency, 1981-1989." Thanks Andrew for this information!

Wah wah, nobody loves the BM

Iran has a hissy fit about the delay of a loan: The first "bill of rights", cuneiform edition.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Museums for Social Harmony
7 to 12 November 2010
Shanghai, China

Contact name: Annette B. Fromm

The theme for ICOM 2010 is Museums for Social Harmony - different approaches to the concept of harmony and invites to examinations of how museums can contribute to processes that are important for the development of societies

Organized by: International Committee of Museums of Ethnography
Deadline for abstracts/proposals: 31 April 2010

CFP: Thinking About 'Things' (TAT): Interdisciplinary Futures in Material Culture

Thinking About 'Things' (TAT): Interdisciplinary Futures in Material Culture
10 to 12 May 2010
Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Contact name: Sarah Conrad Gothie

An international and interdisciplinary graduate student conference designed to explore material culture and the ways in which we create it, interact with it, use it, discard it, and study it.

Organized by: University of Michigan
Deadline for abstracts/proposals: 20 February 2010

Staffordshire Hoard: Urgent Appeal

The Art Fund has launched a £3.3 million drive to secure the Staffordshire Hoard for the nation:

If we fail to reach £3.3 million by 17 April 2010, the treasure will be returned to the finder and the landowner and could end up being sold on the open market.

...some of the smallest fragments are valued at just £20. Each of us could save one such piece. Together we can save it all.

Should the money be raised, the Art Fund plans for the hoard to go on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke.

To contribute to the fund, visit the campaign website.

Leicester's historic buildings at risk

For those that are interested, you can access the City Council's register of historic buildings at risk by clicking on the following link.

H@R 2009.pdf - Google Docs

If only I had a few million quid to spare...

Friday, February 05, 2010

New Leicester Publication: Re-Presenting Disability

Re-Presenting Disability
Activism and Agency in the Museum

Edited by Richard Sandell, Jocelyn Dodd, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson

List Price: £23.99
ISBN: 978-0-415-49473-1
Binding: Paperback (also available in Hardback)
Published by: Routledge
Publication Date: 27/01/2010
Pages: 304

About the Book

Re-Presenting Disability addresses issues surrounding disability representation in museums and galleries, a topic which is receiving much academic attention and is becoming an increasingly pressing issue for practitioners working in wide-ranging museums and related cultural organisations.

This volume of provocative and timely contributions, brings together twenty researchers, practitioners and academics from different disciplinary, institutional and cultural contexts to explore issues surrounding the cultural representation of disabled people and, more particularly, the inclusion (as well as the marked absence) of disability-related narratives in museum and gallery displays. The diverse perspectives featured in the book offer fresh ways of interrogating and understanding contemporary representational practices as well as illuminating existing, related debates concerning identity politics, social agency and organisational purposes and responsibilities, which have considerable currency within museums and museum studies.

Re-Presenting Disability explores such issues as:

In what ways have disabled people and disability-related topics historically been represented in the collections and displays of museums and galleries? How can newly emerging representational forms and practices be viewed in relation to these historical approaches?

How do emerging trends in museum practice – designed to counter prejudiced, stereotypical representations of disabled people – relate to broader developments in disability rights, debates in disability studies, as well as shifting interpretive practices in public history and mass media?

What approaches can be deployed to mine and interrogate existing collections in order to investigate histories of disability and disabled people and to identify material evidence that might be marshalled to play a part in countering prejudice? What are the implications of these developments for contemporary collecting?
How might such purposive displays be created and what dilemmas and challenges are curators, educators, designers and other actors in the exhibition-making process, likely to encounter along the way?

How do audiences – disabled and non-disabled – respond to and engage with interpretive interventions designed to confront, undercut or reshape dominant regimes of representation that underpin and inform contemporary attitudes to disability?

Table of Contents

Part 1: New Ways of Seeing 1. Activist Practice Richard Sandell and Jocelyn Dodd 2. Picturing People with Disabilities: Classical Portraiture as Reconstructive Narrative Rosemarie Garland-Thomson 3. Agents at Angkor Lain Hart 4. See No Evil Victoria Phiri 5. Ghosts in the War Museum Ana Carden-Coyne 6. Behind the Shadow of Merrick David Hevey 7. Disability Reframed: Challenging Visitor Perceptions in the Museum Jocelyn Dodd, Ceri Jones, Debbie Jolly and Richard Sandell Part 2: Interpretive Journeys and Experiments 8. To Label the Label? ‘Learning Disability’ and Exhibiting ‘Critical Proximity’ Helen Graham 9. Hurting and Healing: Reflections on Representing Mental Illness in Museums. Jo Besley and Carol Low 10. Histories of Disability and Medicine: Reconciling Historical Narratives and Contemporary Values Julie Anderson and Lisa O’Sullivan 11. Revealing Moments: Representations of Disability and Sexuality Elizabeth Mariko Murray and Sarah Jacobs 12. The Red Wheelchair in the White Snowdrift Geraldine Chimirri-Russell 13. Face to Face: Exhibiting and Interpreting Facial Disfigurement in a Museum Context Emma Chambers Part 3: Unsettling Practices 14. ‘Out from Under’: A Brief History of Everything. Kathryn Church, Melanie Panitch, Catherine Frazee and Phaedra Livingstone 15. Transforming Practice: Disability Perspectives and the Museum Shari Rosenstein Werb and Tari Hartman Squire 16. Reciprocity, Accountability, Empowerment: Emancipatory Principles and Practices in the Museum Heather Hollins 17. Disability, Human Rights and the Public Gaze: the Losheng Story Museum Chia-Li Chen 18. A Museum for All? The Norwegian Museum of Deaf History and Culture Hanna Mellemsether 19. Collective Bodies: What Museums do for Disability Studies. Katherine Ott

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Discovering Britain: Avebury

This video, narrated by John Betjamin, is great. Just take a looky!

The darker side of museum work

The BBC reports on the content of records recently released by the National Portrait Gallery.

(Best not to read if you're of a particularly squeamish nature and a rodent-fancier).

BBC News - Gallery staff 'stamped on rats'

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Further to my post regarding the funding cuts, here is a petition to save the Chair of Paleography at KCL

Save Paleography

Sign if you would like to!

Probling the Boundaries: Making Sense of Madness Conference

A Global Network for Dynamic Research and Publishing

Call for Papers

3rd Global Conference


Tuesday 14th September – Thursday 16th September 2010
Oriel College, Oxford

This inter-disciplinary research conference seeks to explore issues of madness across historical periods and within cultural, political and social contexts. We are also interested in exploring the place of madness in persons and interpersonal relationships and across a range of critical perspectives. Seeking to encourage innovative inter, multi and post disciplinary dialogues, we warmly welcome papers from all disciplines, professions and vocations which struggle to understand the place of madness in the constitution of persons, relationships and the complex interlacing of self and other.

In particular papers, workshops, presentations and pre-formed panel proposals are invited on any of the following themes:

1. The Value of Madness or Why is it that We Need Madness?
~ Critical explorations: beyond madness/sanity/insanity
~ Continuity and difference: always with us yet never quite the same
~ Repetition and novelty: the incessant emergence and re-emergence of madness
~ Profound attraction and desire; fear of the abyss and the radical unknown
~ Naming, defining and understanding the elusive

2. The Passion of Madness or Madness and the Emotions
~ Love as madness; uncontrollable passion; unrestrainable love
~ Passion and love as a remaking of life and self
~ Gender and madness; the feminine and the masculine
~ Anger, resentment, revenge, hate, evil
~ I would rather vomit, thank you; revulsion, badness and refusing to comply

3. The Boundaries of Madness or Resisting Normality
~ Madness, sanity and the insane
~ Being out of your mind, crazy, deranged … yet, perfectly sane
~ Deviating from the normal; defining the self against the normal
~ Control, self-control and the pull of the abyss
~ When the insane becomes normal; when evil reins social life

4. Lunatics and the Asylum or Power and the Politics of Madness
~ The social allure and fear of madness; the institutions of confining mad people
~ Servicing normality by castigating the insane and marginalizing lunatics
~ Medicine, psychiatry, psychology, law and the constructions of madness; madness as illness
~ Contributions of the social sciences to the making and the critique of the making of madness
~ Representations, explanations and the critique of madness from the humanities and the arts

5. Creativity, Critique and Cutting Edge
~ Madness as genius, outstanding, out of the ordinary, spectacularly brilliant
~ The art of madness; the science of madness
~ Music, painting, dance, theater: it is crazy to think of art without madness
~ The language and communication of madness: who can translate?
~ Creation as an unfolding of madness

6. Unrestrained and Boundless or The Liberating Promise of Madness
~ Metaphors of feeling free, unrestrained, capable, lifted from reality
~ Madness as clear-sightedness, as opening up possibilities, as re-visioning of the world
~ The future, the prophetic, the unknown; the epic, the heroic and the tragic
~ The unreachable and untouchable knowledge of madness
~ The insanity of not loving madness

7. Lessons for Self and Other or Lessons for Life about and from Madness
~ Cultural and social constructions of madness; images of the mad, crazy, insane, lunatic, abnormal
~ What is real? Who defines reality? Learning from madness how to cope with reality
~ Recognising madness in oneself; relativising madness in others
~ Love, intimacy, care and the small spaces of madness
~ Critical and ethical implosions of normality and normalness; sane in insane places and insane in sane places

Papers will be accepted which deal with related areas and themes.

The 2010 meeting of Madness will run alongside our project on Villains and Villainy and we anticipate holding sessions in common between the two projects. We welcome any papers considering the problems or addressing issues of Mad Villains, Madness and Villainy and related themes.

Papers will be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 26th March 2010. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 13th August 2010.

300 word abstracts should be submitted to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats, following this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract
E-mails should be entitled: Madness Abstract Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs

* Gonzalo Araoz
University of Cumbria, Cumbria, United Kingdom
E-mail: Gonzalo Araoz
* Maria Vaccarella
Hub Leader, Making Sense Of: and Marie Curie Research Fellow, King’s College, London
E-mail: Maria Vaccarella
* Rob Fisher
Network Founder and Network Leader, Inter-Disciplinary.Net, Freeland, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
E-mail: Rob Fisher

The conference is part of the ‘Making Sense Of:’ series of research projects. The aim of the conference is to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All papers accepted for and presented at this conference are eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into a themed ISBN hard copy volume.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

Brown Bag Seminar

Dr Louise Govier "Leaders in Co-Creation: Why and How Museum Could Develop Their Co-Creative Practive with the Public, Building on Ideas from the Performing Arts and Other Non-Museum Organisations"

Dr Govier is the MLA's Clore Leadership Fellow. Her research has been focused around the problems museums face in terms of 'co-creation', and what they can learn from other sectors about co-creation.

Firstly, what do we mean by co-creation? There are various definitions, but it comes under the wider trend of working with the public and how we can engage with them. As far as museums are concerned, there still remain many definitions.

Nina Simon has defined four terms of participation - contribution, collaboration, co-creation and co-option. Though these ideas are similar, they do differ. Partly this is about understanding where the power relationships lie within museums. In the first two, the power lies with the museum - they define the space and the parameters within which the project functions. In the latter two, the space belongs to the community. But when Dr Govier talks about co-creation, she means a combination of collaboration and co-creation - power is important, but here the research does not focus on this. The main point, for her, is to make something that is of benefit to all interested parties.

At the MLA conference in October 2008, Dr Govier became aware of a number of problems - people were not really engaging in the debates surrounding participation. Many people had concerns - many were afraid of the idea - but they didn't feel able to present their points for risk of sounding non-PC. More and more work is coming out all the time, but there still needs to be more work, especially in terms of how the reality does in fact match the reality. Often these projects, however brilliant, are limited in scope - to the community and to be purely ABOUT the community, as if this was all they had to contribute. Often the location of these projects are very limited - or they are kept online. This means that often projects cannot be found, or that they do not make any real impact upon the museum space.

Many people also voiced serious problems in actually managing this on a practical level. There are always, of course, issues regarding expectation on the part of the communities and the staff of museums. Often 'leadership' is brought into the debate, which ends up, often, with the issue just getting passed on and on and never getting resolved.

The advantages of the Clore leadership programme is that you get to work with other institutions to learn lessons. So Dr Govier began to ask how these other cultural forms could contribute to the understanding and development of the co-creation principle, and how these ideas might be marketed to the individuals within museums.

Her first stop was, surprisingly, business literature on collective creativity. There is an extensive amount of work that shows that groups can produce better results than individuals - and there is, after all, the continuing proliferation of co-created websites such as Wikipedia and products such as Linux. When that creative pool is extended to the public, the public can design their own products, and they are therefore more engaged with them. Those audiences may provide ideas that had not previously been thought of. This seems a good basis to work with museums who are lacking in community engagement.

Leadership theory provided another starting point, especially with regard to the leadership qualities we need now, in this changing world of increasing 'collective creativity'. How do you support those self selected groups of people in creating an idea, how do you find them, how do you create the environment where collectives can arise, and then how can you harness their power - and stop it being scary? Collaboration is always an issue. Moving projects forward is often difficult, and we need to work out what leadership qualities are needed for that. Overall, the conclusions seem to have suggested that there needs to be a leader, someone who can maintain a framework within which creativity can flourish. A call for creativitiy and co-creation needs to recognise the strengths and the weaknesses of various participants in order that everyone can be valued for what they provide. The audience wanted to gain from the museum's expertise, and the museum often needs to maintain the protected status of objects.

Many projects have been successful in the performing arts - what can museums learn from their work? Dr Govier conducted three case studies - Dance United, which co-creates productions with a variety of non-dancers, specifically their production of 'Destino' with Sadler's Wells; Birmingham Opera Company who produce only using non-professionals in non-conventional theatres in Birmingham; and Theatre Royal Stratford East, who hands over the artistic programming to the community.

Learning why you want to engage in co-creation is critical. Is it about social inclusion? Audience development? Diversity development? A sense of entrepreneurship? Personal reasons? The appreciation of the abilities of non-professionals? Ultimately, their aims were to create great art. This is essential to the success of a project. What's the point in engaging if you don't allow people to produce something great? Why you desire to commence such programmes deeply influences the way in which you do it.

How did these companies manage risk? Some people took a very hands-off approach, and some took a stronger creative lead - and in many cases, the latter is more successful. Self awareness, the awareness of other people and the situation is crucial.

What does this mean for museums? We need leadership throughout the museum workforce, at the top and at a project level. Co-creation doesn't mean no leadership - we need a flexible approach to leadership, which uses situation specific understanding in order to respond appropriately. This means being clear about aims and objectives. Often in museums it is assumed that co-creation is all about social inclusion. But this is overly restrictive - what about co-creating for creating great art, and great museums? Museums need to recognise their ability as creative artists and embrace it. We need to understand the benefits, tangible and intangible, that collective work can bring.

Good luck to you all! Now go forth and create!!!

Dr Govier can be contacted at

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Monday, February 01, 2010

Funding Cuts and the Impact

I am pretty sure that most people reading this will have heard about the proposed funding cuts to higher education. While this is clearly going to impact at all levels, I do feel that a number of issues haven't been so clearly articulated in the media, which has tended to concentrate, in my understanding, on the undergraduate market.

Firstly, the impact upon research councils. This is of huge importance, not merely for individuals funded by them, but for research groups, departmental work and those trying to set up conferences and collaborative endeavors on a limited budget.

Secondly, when we begin to lose subjects, we begin to loose our heads. Yes, I have a history background, yes, I like old books, but I was really saddened to hear about the loss of the chair of Paleography at KCL. It might not be popular, but it's valuable. I'm saddened, as much as anything, by a world in which popularity constitutes the only marker of value.

Yes, there may well be 6000 less university places next year, but that just means people will have to be better and try harder, and I really don't think that holds a candle to the loss of knowledge.