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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Writing Up: The Pleasure of Graphs

Just wanted to say thanks, Attic readers, for being supportive about my last post; I managed to finish my chapter today, slightly ahead of schedule, though somewhat under my projected word count, and now I have a few spare days in which I can catch up on other stuff! I'm a visual person, and I like facts and figures to track my accomplishments (otherwise I undervalue them), so if you're like me, here's a pie chart of my progress so far:
(For those of you who may be red-green colourblind, or otherwise visually impaired, I have completed 39.75% of my word count.)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Adopt a Museum

Have you ever visited a museum which isn't getting the recognition it deserves? If so, you may be interested in the latest project from Museum140 entitled 'Adopt-a-Museum'.

Museum140 are a collaborative social media group launched by Jenni Fuchs of National Museums Scotland which works with museums and other cultural heritage sites. Adopt-a-Museum aims to encourage museum visitors to champion a museum of their choice while providing an online platform for discussion and dissemination.

Here are the details from the Adopt-a-Museum site:

The back story:

You’ve all seen them, the lists that regularly circulate around the internet – whether it’s the most attended, most popular, best museums or top museums in the world, it’s always the usual suspects that get a name check. But what about the unsung heroes of the museum world? Those museums that don’t display famous art or get millions of visitors every year, but that are just really good at what they do. Perhaps they engage visitors in their subject matter in a really creative way, do stellar outreach or community work, or deliver fantastic events on a shoestring budget. We bet you can think of many other reasons.

In April, the Museum140 team visited the Deutsches Röntgen Museum in Lennep, Germany, and were blown away by how amazing it was. We were also shocked to discover they only have 30 visitors on average a day. Why did more people not know about this gem of a museum? At that moment, the idea for ‘Adopt-a-Museum’ was born. Then, when we were analysing the stats from our ‘Museum Memories‘ pilot project, we tweeted about the museums with the most @ replies, which included more of the usual suspects. Someone promptly tweeted back saying “@Museum140 Still let’s hear it for the little guys…” That was all the confirmation we needed to turn our idea into a real project.

The idea:

As the name implies, the idea it that people ‘adopt’ a museum that they would like to champion. Of course, it’s not a real adoption, there’s no money or other official sponsorship involved, think of it in the sense of being an ambassador. On a regular basis (we’re aiming for weekly, if enough people get involved), the ‘Adopt-a-Museum’ website will feature a new museum for you to discover, and if it’s a museum you’re already familiar with you’ll be able to add your own stories via the comments. We’ve also integrated a map where we’ll plot out all the entries, so you can get a better idea of where all these great museums are – or maybe plan your next museum holiday!

The rules:

  • No self promotion, that means you can’t ‘adopt’ a museum that you currently work at, volunteer for, sit on the Board of, own (if you happen to own a museum) etc.

  • None of the usual suspects, i.e. museums that regularly feature on those best, most attended, most popular lists. After all, that’s the whole point of this project.

  • You need to have visited at least once, because we think you can’t really be an ambassador for something you’ve never seen before.
  • How to take part:

    If you would like to ‘adopt’ a museum and write a short feature about it, please contact us and we’ll send you the questionnaire. You can also participate by commenting on existing posts, or checking out the museum locations on the map. If you end up visiting one of our adopted museums as a result of this project, we’d love to hear about it. Just comment on the relevant post, or send us an email. And of course you can take part by helping to spread the word. If you’re tweeting about it, please use the hashtag #adoptamuseum. Thanks!

    Find out more here.

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    On Curating

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
    -Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride, 1987.

    Attic Alumna Amy linked to an article highlighting the rising popularity of the micro-blogging service Tumblr, whose headline was "Curating Online: Hobbies for Hipsters."

    Back in the day, when I was an undergraduate, and people would ask me what my professional ambitions were, I would respond with, "I want to be a curator." Confronted with blank looks, I would have to explain that a curator was the person who put on exhibitions in a museum, but would inevitably be dogged by the persistent misunderstanding that I wanted to become a conservator - because, apparently, that's the only museum job laypeople know about.

    So I am grateful that "curation" has entered common parlance. However, this development leaves me with the fear that now, when I say "I want to work as a curator", people will think I want to get paid for a "hipster hobby" on "the interwebs". Tumblr itself isn't doing us museum professionals any favours: its "spotlight" feature is divided into categories of users, one of which is "curators". While some of the descriptions do seem legitimate uses of the title ("STATE is an online exhibition platform that features new projects and statements by artists who use the internet as a primary element in their work") others are not so much: sharing internet content, however narrowly specialized, is not curation. By that definition, links on your Facebook wall are acts of curation, and they just aren't.

    I might be a pretentious intellectual, and a bit of a snobby crank, but I really do feel like it's time for a Susan-Pearce-like research project which would seek to investigate and define this. Whereas Pearce wrote about individual collecting, and sought to distinguish it from hoarding, I wonder what she would say about defining these acts of collecting as a form of self-curation. And then, when extended to an internet-based common-place book, does that collecting and sharing become curation simply by dint of its having an audience who are exposed to themed information and media? I'm not talking just about acts of digital preservation, or collecting web-based art; I am asking a more epistemological question. Are we on the Attic "curating" posts about museum news, conferences, and the PhD experience? Is the internet a kind of museum and are we a tiny exhibition space within it? And if so, how does that transform the definition of museum, the professionalisation of curatorship, and the audience experience?

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    New links added to the sidebar

    As we have a lot of links on the right-hand side bar I thought I would just draw people's attention to a new one that has appeared - below the list of contributors and 'Stop Press' news.

    This is 'University of Leicester' links and has links to the University's Almanac, dates for terms and semesters, and the revised Research Code of Conduct (for which you will need to log in with your CFS account to access this).

    If there are any other University links you think are useful then please suggest them using the comments function below.

    The Writing is the Hardest Part (apologies to Tom Petty)

    Long ago, when I embarked on my long-day's-journey-into-night AKA grad school (in fact, I don't remember if it was before my MA or my PhD), a family friend looked grave and said that the last year was the hardest because of the writing-up. I didn't believe him then, because it seemed to me that formulating a feasible research question and finding information were such immense hurdles, that after overcoming those, writing would be easy! I'd never had real problems with writing - I'm a pretty verbal person. I used to do speech and debate in school, I am a (sorta-) published poet, and while the mere thought of talking to strangers on the telephone gives me hives, a blank sheet of paper or a document have never been sources of anxiety for me.

    Until now.

    You see, kids, I have entered the Twilight Zone known as writing-up. I am not unprepared: I have a ton of material, and lots of Thoughts and Opinions, but the problem is, I am so afraid of failure that I have a failure to launch. It's thesis performance anxiety - not at all sexy, and there are no heavily-marketed rhombus-shaped blue pharmaceuticals for it. Basically, the routine is this:
    • I wake up and remember that I have to write my god-damned thesis.
    • I open up the document and re-read the meaningless drivel I have written so far. It's not fail-worthy, exactly, but it's definitely not good. It just doesn't really go anywhere. Forget about being excellent, this writing might merit a 53 from a generous faculty member who would write "a brave attempt" in the comments.
    • I get sleepy because I am bored and also because my napping is a coping strategy:
      by a sleep to say we end/ The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks/ That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation /Devoutly to be wished.
    • I nap and wake up three hours later, hungry because it's three hours later, and because I am now emotionally eating to mask the emotional distress at having failed to produce a coherent piece of work or to make any headway at all. So my soft gut also demonstrates my weak willpower.
    • I find other distractions - terrible films or television, massively ambitious sewing projects, the internet, solitaire, filing tax documents, or whatever it freaking takes! And when my family asks me "how's the writing going?", I resist the urge to cry.
    Because it's tough. It's damned difficult, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
    But that doesn't mean it's any less worthwhile. We shall overcome!

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    There's hope out there for good causes.

    It always pleases me when something really worthwhile gets funding. It lets you know that it's still out there, that there's still hope and that people still care about their heritage. That's why I'm pleased to announce that HLF are supporting the Birmingham Coffin Works redevelopment! It's a strange place, which has recently been used for theatrical productions, and it sounds as though they've even more ambitious plans.

    This is great news. The Birmingham Conservation Trust do a wonderful job, and they have many more projects on the go. Two of interest to me, for no other reason than they seem so mysterious and wonderfully evocative of lost worlds, are the Archway of Tears, which led to the former Workhouse, and the Rookery, a rather palimpsestual 18th century house. Such places, which can serve to be the heart of a community, particularly in deprived areas such as Ladywood, deserve to be rescued. They're needed. And they're magical.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Ph.D. scholarship on the material history of blindness (Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen)

    A three-year Ph.D. scholarship has been announced at Medical Museion,
    Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen. The scholarship is
    part of the research project ‘Vision and touch: a material history of the
    world of blindness’, which deals with the history of blindness and its
    intricate relation to vision, representation, touch and physical objects.

    The aim of the project is to study the history of blindness from a material
    culture perspective. This will be done through the use of Medical Museion’s
    historical collection of artefacts related to visual impairment. Objects
    such as three-dimensional maps, choral books in Braille and palpable models
    of famous statues and buildings, point in a very concrete way to a world in
    which vision has ceased to prevail. Besides bearing witness of the daily
    routines at the medical and pedagogical institutions for the blind, the
    material heritage of blindness stresses the cultural tension in contemporary
    Western society between vision in all its abundant technologies and touch as
    a socially restrained mode of experience.

    The project combines a historical viewpoint with a museum studies approach.
    The Ph.D.-part of the project can, for instance, relate to questions
    concerning blindness and the cultural history of the senses and blindness,
    artefacts and touch from the perspective of museum studies.

    The formal announcement can be found
    Deadline for applications is 1 September 2011. For further information
    contact Jan Eric Olsén,

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Association of Art Historians: 38th Annual AAH Conference & Bookfair

    38th Annual AAH Conference & Bookfair, Association of Art Historians

    Department of History of Art, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AAM

    29 - 31 March 2012

    This session explores participation, liveness, interactivity, process-based performative practices and performance for the camera in interdisciplinary practices, presented in visual arts gallery spaces. Live art and other multi-art form works that combine visual arts with performing arts such as dance and physical theatre have an intricate relationship with the canon of art history. Art history has been wary of live art’s tendency to encourage increased formal and conceptual risk-taking and its interdisciplinary nature. Time-based performances have also challenged the conventions of documentation and the viewer’s access to the art experience. A live art practitioner has yet to win the Turner Prize.

    The session is particularly interested in new research analysing the intricate relationship between art history, live and performing arts and museum and gallery space; what it means to present, curate and create interdisciplinary performative work for gallery spaces. The Museums & Exhibitions Members’ Group invites papers from a wide range of practitioners, including art historians, curators and artists, to consider performativity in gallery spaces across all historic and contemporary periods.

    The 2012 AAH Annual Conference will showcase the diversity and richness of art history in the UK and globally over an extensive chronological range. Like The Open University itself, AAH2012 is open to all people, places and ideas. This three-day event will present a broad scope of geographies and methodologies, ranging from object-based studies, socio-historical analyses, theoretical discourses, visual culture of the moving image, exhibition cultures and display. Sessions and papers will reflect the composition of the wide constituency that is art history today. Further conference info & fees:

    If you would like to propose a paper, please email the session convenors directly. Please submit an abstract of your proposed paper in no more than 250 words, your name and institutional affiliation (if you have one). You will receive acknowledgement of receipt of your submission within two weeks. Please read the Conditions of Submission at:

    Session Convenors:
    Dr Outi Remes, South Hill Park Arts Centre
    Dr Marika Leino, Christie’s Education

    Annual AAH Conference, Museums and Exhibitions Group, Association of Art Historians, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ, Tel: +44(0)20 7490 3211.
    Visit the website at

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    CFP: World Humanities Forum

    See the link for a call for papers of the 1st World Humanities Forum. This forum is organised by UNESCO, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Korea and Busan Metropolitan City, in co-operation with the Korean National Commission for UNESCO and the National Research Foundation of Korea.

    Some of you might be interested in the theme of this forum. Please follow the link for further information. The forum will be from November 24-26, 2011 and the call closing date is August 20.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Award - Smithsonian Fellowships in Museum Practice

    The Smithsonian's Fellowships in Museum Practice (FMP) program is a professional development opportunity for experienced museum practitioners, academics, and training providers. It was developed in response to an articulated need by the field for career development and renewal opportunities at advanced levels.

    The program, unique in the museum profession worldwide, supports research about issues of theory and practice in education, curation, exhibition, administration and other museum functions and disciplines. It offers competitively selected individuals an opportunity to study a museological topic of their choice for up-to-six months in residence at the Smithsonian.

    For more info, clicky the linky...

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Next Conference!

    [Sir Thomas Moore's Utopia is depicted here in the original 1516 edition; Walters Art Museum.]
    Museobunny and his helper bunnies are so grateful to everyone who made Curiouser and Curiouser such a success. They have all had a lovely break, and are now ready to plan the next conference, which will be called Museum Utopias. Stay tuned for a call for papers and more details! In case you want to share your excitement, the Twitter hashtag is #mutopia2012

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Travelling? Go to a museum!

    At least one of our cohort is going to be heading Stateside this summer, and for those of our followers who have some time on your hands, the BBC presents a list of must-see exhibitions on across the US in the next few months. Anything you'd add to the list?

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Final Call for Papers for 'The Sensuous Object', 29 - 30 September 2011

    Here’s the final (and somewhat extended) call for presentations for the workshop ‘The Sensuous Object' to be held at the Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen on 29-30 September 2011.

    ‘The Sensuous Object’ is an interdisciplinary, participatory workshop concerned with ways we actually engage with objects and aimed at researchers in all disciplines interested in the materiality of actual artefacts and ways of understanding objects through the senses (smell and touch, ambience, aesthetic, visual thinking, tacit knowledge, sound and seduction).

    1. An actual, material object must be central and a present part of the workshop. This artefact should be or relate in some way to objects found in medical museums.

    You are welcome to arrange to choose an object from Medical Museion collections,
    or bring your own,
    or if you send a photo of an object from another medical museum I can try and find an equivalent here,
    or if we can’t find it you can use an image of an object.

    2. Engagement is vital; emphasis is on demonstration, experimentation and participation.

    3. This is an opportunity for presenters to try out ideas and test new formats in a friendly environment where the starting point for discussion is the object present rather than previous research results.

    We anticipate the definition of sensuous and approaches to presenting understanding of materiality of objects to be varied, even experimental!

    How we experience and understand objects as sensuous objects that have been realized, produced, consumed through and by our senses, and how they impact on us and how we impact on them, are just a few of the expected discussion topics. By inviting participants to choose actual objects and use them as central to their presentations, the aim is to challenge established concepts and reveal new possibilities in our experiencing of and understanding through objects, using sensuous approaches. It will provide opportunity for presenters to test ideas, try out new formats of presentation and discussion, and examine their own research through the sensuous object.

    The idea for this workshop began as a way to research objects from Medical Museion’s collections and for the objects themselves to form the basis of further research. Medical Museion is a university museum at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, with an extensive collection of historical medical objects from the 18th through 20th centuries and with internationally award-winning exhibitions. Its field is the history of health and disease in a cultural perspective, with a focus on the material and iconographic culture of recent biomedicine. Research at Medical Museion is seen as essential to underpinning university teaching strategies for collection and conservation of medical heritage, exhibition making, and other material-based communication practices.

    Speakers are invited to present their understanding of an object in terms of their methodological approaches and areas of research. Research areas of confirmed participants include senses of smell and touch, ambience, aesthetic, visual thinking, tacit knowledge, sound, and seduction.

    Confirmed speakers:
    Laura Gonzalez (Glasgow School of Art)
    Ansa Lonstrup (University of Aarhus)
    Anette Stenslund (Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen)
    Jan-Eric Olsén (Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen)
    Carsten Friberg (Aarhus School of Architecture)
    Mats Fridlund (University of Gothenburg)

    Postdoc Lucy Lyons ( and PhD student Anette Stenslund (, Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen, 18 Fredericiagade, Copenhagen (

    More information:
    If you are interested in presenting, please email a 200 word abstract by 15 JULY. If you would like to participate but do not wish to present, please email a paragraph about your area of research by 5 September. Contact:

    ‘The Sensuous Object’ workshop is free and Medical Museion will provide tea and coffee breaks and host lunch on both days and a drinks reception on 29 September. Participants will need to arrange and pay for their own travel and accommodation.

    Find out more here.

    Saturday, July 09, 2011

    anticurate - An Interesting Project for You...

    macBirmingham, the new arts centre in the city, are running anticurate - an experiment in collaborative curation between arts centre 'anticurators' and artists. The Open Day for artwork submission is, unfortunately, today, but non the less, I think this would be an interesting thing for anyone in the area to visit, and review how well such an 'experiment' worked. mac is an interesting project in itself - and they always seem to have plenty of interesting stuff on, from art exhibitions, workshops, theatre performances. It just reflects the revitalization which is going on in a much, and in many ways wrongly, denigrated city. Anyway, enough from me. Here's the stuff from the website...

    anticurate is imagined as mac birmingham’s version of an open exhibition. In association with mac birmingham, artist Trevor Pitt has devised the anticurate project as a platform to explore democratic and collective approaches to exhibition curating.

    Over six weeks mac birmingham’s main gallery will host six unique exhibitions that will be selected from artworks submitted at the anticurate Open Day 9 July.

    Each exhibition will be organised by groups that we have invited to curate an exhibition that we are calling ‘anticurators’.

    To create their unique exhibitions the anticurators will be using a flexible exhibition structure and space that has been specially designed by Juneau Projects for anticurate, and they will be supported by independent curators Charlie Levine and Trevor Pitt, the exhibitions team and Producers at mac birmingham.

    In the sixth and final week, all works submitted will be displayed so all artwork submitted it will be guaranteed to be seen.

    Exhibition 1: Thu 4-Sun 7 Aug

    Selected by members of the Extra Special People professional development programme at Eastside Projects: Alison Tarry and Tim Stock.

    Preview Wed 3 Aug 6pm

    Exhibition project 2: Thu 11- Sun 14 Aug

    Selected by members of mac birmingham staff

    Preview Wed 10 Aug 6pm

    Exhibition project 3: Thu 18- Sun 21 Aug

    Selected by members of Ikon Youth Programme and Project Platform

    Preview Wed 17 Aug 6pm

    Exhibition project 4: Thu 25-Sun 28 Aug

    Selected by members of Young at Heart

    Preview Wed 24 Aug 6pm

    Exhibition project 5: Thu 1- Sun 4 Sep

    Selected by Carli Frances and Rosie Carmichael of No Aloha arts collective.

    Preview Wed 31 Aug 6pm

    Exhibition project 6: Thu 8- Sun 11 Sep

    All artworks will be exhibited

    Preview Wed 7 Sep 6pm

    Friday, July 08, 2011

    Museum Barbie

    As someone who coveted bourgeois Barbies during my Soviet childhood (and received one almost immediately upon immigration to the decadent West), and spent many years creating elaborate historically-inspired outfits for my collection of yard-sale and old friends' Barbies (and even was in talks to donate my work to a toy museum), I am VERY excited about this: Museum Barbie! No, she is not a poorly-paid heritage worker, or even a collections volunteer; Barbie in this incarnation is dressed in three outfits inspired by masterpieces by artists like Klimt and Van Gogh. What either of them would have made of it all I shudder to think, but maybe this will raise awareness and love of museums?

    Wednesday, July 06, 2011

    Museums Collections at Risk - an ICRROM Call for Help

    I recently found this questionnaire, from ICRROM and RE-ORG, and perhaps some of you who do work in collections management would be able to help them and fill it in - you could get a year's subscription to UNESCO's Museum International magazine...but it's just nice to help!

    From the Survey Website

    Museum collections are at serious risk!

    An estimated 60% of the world's collections in storage are inaccessible and deteriorating rapidly

    If you work in a museum, take 10 minutes to answer this survey for the chance to win a one-year subscription to UNESCO's MUSEUM International magazine.

    Monday, July 04, 2011

    CFP International Journal of Intangible Heritage

    Call for papers of International Journal of Intangible Heritage

    International Journal of Intangible Heritage seeks to be an inter-communicative and interdisciplinary channel for scholarly research on intangible heritage around the world with respect to its preservation, transmission and promotion. With critical academic articles, provocative viewpoints and reviews, the IJIH, a peer-reviewed academic journal tries to enrich discourses on intangible heritage that reflects the connections between intangible heritage and people. International Journal of Intangible Heritage is an annual-basis publication officially supported by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) with its publication secretariat office in the Cultural Exchange and Education Division, the National Folk Museum of Korea.

    Submission Requirements

    By submitting the paper to IJIH, all authors agree to abide by all IJIH paper submission and publication policies. Namely, authors confirm that the work is original, has not appeared in literature in any form in the past and will not be submitted to any other venue concurrently with IJIH submission or until it appears in IJIH proceedings(in the case of acceptance).
    If a manuscript is based on a lecture, conference paper or talk, specific details should accompany the submission. Furthermore, upon paper acceptance, authors agree to transfer copyright on the selected finalist paper to IJIH.

    ※ Prospective authors are requested to submit the submission form and abstract attached with her/his article. Only papers that submitted with the submission form and abstract are eligible for consideration.
    ※ The paper withdrawals submitted after deadline will be considered to the next volume.

    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:

    Important Date

    Deadline for the IJIH Vol.7: Dec. 15th. 2011

    Categories of contribution

    The Journal welcomes offers of contributions covering all areas of intangible heritage studies and practice.

    (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 proposed.
    (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 Seven in all three categories: main papers, short communications, and news and reviews, on any aspect of research in intangible heritage studies.
    For further information, please refer to ‘Instructions to contributors.

    Contact for Submission

    For manuscript submission contact:Publication SecretariatInternational Journal of Intangible Heritage
    Cultural Exchange & Education Division
    The National Folk Museum of Korea
    37 Samcheong-no, Jongno-gu, Seoul Korea 110-820 Emails: ,
    Tel: +82-(0)2-3704-3101,3122,3123
    Fax: +82-(0)2-3704-3149

    For editorial policy etc. inquiries contact:Editor-in-Chief: Professor Amareswar Galla Email: E-mail:

    For further information and inquiries, please refer to the official webpage of IJIH: