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.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

“There is but a straight path”

The autobiography of Wafaa El Saddik
Wafaa El Saddik  © privat
It was the 28th of January, 2011, the „Day of Rage“, when Wafaa El Saddik, the former director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, decided to write this book. She had retired only few weeks ago and had been asked by Suzanne Mubarak herself to be at the head of the new children’s museum in Heliopolis. El Saddik had been stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. On the one hand she had been committed in providing museum education for Egypt children for more than twenty years; on the other hand she had been reluctant to work again for the regime. On this day she suddenly knew that she could not head a museum “founded by people who torture and beat young people to death”, how she writes. Instead, she decided “to open the drawers” and to write about her experiences reflecting what had changed in her country since her childhood and “since when they had been on the wrong track”. 
Reading her autobiography can be a true inspiration for people working and studying in the museum field. Very seldom you can find personal reports of museum scholars and thus following El Saddik’s career, step by step, is informative and exciting. Besides this it is her perspective as an Egyptian archaeologist which turns the read into a rewarding endeavour. She describes how she had to fight for being taken seriously working on sites in her own country by colleagues coming from abroad. Or how she was confronted, travelling, with Egypt masterpieces in museums in the USA or England, being aware of the sometimes difficult acquisition histories. But what make this book relevant are the descriptions how she tried to stay on the “straight path” in a controversial political system, when to compromise, when to disagree.

These questions became burning issues when she returned to Egypt after having lived for many years in Germany, and even more in 2004 when she was asked to head the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. She decided to accept the dare and entered a field which she depicts as characterised by corruption and mismanagement. In spite of these adverse conditions she succeeded in introducing innovations like the “Children’s Museum of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo” in 2010. Today she is concerned mainly about the destruction and pillage of the cultural heritage in her country and tries to spread the message how important it is to keep in sight the origins of one’s culture.

The book is published yet only in German.  
Wafaa el Saddik (with Rüdiger Heimlich), Es gibt nur den geraden Weg, Mein Leben als Schatzhüterin Ägyptens, Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2013.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Call for articles for Museums and Social Issues Journal

Museums and Social Issues: A Journal of Reflective Discourse

Deadline for article submissions: November 1, 2013 and April 21, 2014

Museums & Social Issues welcomes the submission of original articles on
the interaction between social issues and the way that museums respond to,
influence, or become engaged with them. Topics should address questions
and issues that are pervasive, long standing, critical, and not easily
solved. Submissions may include a history of the issue, critical
questions, philosophical reflections, theoretical positions, examples of
exhibits, programs or initiatives that have addressed issue, and a review
or bibliography of pertinent books, websites, exhibits and other
resources. All manuscripts are subject to anonymous peer review by
knowledgeable scholars and professional
practitioners, and if accepted may be subject to revision.

Materials submitted to the journal should not be under consideration by
other publishers, nor should they be previously published in any form. All
article submissions will be sent to independent referees. It is a
condition of publication that on acceptance of the paper by the journal
Editor that copyright must be assigned to W. S. Maney & Son, Ltd. All
submissions should be sent to Elee Wood, Director, Museum Studies Program,
IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Phone (317) 274-7332, email: Authors wishing to correspond directly with the Editor are
also welcome to do so via email:

Articles should not normally exceed 10,000 words in length. In preparing
the electronic version, there is no need to format articles. Use a single
(not double) space after the full point at the end of sentences. Please
use plain style and avoid elaborate layout or typography, but include
italics or bold type when necessary, and make sure that headings and
subheadings are clearly visible as such. Words should not be hyphenated at
the end of a line. Consistency in spacing, punctuation, and spelling will
be of help. References and captions should be placed at the end of the
file. Submission should include a cover letter, an original manuscript,
and copies of any illustrations. Articles must also be accompanied by a
short abstract (c. 100-150 words) summarizing the contents of their paper.
Articles should also be accompanied by up to 6 key words to aid
searchability of the article online. Any acknowledgements should be placed
at the end of the article, before any Notes.

EXHIBITION REVIEWS explore the ways in which institutions approach social
matters through exhibition topics and exhibition strategies. The journal
publishes 1,000- to 1,500-word reviews of recent exhibitions mounted
around the world. Potential authors may examine exhibitions that have
social issues as a stated emphasis, or they may evaluate exhibitions
dedicated to other topics by using a critical lens focused on the social
issues that the exhibition implicitly raises. Exhibition reviews should
include the title of the reviewed exhibition, its host institution, and
exhibition dates. (When applicable include this information as well for
known sites to which the exhibition has traveled or will travel.)

BOOK REVIEWS reflect on or inform how museums and other cultural
institutions are addressing, or might address, social
issues. Submissions should be from 1,000 to 1,500 words in length.
Personal reflections are welcome, but the reviewed material¹s usefulness
to professionals in the museum field is imperative. MSI will reject
submissions from authors, publishers, and others who stand to gain from
favorable reviews. Book reviews should include publication title, author,
publisher, ISBN number, number of pages. All reviews should include the
author¹s name, affiliation, and contact information.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Fellowships Available in USA 2014-2015

Winterthur, a public museum, library, and garden supporting the advanced
study of American art, culture, and history, announces its Research
Fellowship Program for 2014–15. Winterthur offers an extensive program of
short- and long-term fellowships open to academic, independent, and museum
scholars, including advanced graduate students, to support research in
material culture, architecture, decorative arts, design, consumer culture,
garden and landscape studies, Shaker studies, travel and tourism, the
Atlantic World, childhood, literary culture, and many other areas of social
and cultural history. Fellowships include 4–9 month NEH fellowships, 1–2
semester dissertation fellowships, and 1–2 month short-term fellowships.

Fellows have full access to the library collections, including more than
87,000 volumes and one-half million manuscripts and images, searchable
online at Resources for the 17th to the early 20th
centuries include period trade catalogues, auction and exhibition
catalogues, an extensive reference photograph collection of decorative
arts, printed books, and ephemera. Fellows may conduct object-based
research in the museum’s collections, which include 90,000 artifacts and
works of art made or used in America to 1860, with a strong emphasis on
domestic life. Winterthur also supports a program of scholarly
publications, including Winterthur Portfolio: A Journal of American
Material Culture.

Fellows may reside in a furnished stone farmhouse on the Winterthur grounds
and participate in the lively scholarly community at Winterthur, the nearby
Hagley Museum and Library, the University of Delaware, and other area
museums. Fellowship applications are due January 15, 2014. For more details
and to apply, visit or e-mail Rosemary Krill at


The Wolfsonian–Florida International University is a museum and research
center that promotes the examination of modern visual and material culture.
The focus of the Wolfsonian collection is on North American and European
decorative arts, propaganda, architecture, and industrial and graphic
design from the period 1885-1945. The United States, Great Britain,
Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands are the countries most extensively
represented. There are also smaller but significant collections of
materials from a number of other countries, including Austria,
Czechoslovakia, France, Japan, the former Soviet Union and Hungary. The
collection includes works on paper (including posters, prints and design
drawings), furniture, paintings, sculpture, glass, textiles, ceramics,
lighting and other appliances, and many other kinds of objects. The
Wolfsonian’s library has approximately 50,000 rare books, periodicals, and
ephemeral items.

Fellowships are intended to support full-time research, generally for a
period of three to five weeks. The program is open to holders of master’s
or doctoral degrees, Ph.D. candidates, and to others who have a significant
record of professional achievement in relevant fields. Applicants are
encouraged to discuss their project with the Fellowship Coordinator prior
to submission to ensure the relevance of their proposals to the
Wolfsonian’s collection.

The application deadline is December 31, for residency during the 2014-2015
academic years.

For information, please contact:
Fellowship Coordinator
The Wolfsonian-FIU
1001 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
305-535-2613 (phone)
305-531-2133 (fax)