20 June 2018

Engaging 21st Century Researchers, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, 2nd July 2018

A workshop exploring museum engagements with academic and community researchers.
Over the past two years, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge, have been working together to generate new online portals for researchers, as part of Engaging Collections Online, a project funded by the Designated Development Fund, Arts Council England.

As institutions involved in training new generations of researchers, we have tried wherever possible to anticipate the needs of 21st century researchers. We have undertaken user testing and evaluation throughout the project, with both academic and community researchers, in order to understand how to better enable their research.
This workshop will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the online resources we have developed, to share knowledge and experience from the project within the wider museum sector, and to begin a wider conversation about how museums can better engage emerging generations of researchers.
The workshop is scheduled immediately before the University Museums Group 2018 conference Foreign exchange? University museums and international engagement so that delegates can easily attend both events.
The workshop will begin with lunch at 12:30pm, and end with a reception.
We have a number of funded places available for that will cover travel costs and one night of accommodation in Cambridge for attendees from regional museums.
If you are interested in attending the workshop, or in one of the funded places, please send an email outlining your interest to: engagingresearchers@maa.cam.ac.uk

Exhibition, Fabric Africa: Stories told through textiles. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 30 June—19 May 2019

An insight into the forthcoming exhibition by curator Lisa Graves.

The exhibition FabricAfrica: Stories told through textiles has been  over a year in the planning and on June 30th it will open to the public at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.   For me the textiles have always been a window into the huge variety and diversity of countries, people and ways of looking at the world that Africa can offer.   Each item of clothing or individual cloth could tell many stories.  So it was obvious that this exhibition would focus on highlighting rather than being comprehensive and selecting rather than trying to explore everything that this vast subject could offer.

(c) Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

The selection I made was also based on trying to get as wide a geographical range of countries aspossible based on what our collections could offer.  There is a bias towards sub-Saharan countries, and those in West Africa in particular, but in future it would be great to add to our holdings from countries such as Somalia, Egypt or Ethiopia.  We have recently acquired contemporary textiles from Kenya, and for this exhibition have been lucky enough to loan not one, but two wedding dresses from a local, Kenyan- born, designer, Audrey Migot.

Audrey Migot in her wedding dress (c) Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

We made contact with Audrey, along with three other individuals, through a call-out on social media who were happy to share their thoughts on African textiles.  We have recorded their reactions to each of the exhibition themes – Status, Communication, Exchange and Fashion – which you’ll be able to listen to in the gallery.  We hope to encourage more people to share their personal stories around working with, owning, making or wearing textiles from Africa through more social media call-outs on Twitter and Instagram in the coming months.

Throughout the ten months or so the exhibition will be up we have planned a series of events.  These include a practical day school for adults, a children’s Arts Award workshop, as well as one aimed at Brownies, Guides, Cubs and Scouts groups and other family events for Black History Month in October and November.  One of these will be a fashion show showcasing the work of local African and African Diaspora designers and students.  We hope to be running a design competition associated with this event taking inspiration from the pieces in the exhibition as well as from the vibrant contemporary fashion scenes Africa has to offer.

If you wish to profile an exhibition, project or event on the MEG blog then please contact  web@museumethnographersgroup.org.uk

Job Vacancy, Project Curator: Africa, British Museum

The British Museum is looking to recruit a Curator to work on the Africa collections within the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. This is a busy and exciting time for the department internationally as well as within the Museum. During the fixed term allocated the post holder will provide curatorial support to the senior curators in the section in relation to a wide variety of programme activities and collections documentation.

Key areas of responsibility:

• To contribute to up-grading the documentation of the Africa collection, with a focus on record improvement for MI+.
• To support the development of new material for the British Museum website in relation to African collections.
• To assist with managing visits to the collection and enquiries from the public in person, in writing, by telephone and via e-mail.
• To make the collection, and knowledge about it, publicly accessible via publication, digital, display, and broadcast.

Person Specification:

With a BA/BSc degree (or equivalent) in Anthropology or related subject and some knowledge of African material culture and art, you will have experience of research in relation to an area of the African continent and a working knowledge of museum databases and acquisition procedures. In addition, you will have experience working in a curator capacity with an African collection along with some experience of management issues (people, projects, budgets). You will be an open and effective communicator and a team-player. Your work will also have been published in peer reviewed journals.

About the British Museum:

Founded in 1753, the British Museum’s remarkable collection spans over two million years of human history and culture. The Museum is one of the UK’s leading visitor attractions with over six million visitors in 2016 and its world-famous collection includes the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, Egyptian mummies, the Admonitions Scroll, and the Amaravati sculptures.

The Museum adheres to the HMG Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) requirements for all staff at the British Museum.

The Museum is an equal opportunity employer, supports a diverse workplace and offers a competitive benefits package including:

• Membership of the civil service pension scheme
• Free entry to a wide range of museums and exhibitions
• Participation in private and public Museum activities, including talks by leading curators from around the world and behind-the-scenes opportunities to learn how museums care for and manage their extraordinary collections
• Generous annual leave allowance
• Interest-free season ticket loan
• Professional & personal development opportunities
• Employee Assistance Programme
• Discounts on food and gift shop purchases

If you are a positive individual, passionate about the Museum and would like to know more about this exciting opportunity, please follow the “Apply now” link below where you will be directed to complete your application.

Closing date: 25th June 2018, Midday

Further Details

10 May 2018

Job Vacancy: Curator of World Cultures, National Trust

As our national specialist in the curation of world cultures and collections you will lead on the Trust’s response to specific world collections projects. You will also lead on the development of organisational policies and processes relating to the management and interpretation of world collections. Keeping abreast of the latest developments, guiding research and developing best practice, policies and processes relating to world collections, you will use your expertise to provide advice to clients at properties in the Consultancy and Whole Trust. You will lead the Trust’s responses to repatriation requests and contested collections, engaging a wide range of stakeholders through a collaborative process that will ultimately lead to informed, sensitive and appropriate decision-making. You will assist staff across the Trust in identifying innovative ways in which our diverse global collections can inspire visitors and become accessible to all. You will also seek opportunities to demonstrate the Trust’s work in this field, and support its broader strategy to ‘move, teach and inspire’.
PLEASE NOTE: The role will be based from our London or Surrey Hub and will require regular travel to our Head Office in Swindon.
£47,500 pa
Closing Date: 13th May 2018
Interview Date: 7th June 2018 (London)

Call for papers: European Society for Oceanists 2018 Conference

Economists such as Thomas Piketty have influentially argued that inequality has been globally exacerbated in recent decades, and has broad and negative impacts on the environment, human society, governance and well-being. Inspired by Marilyn Strathern’s 1987 edited collection, Dealing with Inequality, and the tradition of ethnographic conceptualisation, contextualisation and critique that that volume exemplified, this conference will address culture, society and history across Oceania, from the vantage point of anthropology’s longstanding commitment to engaging local perspectives and sensitivity to Oceania’s heterogeneity.
The theme of the 12th conference of the European Society for Oceanists encourages participants to discuss these questions by examining concrete empirical realities in the Pacific; by foregrounding local perspectives; and by foregrounding the sheer heterogeneity of culture and society in the Pacific, in diasporic milieux including those across island 'homes'. As at the 11th conference, the convenors encourage contributions ranging beyond Oceania's literal regional limits, to include Pacific presences and interventions in other contexts and regions through diplomacy, travel, migration, tourism, trade, art, museums and performance. 
The conference coincides with the 'Oceania' exhibition at the Royal Academy, the largest exhibition to date responding to art, history and contemporary identity across the region as a whole. The convenors invite artistic interventions that will contribute to a wider dialogue between academia and contemporary practice, and also cross-disciplinary contributions which may range across anthropology, archaeology, art history, development studies, political studies, geography, history, linguistics, and related fields.
Details on sessions and paper submissions can be found here. The deadline for submission is June 29th 2018

9 April 2018

Exhibition: Looted Art? The Benin Bronzes

Exhibition Photograph: Michaela Hille

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG), Germany                          
February 16th 2018
With three bronzes from Benin, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) is opening another chapter of its exhibition series Looted Art? Provenance Research on the Collections of the MKG, an integral part of the visitor’s tour of the museum. MKG has researched the origin story of these three Benin bronzes and also examined the role played by the museum’s founding director, Justus Brinckmann  in trading in such objects. The research results will be published. The bronzes are not considered works of art according to the European understanding of the term. In the culture of their home country, the Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria, the objects function to help lend people an identity. This circumstance demands that they be presented in an appropriate setting, which the MKG is not able to do in the context of its collections. After their exhibition at MKG, the bronzes will therefore be passed on to the Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg. This museum provides with its African collection and its objects from the Benin culture a fitting context for a respectful treatment of these works.

Today there is no question anymore that these bronzes constitute looted art. In early 1897, a British delegation set out for Benin City to demand compliance with a trade agreement. A warning that this was an unfavorable time for a visit due to the Benin cultural rites being celebrated during that season fell on deaf ears. The delegation became embroiled in a skirmish and only a few members survived. In response, the British government launched a “punitive expedition.” The troops took Benin City in February 1897. In the royal palace, they seized bronze reliefs, shrines with bronze objects, and ivory, trading the items locally or bringing them back to London. Justus Brinckmann was the first German museum director to obtain bronzes from Benin and encouraged other museums to follow suit, sparking a brisk trade in these objects via Hamburg. In the port city with its trading companies based in Africa, Brinckmann enjoyed a prime location and acted as an intermediary. Of some 50 bronzes that passed through his hands, only three pieces remained at MKG. The largest contingent became part of the collection of the Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg, and other objects were resold. With the proceeds from these sales, Brinckmann funded the acquisition by MKG of the Relief Panel with Three Dignitaries (1575–1600) and the Relief Panel with a Battle Scene (1600–1625). Museum benefactor Theodor Heye financed the purchase of the Head of an Oba (1600–1625).