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).

5 April 2018

SWICH Conference: Exhibiting Cultures, Exhibiting Empire, Exhibiting Europe

11th July 2018 – 13th July 2018

King's College, University of Cambridge

We inhabit a time not only of global warming but increasing political heat. Across Europe, battles over citizenship, belonging and culture are intensifying. Ethnographic and world cultures museums are in a contradictory situation. On one hand, they are seen as bearers of appropriated heritage and unresolved colonial legacies. On the other hand, such museums are supported because they already connect, or have the potential to connect, diverse postmigrant communities.

This conference builds on the five-year Creative Europe project, Sharing a World of Inclusion, Creativity and Heritage. SWICH has connected museums of ethnography and world cultures across ten countries. A network embracing museum curators and other staff, researchers, artists, activists and community representatives has reflected on what ethnographic museums do and can do, in increasingly conflicted European societies. They have considered in what senses museums can decolonise. Hosted by the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, the conference aims to take these issues from the realm of critique and reflection into that of action.

Presentations and panel discussions will explore recent examples of how museums of world culture are tackling legacies of empire and colonialism and issues of belonging in this landscape of intense debate. Case studies and perspectives from across Europe and beyond, and from across the spectrum of museum practice, including public engagement, exhibition, and collections management, will raise challenges for institutions and stakeholders, and debate ways forward.
Speakers include:
Booking closes on the 20th June 2018. For full details and to book online visit here

15 March 2018

Upcoming Exhibition: Points of View. Visions of a Museum Partnership

University of Zurich
13 March - 28 October 2018
Ethnographic museums find themselves in a period of change, trying to devise new ways of representing different cultures. Furthermore, they need to account for their own history, because many objects in their collections – as well as their museum practices themselves – bear traces of the colonial past. In the process, cooperation between ethnographic museums in the Global North and museums, including other stakeholders, in countries of the South has become increasingly important.
Since 2015 three museums, the Uganda National Museum in Kampala, the Igongo Cultural Centre in Mbarara, southwest Uganda, and the Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich, have undertaken an unusual collaboration: They engage in joint research in Uganda and Switzerland, and in co-creating exhibitions in dialogue.
The subject of this exhibition is the innovative partnership project itself. It addresses the challenges of collaborating at an equal level in a transcontinental project, asking what can, what should, this look like today? You can expect to gain insights into an exciting shift of perspective in museum work. In addition, you get the chance to visit the exhibitions in the Ugandan museums, about milk culture in Uganda and Switzerland digitally. A film about the project links multiple points of views together and documents visions of museum partnership.


12 March 2018

  Re‐imagining the Museum in the Global Contemporary


October 9‐12 2018
CALL FOR PAPERS 
ICOM ICME invites proposals for contributions to our 2018 annual conference, "Re‐ imagining the Museum in the Global Contemporary.” We invite you to join us in Estonia to reflect upon the complex context(s) in which museums exist today, and to creatively examine the range of new and future roles we might productively employ in our respective and interconnected institutions. 
ICME is the international committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) devoted to ethnographic museums and collections from local, national, and/or global cultures and societies. Our annual conference brings together diverse museum scholars and practitioners from across the world. 
It has now been fifteen years since Andrea Witcomb published Re‐imagining the Museum, but her text remains relevant today. Museums are situated in a world of rapidly changing global politics, contested digital technologies, and increasing socio‐economic inequalities. Within this ‘global contemporary,’ we recognize that various ideologies and ethical perspectives greatly influence and impact our work, in regard to understanding collections, designing exhibitions, and various other aspects of museum work. 
As contemporary museum professionals, we may be asked to perform a range of roles that take us out of our traditional comfort zones, as we seek collaborative action across boundaries including: nation, ethnic identity, class, disability, gender and sexual preference. Museums have often ventured into difficult discussions and the engagement of diverse audiences. We might prioritise storytelling and sharing curatorial power so that myriad stories can be told in exhibition spaces, programmes and outreach to attract more diverse audiences. At the same time, such work can be seen as radical change threatening collections care, research and the place of the object in ‘new’ museums devoted to opening dialogue
With our conference, we present the question: Are these various positions mutually exclusive? We offer a space to consider that a ‘both and’ rather than an ‘either/or’ perspective may be possible, moving us beyond binary positions that put ‘progress’ and ‘tradition’ in unhealthy tension.  
We call for papers, panels and workshops (academic, practice‐based or any combination of the two) from colleagues who work on collections, exhibitions, and programming that aims to diversify audiences and reconsider interpretive practice, as well as from colleagues who wish to maintain, implement, and respect the legacies of more traditional practices. Together we hope to find new ways to express who we are to one another and those that visit museums, the actions we might take in the future, and the contributions we might make to the contemporary world of museology. 
We are interested in work that addresses a range of questions that have long concerned ICME, which include but are certainly not limited to: 
How does/can the museum problematize and/or diversify knowledge production?
How do technology and multisensory activities raise/elevate (or curtail) new voices and participatory
venues?
How can knowledge and power be productively shared in museums?
How have we questioned both ‘elite’ orthodoxies and new interpretive theories in productive ways? 

The conference is hosted by Estonian National Museum, in Tartu, Estonia 
Submitting an abstract
We ask that papers (15 minutes) or panel discussion proposals would not exceed 400 words. In addition we also welcome proposals for shorter papers (10 minutes) about current work in the ethnographic museum on the main theme.
The following information should be included with the abstract:
Name(s) of Author(s) Affiliation(s) & full address(es) Title of submitted paper Support equipment required
All submissions must include a 100‐word bio for each presenter. Please send proposals as soon as possible, but no later than 20.04.2018 as a Word Document attachment via email email 
The abstracts will be evaluated by at least two members of the Conference Committee.
Conference Committee:
Dr. Viv Golding (UK), ICOM ICME Chair / University of Leicester, Museum Studies
Dr. Ulf Dahre (Sweden), ICOM ICME Treasurer / Lund University, Social Anthropology
Dr. Pille Runnel (Estonia) / Estonian National Museum, Research Director 
Sylvia Wackernagel (Germany), ICOM ICME Secretary / Silesian Museum 
Mario Buletić (Croatia), ICOM ICME Webmaster / Ethnographic Museum of Istria
Brittany Lauren Wheeler (USA), ICOM ICME Conferences / PhD candidate, Clark University, Boston 
Agnes Aljas (Estonia), ICOM ICME Board member / Estonian National Museum, Research Secretary

Tibetan Monastery Collections and Museums: Traditional Practices and Contemporary Issues

We are delighted to announce our international workshop on "Tibetan Monastery Collections and Museums: Traditional Practices and Contemporary Issues", which will take place from 8th–10th November 2018 at SOAS, University of London. The workshop is organised by Dr Christian Luczanits, Dr Louise Tythacott and Dr. Chiara Bellini.

Potential participants are invited to submit an abstract (max. 300 words) by 31 May 2018 to Chiara Bellini Please include your name, title, affiliation, e-mail address, and the title of the panel to which you would like to contribute.

Applicants will be notified by 15 June 2018.


Job Vacancy: Curator of World Culture, Leeds Museums and Galleries

Salary details: SO2 - £28,485 to £30,153
Ref: 17383    
Application deadline: 31 March 2018 11:30 PM

Leeds Museums and Galleries seek to appoint a curator with a specialism in World Cultures.
Leeds Museums and Galleries has over 12,000 items in its World Cultures collection, making it the largest centre for this collection focus in Yorkshire. The collection is wide-ranging with Asia best represented (particularly China and India), then Africa, followed by the Americas, Oceania and lastly Europe outside the UK. It is our aim to represent global world cultures of the present day through our collections, to recognise the importance and significance of the diaspora and migrant communities in the life of our city and to continue to explore historical anthropology through material artefacts. 
A key part of the role is working with communities in Leeds in the display and development of the collection, so we’re looking for someone who can bring subject specialist knowledge, but also the ability to build relationships, reaching out across the city to work collaboratively. Based at Leeds Discovery Centre, but working across Leeds Museums and Galleries sites, the postholder will work with colleagues across the service to maximise the impact of our collections and the experience of our audiences. 
Given the wide-ranging nature of this collection, you may have a background in Anthropology, Cultural studies, International studies, World Art or other similar subject areas.


Himalayan Fashion will astound you with its variety and colour! Don’t miss this stunning new exhibition of fashion and textiles in a unique country house setting. Discover sumptuous silk brocades, geometric dhaka cotton weaves, fine Kashmir wool shawls and rainbows of printed prayer flags. 

See the whole range of fashion from costly court outfits and high end designer dresses to everyday wear and clothing worn by everyone from Buddhist monks to Gurkhas.
Leeds has a great range of costume from Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, thanks to the purchases made by former curator, Veronica Johnston, who travelled in the region in the late 1980s and 1990s. Now we have teamed up with National Museums Liverpool, Leeds Nepalese Community and Harewood House to create this unique chance to learn about the role of fashion and textiles in Himalayan cultures. National Museums Liverpool are lending sumptuous official dress from the 1920s and a Bhutan stag mask from before 1914. Leeds Nepalese Community has lent contemporary best dress and David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, is lending two masks and costume elements from Bhutan, from the inauguration of the Harewood Buddhist stupa in 2005. 

A Himalayan family fun day is being planned for late June and a seminar day for 10 September. 


Free with admission to Lotherton

6 March 2018

UNIVERSITY OBJECTS’ JOURNEYS: From the stores to sharing with different user communities  

UNIVERSEUM 2018 pre-conference training workshop
University of Glasgow, 11-13 June 2018
Hunterian Collections Study Centre at Kelvin Hall

(The main UNIVERSEUM conference takes place 13-15 June 2018)

Deadline for applications: 10 March 2018

Universeum is pleased to announce its 2nd Training Workshop in collaboration with The Hunterian, at the University of Glasgow (Scotland). The workshop is aimed at Universeum members, either individual or institutional, and is open to anyone interested in becoming a Universeum member (for details on membership, see the Universeum website) who wish to develop their skills and knowledge in managing, documenting, interpreting, and disseminating university collections. The workshop is linked to Universeum’s annual conference which will take place from 13-15 June at the University of Glasgow.
University collections are diverse and range from scientific instruments to anatomical specimens, from maps to drawings, from manuscripts to plaster casts, to mention only a few. The workshop will make use of The Hunterian’s diverse and rich encyclopaedic collections of over 1.5 million objects, but will also encourage participants to bring to the discussions the issues and ideas that relate to their own collections from their institutions across Europe. The diversity of university collections and the complex associations that they bring, present significant challenges to the professionals and scholars studying, managing, and communicating them to diverse users. 
The workshop sessions will be co-ordinated by cultural heritage professionals and academics from the University of Glasgow and The Hunterian, as well as by the broader Universeum network working on collections management, provenance, accessioning and de-accessioning, conservation, cultural heritage trafficking, interpretation using analogue and digital media, storytelling, and student engagement. Workshop participants will be actively involved in a variety of hands-on, interdisciplinary, group-based, and discussion sessions, rather than passively listening to traditional lecture-style presentations.
The workshop aims at demystifying and deconstructing the various processes that take place once an object enters a university collection. Participants will engage directly with objects and collections at the state-of-the-art recently renovated Hunterian Collection Study Centre at the historic and iconic Kelvin Hall building and engage in a dialogue with curators, museum directors, conservators, collection managers, educators, university lecturers and researchers. The workshop will include a combination of group and individual work.
Participants will be expected to work on a short presentation of the key issues that arose from the workshop (during the third day with access to computers and printing facilities provided at Kelvin Hall) to present at session during the main conference, so will be expected to stay in Glasgow for the whole week (11-15 June 2018) during which the workshop and conference will take place.
Workshop topics covered
Day 1: Building and managing collections: Object-based learning; Accessioning and De-accessioning objects; Objects’ provenance; Trafficking of antiquities and cultural property
Day 2 – Communicating and sharing collections: Working internationally and collaboratively in exhibitions; exhibition planning and curating; student engagement and museum education; digital interpretation
Day 3 am (half day) Preparation for presentation for main conference based on workshop experience and discussions
Who is it for? The workshop is aimed mainly at early career professionals working in university museums, archives, libraries, special collections, PhD students and early career researchers working with/on university collections
Registration fee: There is no fee for attending the workshop
Other costs: Lunch and coffee/tea during the day will be provided by Universeum. Participants, or their organisations, will be expected to cover their own travel and accommodation. Information and suggestions for these are provided on the Universeum2018 website. An optional evening meal will be organised for the first evening, 11 June 2018 to be paid by the participants who sign up for it
Maximum number of participants: To allow for hands-on and behind-the-scenes sessions and work in small groups, the workshop is limited to 16 participants
Grants: The Universeum Board is able to offer 5 travel grants of 500 euros each (250 euros for participants based in the UK) to cover travel within Europe and accommodation
Workshop dates: 11-13 June 2018, 2.5 days (before the main Universeum main conference which will take place 13-15 June. Post-conference study trips to Scottish university collections outside Glasgow will take place 16-17 June (more details about these will be provided at the Universeum2018 website nearer the time). Workshop participants are expected to attend also the main Universeum conference
Venue: Hunterian Collections Study Centre at Kelvin Hall, 1445 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8AW
Eligibility
·         Workshop participants should have paid the Universeum annual membership fee, either institutional or individual, for 2018 (so check if your institution is already a member). If you are interested in becoming a member, please check the membership section of the Universeum websites 
·         Participants should be researching or working with a University collection, museum, archive, or library (either as part of their work or PhD or post-doctoral studies/research) at the time the workshop will take place
·         Participants should be fluent in spoken and written English
Overall selection of applicants will take into account gender balance, as well as the diversity of their backgrounds, age, country, and museum/collection(s).
Participants should be prepared to do preparatory work before and during the workshop (e.g. readings and assignments), participate in its evaluation, and prepare a presentation for the main conference.
Application process: Applications should include:
1.      Completed application form (download from)
2.      A letter of motivation from the applicant explaining why they wish to participate and what they expect to gain from the workshop (1 A4 page)
3.      A short CV (up to 1 A4 page) indicating studies, training, work experience, publications, and current work responsibilities
Applications should be sent by email to Universeum2018@glasgow.ac.uk with the title: “application for Universeum pre-conference workshop 2018” before 10th March 2018.
Contact: If you have any questions about the workshop, please send an email to Universeum2018@glasgow.ac.uk

27 February 2018

BBC Civilisations Festival 'Museums and the materialisation of refusal'

Wayne Modest, Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde and Africa Museum, Netherlands, responds to issues related to exhibiting experiences of empires, with reference to what he refers to as the 'materialisation of refusal'.

Friday 9 March 2018,
18.30–19.30 BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum


To book a ticket visit the website

24 January 2018

Representing Africa in British Museums

Friday 8 June 2018, 10.15am to 5pm  Ticketed but free
Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter

Objects from the African continent were initially acquired by traders, political officers, explorers, scholars, and missionaries. How well does this material represent Africa? 
This question will be explored in a series of multi-disciplinary talks, presented by internationally-renowned curators and academics of African collections in Britain.

Planned presentations:
Exploring donors, uncovering collections, and transforming displays: the Africa collection at RAMM
Mr Tony Eccles (Curator of Ethnography, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter)
Representing (South) Africa in the British Museum: the art of many nations
Dr John Giblin (Head of Africa Section, Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, British Museum)
Representing African Islam in British Museums
Professor Timothy Insoll (Al-Qasimi Chair in African and Islamic Archaeology, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter)
Rearrangements and Reevaluations of the African Collection at Liverpool’s World Museum, 1895 to 2018
Dr Zachary Kingdon (Curator, Africa Collections, World Museum, Liverpool)
Kente Trade: African Choices and British Museums
Dr Malika Kraamer (Independent Curator and Researcher)
The Rehabilitation of the Fetish
Professor John Mack (The Sainsbury Research Unit, Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, University of East Anglia)
Manchester Museum’s Cross Disciplinary Approach to Representing Africa
Mr Stephen Welsh and Dr Campbell Price (Curators of Living Cultures and Egypt and Sudan, The Manchester Museum, University of Manchester)
African Collections in the National Museum of Scotland
Dr Sarah Worden (Senior Curator, African collections, Department of World cultures, National Museums Scotland)
Putting the ethnography back into ethnography galleries: Redisplaying African collections in the new World gallery at the Horniman
Dr Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp (Curator of Anthropology, Horniman Museum, London)


Book tickets here 

23 January 2018

Book Review: The Conservation of featherwork by Ellen Pearlstein


Figure:  Huichol hat, Fowler Museum at UCLA, X66.2858, 34 cm x 18 cm
Featherwork from Central and South America rank among the most beautiful objects with meaning and symbolic value, used and worn as signs of rank and respect. Collection history, consultations and anthropological studies contribute greatly to our understanding of such featherwork collections in museums. However, museum or online databases often provide insufficient information for researchers e.g. on feather identification, feather type, attachment and modification methods and whether those objects show traces of use or change in cultural practice. Recording featherwork in a concise manner will not only provide information for interpretation but also for representation of the object on display. It will advise on conservation treatment and will assist on collection decisions designed to further preventive care.

'The Conservation of Featherwork' is designed to guide museum specialists like conservators, curators and researchers through implementation of such recordings. It is a valuable resource for teaching conservation students and those interested in material culture. The content of the book reflects on the interdisciplinary research approach by the author, bringing together knowledge of ornithologists, tribal featherworkers, curators, conservators and conservation scientists.

The introduction of the book by Judith Levinson (Director of Conservation, Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History) highlights the advantages of documenting featherwork as proposed in this publication and in particular its potential to link technical, material based and intangible qualities.

Ellen Pearlstein (Professor for Information Studies and in the Conservation of Ethnographic and Archaeological Materials atUCLA) offers concise and condensed information on feather recordings, preventive care, conservation treatment methods and legal aspects related to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). For further studies, the main literature on the subject is listed for the interested reader. The author developed a protocol for examining featherwork, a feather identification and condition template, which can be copied from the book and utilized as part of a survey.
Six case studies that follow the template, provide a comprehensive technical study, feather analysis, and examples of a conservation treatment and housing. The case studies carried out by conservation students, focus on headdresses, which entered the collection of the Fowler museum (Los Angeles) as gifts from private collectors:A lori-lori headdress made by the Karajá people from Brazil (Betsy Burr) and a Karajá skirt worn during initiation ceremonies (Heather White), a Huichol basketry hat from Mexico (Tom McClintock), a Shapra headdress attributed to the Shuar people of Peru (Lesley Day), an archeological feather plume (William Shelley) and a headdress made by the Asháninka (Colette Badmagharian), both from Peru.

Each case study, well structured and lavishly illustrated, demonstrates instantaniously the benefit of such recordings. The book can be highly recommended for museum specialists but also for those passionate about featherwork.

Renée Riedler
Mag. phil. Mag. art
Objects Conservator, Preventive Conservation Specialist
Lecturer in Conservation at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna