6 December 2011

CfP: Cultures of Curating: Curatorial Practices and the Production of Meaning c. 1650-2000

The 2012 conference of the Museums and Galleries History Group, to be held at the University of Lincoln 12-13 July 2012

Call for papers

While museum history now acknowledges the constructed nature of the museum narrative, and maintains that museum work such as cataloguing, conserving and displaying is not neutral, but actually produces meaning, relatively little work has examined the ways in which curatorial practices have developed, and the specific consequences for museums. Display has attracted most of the work that has been done, but ‘behind the scenes’ activities have not been investigated in such depth. We seek submissions which investigate any aspect of the developing work of the curator, from creating an acquisitions policy, to labelling and documentation, to publicity work, as we wish to explore curating as both craft and profession. We also invite contributors to consider how curatorial practices constituted the museum object, and attempted to produce or suppress certain meanings for museum objects; and how such practices formed particular relationships between curators and other museum figures such as donors and visitors. We are interested in submissions which consider a wide variety of periods and places, and all types of curating, from fine art to science.

Confirmed keynote speaker: Dr Sam Alberti, Director, Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons.

We invite papers on themes such as:

How curators were trained, and how they understood their role

Cataloguing and museum documentation

Acquisition – the role of the curator

Conservation and storage

Display and interpretation

How and why curatorial practices changed

The role of place and space in shaping curatorial practices

Curatorial practices, disciplines and discourses of knowledge

Curatorial practices and relationships with the wider public

We also invite session proposals. Session proposals should include a brief outline of the session (250 words) as well as three abstracts (300 words max. each) for the proposed session. For session proposals, please indicate who will chair the session.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to chair@mghg.org or Kate Hill (khill@lincoln.ac.uk)

Closing date for proposals: 1 February 2012

(Please note, all those attending and giving papers will need to pay the registration fee)

1 December 2011

Symposium: Cultures of Decolonisation, c.1945-1970

Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, Senate House
Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Sketch for proposed British Guiana court, Commonwealth Institute. James Gardner, c. 1961. Design Archives, University of Brighton

Keynote Speaker: Dr Bill Schwarz, Queen Mary, University of London

This symposium will bring together scholars with an interest in the cultural practices, performances and material cultures of decolonisation, c.1945-1970.

While the problems of ‘empire’ and ‘the postcolonial’ have come under increasing scrutiny in the humanities and social sciences in recent years, and debate about the political and economic processes of decolonisation is well established, the cultural sites, spaces and social practices of this process in the middle years of the twentieth century have often been overlooked.

Yet new scholarship is beginning to point to the attention that the literary, visual and built environment paid to political, economic and social change in this period. In addition, the roles of individuals and institutions in cultural practices and performances of decolonisation are now drawing critical attention from a variety of fields. This symposium will bring together scholars from history, art and design history, cultural geography, literature, museum studies, architecture and other cultural fields to further explore these topics with regard to decolonisation between 1945 and 1970.

We invite contributions which examine aspects of cultural engagements with decolonisation. Papers may consider the peoples, sites, materials and practices of emerging and newly independent nations, as well as the processes of decolonisation as enacted in Europe. This event will lend new insights into debates about the contested nature of decolonisation, and into the impact of cultural practices on socio-political processes.

Entrance Hall, the Royal Commonwealth Society, 1959 RCS II (e) 6 http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/deptserv/rcs/modernCommonwealth/
Papers might focus on:

Cultural institutions and their reactions to and engagements with decolonisation
Amateurs, professionals and enthusiasts in decolonisation
Imperial knowledges, materials and collections, and their place in a decolonising world
Specific media as arenas for political exchange
Cultural sites of independence and decolonisation
Visual and performance cultures of decolonisation
Decolonising lives
Networks of decolonisation

Please send abstracts of 250 words or expressions of interest to Dr Ruth Craggs, St Mary’s University College (craggsr@smuc.ac.uk) and Dr Claire Wintle, University of Brighton (c.wintle@brighton.ac.uk) by 30 January 2012.

Symposium Website:

Supported by the Institute for Commonwealth Studies, University of London; School of Humanities, University of Brighton, and St Mary’s University College.

16 November 2011

Research Project: Artefacts of Encounter

Artefacts of Encounter, a UK-based research project sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), is now half-way through its 3-year duration.

The project, led by Nicholas Thomas and Amiria Salmond and hosted by the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, examines the legacy of early European voyages into Polynesia (1765-1840), focusing on collections of Pacific artefacts as primary evidence of these cross-cultural encounters and ensuing transformations.

Study visits have already been carried out to document and study relevant material in UK, French, German, Estonian, Russian and other European collections, and more trips are planned for 2012, to Norway, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, the US and New Zealand. 

Research findings are being incorporated into KIWA, a closed-access internet-based platform for collaborative collections-based research. We would be delighted to hear from researchers with a specialist interest in Polynesian material culture who would be interested in joining us as Affiliated Researchers (our current expanded team includes Anne Salmond, Jenny Newell, Patricia Wallace, Deidre Brown and Wonu Veys).

We would also be pleased to hear from museum curators responsible for Polynesian material and whose institution wishes to collaborate with project research.

A workshop will be held next year to present preliminary findings and to showcase the digital aspect of our work.

Please visit our website http://maa.cam.ac.uk/aofe/ for more information about the project, including news of our latest discoveries!

15 November 2011

The William Fagg Lecture 2011

BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum
Friday 9th December 2011
Nicholas Thomas
Professor of Historical Anthropology, and Director Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge

Following the voyages of Captain Cook, an extraordinary range of encounters took place in the islands of the Pacific. While the European intrusion was notoriously destructive, commerce and empire enabled Islanders to travel and interact in new ways. This lecture traces Pacific experiences of empire through the lens of some of the great and innovative art works of the nineteenth century, including objects in the collections of the British Museum.

The lecture will be followed by a reception

28 October 2011

Review: Objects of Religion

By Sue Giles
Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives

Whatever one’s view of religion or relics, the exhibition Treasures of Heaven: saints, relics and devotion in medieval Europe at the British Museum was a feast of extraordinary art and craft from the middle ages, from Rome via 10th century Byzantium to 15th century France. It included stunning Limoges enamel reliquary boxes and gold and silver reliquary statues. Looking at the objects was one thing, watching the visitors another.

A man I thought was cleaning sticky marks off the glass of one case was, I realised, making the sign of the cross repeatedly – possibly with his mobile ‘phone in his hand - was he filming his actions? A woman came up to the same case and held her hand flat on the glass, channelling the relic. Near another case, I was aware that standing behind me were a man saying his rosary and a woman whispering prayers. 

Alas, no one else can go and watch the visitors – I visited on the last afternoon of the exhibition and the relics have been returned to their respective museums and churches. For me, the exhibition raised questions of belief  – why do people believe that someone thought to save the Virgin Mary’s breast milk all those centuries ago? If all the pieces of the true cross were put together, how big would the cross be? Was it faith that created relics, or economic and political need?

The Kandy Temple elephant carrying the Tooth relic,
full moon, August 2007
That said, the exhibition also made me think about why and how different religions come up with similar practices and ideas. Several of the reliquaries contained the toothes of saints. These relic would have been wrapped and placed in a reliquary casket, to be carried in procession under a panoply. 

During the Kandy perahera in Sri Lanka, the Temple of the Tooth is represented in the parade of the four Kandy temples, processing around the town every night for a month. On a few nights, the Tooth relic actually carried on the back of an elephant, wrapped in a reliquary box, and paraded under a panoply held up on poles by six men. Other nights the elephant parades with an empty palanquin. 

On most nights people just watch the elephant pass by. When he carries the Tooth relic, they stand and bow.... 

Religion must be the new black – as Treasures of Heaven closed, Infinitas Gracias: Mexican miracle paintings opened at the Wellcome Collection. This is another fascinating exhibition about religious belief, showing over 100 examples of Mexican votive paintings – created to record of an event where the dedicatee believed that only the intervention of Jesus, Mary or a saint had saved them or their family from death by cancer, amputation, bandits, drowning, electrocution, car crashes, heart attacks....

The small paintings on tinplate are in a naive style. In some, the space is full with the scene of the accident, the saint and the dedication, in others the rectangular ‘canvas’ is very empty – perhaps a huge room with a chequered floor, a small bed in one corner and the saint hovering in another.

The paintings are arranged as art works in a single line around the walls of the gallery – but at the entrance a display of reproductions shows how they would be seen by the faithful, with hundreds nailed up cheek by jowl to cover the walls of the church.

One wall in the exhibition holds a collection of contemporary ex-votos from the church of Real de Catorce, an old silver mining community. People rarely commission a painting now, but anyone can pin up a prayer or a photograph, a child’s baby-grow or a wedding dress, all dedicated to St Anthony as thanks for anything from getting a job to falling pregnant or recovering from illness.

A Sacred Heart milagro or ex-voto offering, 
purchased Mexico City, 1991 
Anyone can present a milagro or little silver or brass pendant of what they need help with, be it their eyesight, their dog or their car, and at the church of Real de Catorce these are used to create decorate the walls.
Visitors to these exhibitions fall into different camps: those who believe in the power of the things on display, those with faith but not in Catholicism, and those who see the objects as art, and wonder why people believe a saint would hear their prayer and help them.

Alongside Infinatas Gracias at the Wellcome is another exhibition, Charmed Life: the solace of objects, an artist’s interpretation of a collection of amulets made by the Edwardian folklorist Edward Lovett. The juxtaposition of votive offerings from Mexico with fabric-covered horseshoes to protect against nightmares and coral hands to ward off the evil eye is an interesting one – in both cases the objects seem to be created by belief.

Treasures of Heaven has closed, but Infinitas Gracias and Charmed Life at the Wellcome Collection are open until 26 February 

18 October 2011

Conference: Cultural Equalities Now

Friday 9 December 09.00–17.00
Stevenson Lecture Theatre, British Museum

Where next for equalities and diversity in the culture and arts sectors?

The policy and funding landscape has changed dramatically in recent times and the full implications of this are still not yet clear for the culture and arts sectors.

This conference is for practitioners, policy makers and researchers interested in diversity in the cultural sector. The talks will focus on keeping the access and diversity agenda alive as budgets shrink, who funds and supports this work now, the opportunities and threats of the Big Society and Localism, the effect of the new Equalities Act on different organisations, and changing approaches to inclusion in the sector. 

£45 first 40 tickets
£55 standard price
Conference fees have been subsidised by the British Museum to help you attend.
For more information

13 October 2011

Job: BM Keeper of Africa, Oceania and the Americas

The British Museum is seeking a specialist of academic distinction to lead and manage the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas.

They will be responsible for the curation of the Museum’s comprehensive collection of artefacts and pictorial and archival collections from Africa, Oceania and the America.

They will direct the department’s curatorial and academic work, including research and overseas fieldwork and excavations, ensuring the maintenance of a high level of service to the public. They will be responsible for the management of the department’s staff and play a leading role in maintaining and developing links with appropriate peer academic institutions nationally and internationally, and especially with significant groups and bodies in relevant countries.

A recognised authority in a relevant field,they will have experience at a senior level in a museum, university or similar institution. They will have the ability to manage and inspire the department, to participate widely in the Museum’s affairs and to undertake a representational role both in the UK and abroad.
For more information see:  http://tinyurl.com/44s8nvl

Closing Date: Noon on Friday 28th October 2011
Salary: £57,902-74902 per annum
Contract: Permanent / Fixed Term (Full time)
If you have any queries regarding this role, please email bm@penna.com or call 0845 601 1124. Please quote the job reference number in the subject line of any email and at the beginning of a call.

5 October 2011

Job: Research Assistant (Fixed-term)

Research Assistant (fixed-term)
Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Library

Salary: £29,972 to £35,788 per annum

Following a recent funding award from the Leverhulme Trust, Phase Four of the Carmichael Watson Project aims to research the material culture and collecting practices of the Hebridean folklorist and collector Alexander Carmichael (1832–1912), and to catalogue and contextualise the objects, field monuments and sites collected or described by him.

We require an experienced post-doctoral researcher with proven ethnographic, object-based, linguistic, and research skills to play a key role in the Carmichael Watson Project team. You will identify, investigate, classify and contextualise objects collected by Alexander Carmichael, disseminate project findings, and assist with overall project delivery and resource development.

You will have a PhD in one of the following fields relating to Scottish Gaelic/Irish: folklore, ethnology, literature, history or museum studies. You should be fluent in Gaelic, or fluent in Irish with some knowledge of Scottish Gaelic and willingness to augment that knowledge. Highly developed organisational and problem-solving abilities are a requirement, as are ICT skills, and excellent interpersonal and communication skills.   

The post is fixed-term for eighteen months and is available from 3 October 2011.

Vacancy Reference: 3014922

Closing date: Monday 24 October 2011

For further details and instructions on how to apply please visit http://www.jobs.ed.ac.uk/ quoting the above vacancy reference number.

The Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grants Programme

New Art Fund grants programme - 

£50,000 p.a. for curatorial development

The programme has been created to help curators working with fine and applied art collections maintain and develop their specialist knowledge and expertise. £50,000 will be available annually for grants to help meet the costs of, for example:

·         Travel and accommodation
·         Training courses/programmes of study
·         Books and subscriptions to add to a museum’s research resources or library
·         Translation, transcription and other similar services
·         Temporary administrative cover to enable time away from work to undertake research.

In order to allow the programme to meet its goals, it is important that as many as possible of the organisations which might benefit from it are made aware of its existence and of the new funds available to support their curators. Further information relating to the programme, including details of grant amounts, eligibility and how to apply, can be found at the following address: http://www.artfund.org/grants/the-jonathan-ruffer-curatorial-grants-programme

27 September 2011

CALL FOR PAPERS: What′s cooking? Food and eating at home

The Histories of Home Subject Specialist Network (SSN) is inviting papers for the Fourth Annual SSN Conference 'What`s cooking? Food and eating at home' to be held at the Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London on Friday 9 March 2012.

There has been growing academic interest in the study of food, cooking and culinary history since the early 1990s, from the production and exchange of food on a global scale to its preparation and consumption on an individual level. This conference will focus on food within the domestic setting by charting changes in foodspaces over time, examining the politics of foodwork and investigating patterns of food consumption at home. Given the wealth of material available on the themes of food, memory and diaspora, the conference will have a UK-based geographical focus, which may include migrant food journeys centred around UK experiences.


We invite proposals for 25 minute papers on the following themes:
- patterns and negotiation of foodwork at home
- food as a marker of continuity and change within family life
- the changing meanings of objects involved in preparing and serving meals
- gendered division of labour in foodwork
- transmission of culinary skills
- changes in foodspaces over time and their influence on how and where people cook and eat
Food pathways / food journeys
- including kitchen gardens, box schemes, food parcels and recycling
Cooking and identity
- cooking as expression of self-identity
- food and socio-economic status
Sharing food
- family meals and "proper meals"
- everyday feeding and eating habits
- feasts and celebrations at home
- hospitality and home entertaining
- the role of ritual and religion in food practices
Food idea(l)s
- including household manuals, changing table manners, food norms, healthy diets and eating disorders, the relationship between practice and aspiration, food as moral choice
Representations of food activities at home
- blogging, advertising, film, government propaganda, TV `foodporn`

Building on the tradition of previous SSN events, the Conference programme will include historical and contemporary papers from a wide range of disciplines. We are equally keen to encourage submissions from:
- academics and researchers;
- museum professionals who care for, interpret and use kitchens/culinary collections within historic house museums;
- archivists responsible for cookery book and household manual collections, and
- experimental archaeologists investigating food and cooking

Please submit proposals, including title, abstract (of 200-300 words) and a brief biographical statement (c.100 words) by Monday 14 November 2011 to:

Krisztina Lackoi, SSN Co-ordinator, klackoi@geffrye-museum.org.uk
The Geffrye Museum of the Home, Kingsland Road, London, E2 8EA

Participants will be notified of acceptance by early December 2011.

26 September 2011

Seminar: ‘Conservation and Source Communities: Research, Objects and Treatments’

Wednesday November 16th, 2011
The Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

Join the ICON Ethnography Group for a seminar exploring the growing links between conservators and source communities both in the UK and abroad.

In acknowledgement of the role source communities play as stakeholders in the care of collections, and with cultural institutions pushing for wider access and education, conservators have increasingly been seeking consultation with these groups. This has given fresh insight into collections, and informed conservation treatments and interpretation.

The day will include talks on recent collaborative projects between conservators and communities through direct participation and consultation at a distance. Participants will also discuss ethical issues that arise through consultation, and the continuing development of links between source communities and cultural institutions over the years.

The seminar will be held at the Pitt Rivers Museum, which houses an outstanding collection of world artefacts and archaeology, and which has an ongoing programme of active engagement with source communities both in the UK and around the world.

Please go to the Ethnography Group page on the ICON website for registration forms and more information:

or Email:  ethnoreg2011@gmail.com

Student: £30

Regular: £45

Lunch will be provided

21 September 2011

RAI: Blast from the Past

In anticipation of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Education Outreach Programme is running an oral histories project called Blast from the Past. The aim of the project is to connect people around the world through material objects related to sports, games and play.

They are asking people to dig through their attics, family trunks and wardrobes to find objects (sport kits, souvenirs, photos, medals or magazines) that capture special memories related to sport, games and play. Send us a video of you speaking about your object or write a story and send us a photo!

Who can participate?
Anyone interested in anthropology, history and sport

How do I submit my story?
Send us a photo of your object with a description of max 100 words. Alternatively, send us a short video clip, max 1:30 sec.

Deadline for submission: 16th November 2011

Further details and submission forms can be found on our Discover Anthropology website

9 August 2011

UCL course: Introduction to Conservation

The Centre for Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies in collaboration with Heritage Without Borders (www.heritagewithoutborders.org) will run the short course 'Introduction to Conservation: Looking at Objects' on September 7 and 8.

For further details, see the Centre's website: http://www.mhm.ucl.ac.uk/training/introduction-to-conservation.php

'Devil Dancing' at the Powell Cotton Museum

A display of Sri Lankan ‘Devil Dancing’ Masks at the Powell Cotton Museum, Quex Park, Birchington, Kent CT7 0BH has led to a forthcoming visit by Sri Lankan dancers, and even the High Commissioner.

The collection of masks at the Museum was bought 100 years ago in 1911 at Stevens Auction House in Covent Garden London by our founder, Major Percy Powell Cotton.  At the time the masks were said to be better than the collection at the British Museum!

They have been used in gallery displays previously but have not been seen by visitors for quite a few years.  They are dramatic and colourful  and this year it was decided they warranted their own display.  They are proving very popular with our visitors and the associated childrens’ activities have made the gallery a busy place.

The Museum had a recent visit from a representative of the Sri Lankan Tourism Office in London, who was certainly very impressed by what he saw.

 As a result, on Sunday 14th August at 2 p.m., the Museum will be welcoming dancers and the Sri Lankan High Commissioner.  The dancers will perform classical and masked Sri Lankan dance and then ceremonially process to the Gallery to formally open the exhibition.  Local mayors and councillors will attend to greet the High Commissioner.  Sri Lankan tea will be served.

It all goes to prove you never know what will happen when you bring things out of a cupboard……

The exhibition will run until the end of October.
Hazel Basford
Archivist, The Powell Cotton Museum

American Folklore Society Ethnographic Thesaurus

The American Folklore Society Ethnographic Thesaurus (www.openfolklore.org/et/) is now available in a beta version on the Open Folklore (www.openfolklore.org/) portal, a collaborative effort of the Society, the Indiana University-Bloomington Libraries, and the Indiana University Digital Library Program.

The post-beta version, the American Folklore Society Ethnographic Thesaurus 2.0, will be available on that same URL on October 1, 2011.

The AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus is a searchable online vocabulary that can be used to improve access to information about folklore, ethnomusicology, cultural anthropology, and related fields. Supported by a generous grant from the Scholarly Communications Program of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and early planning-grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Folklore Society developed the Thesaurus in cooperation with the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus Editorial Board
(all of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, DC)

Catherine Hiebert Kerst, Folklife Specialist/Archivist
Maggie Kruesi, Cataloger
Michael Taft, Head of the Archive

4 August 2011

Review: Le CERCO, Museon Arlatan at Arles, France

By Alison Petch

Members of MEG may remember the paper given at the 2008 conference by Dominique Serena-Allier and Véronique Dassié. Dominique is the Directeur et Conservateur en Chef du Patrimoine of the Museon Arlatan. She recently invited me to visit while in the region, when my friends and I were kindly guided round the newly completed museum stores by Sophie Peignen, one of the conservators. I thought readers of the blog might like to see some images I took during the visit of the pristine, and for now largely empty, new storage areas.

The Museon is based in the centre of Arles, in the Bouches-du-Rhone department, and includes displays of many of the day to day artefacts from the area surrounding Arles. The museum was founded by the poet Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914) who wanted to collect and display objects that explained the life and material culture of the “Provence rhodanienne”. The museum’s collections number more than 30,000 objects, including furniture, tools, clothing, textiles and archival and library materials.

The museum first opened in 1899 and Dominique was recently successful in attracting many millions of euros funding to develop the main museum site and to create a new storage, conservation and research centre a little outside the Arles town centre - Le CERCO (Le Centre d’Étude, de Restauration et de Conservation des Oeuvres). The main museum closed for renovation in 2009 and should reopen in 2014. The displays, as well as the fabric of the ancient building ( an eighteenth century Jesuit college) will be greatly changed.

Le CERCO was completed recently and work has begun on transferring collections to the new facilities. I was most impressed at the level of investment by the Conseil Général des Bouches-du-Rhône — it is a pity that the British state does not invest so deeply and wisely.

Le CERCO is based in an area with other local government facilities but has its own discrete area with 24-hour security and monitoring. Most circulation areas and all storage and treatment areas have full environmental control and air-conditioning. In addition all circulation areas (but not storage areas) have motion sensitive lighting. One of the few areas that is not air-conditioned is the staff rest room, where a respite from the ravages of air-conditioning on the human frame is more than welcome.

We were shown where new objects are frozen in a large conservation standard freezer, as well as treatment areas where objects can be treated to remove infestation. We also visited the conservation labs and storage areas. The storage areas for large objects (such as large items of furniture) include a fork-lift truck system to make retrieval much easier. We were also shown an area for visiting researchers.

I should like to thank Dominique and Sophie for enabling our visit to the centre and giving us such an excellent tour, and also thank Dominique for her permission to publish this account. Please note that the first image on this page was taken from flickr and the second and third images were taken from the Museon’s online information  about the development.

2 August 2011

Symposium: Museums, Photographs and the Colonial Past

January12-13th 2012
PhotoCLEC Symposium
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford
(A collaboration between De Montfort University and Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford)

This conference examines the politics, poetics and ethics of the photographic visibility of the colonial past in museums in multicultural societies and the construction of postcolonial identities. It will explore the use of photographs in public narratives of difficult histories and examine different sets of problems and approaches across a number of European countries. It raises questions not only about the patterns of engagement, nostalgia, suppression, disavowal and unspeakability which cluster around representations of the colonial past, but questions about the role of photographs in the public space. What is the work expected of photographs? Is the apparent immediacy of the past in photographs too direct and uncontrollable to be accommodated in the carefully managed spaces of state multiculturalism?  What is the role of the artist’s intervention, digital environments, and community projects?  Are there ’safe spaces’ where the colonial might be addressed? Ultimately what kinds of narratives are museums constructing and for whom? How can the complexities of colonial relations be represented in museums and do photographs help or hinder?

The conference is part of the European-funded PhotoCLEC project, an international collaboration of scholars from the UK, The Netherlands and Norway. (see: http://www.heranet.info/photoclec/index). The conference will include the launch of the project’s web resource.

Keynote Speakers:
Professor Bênoit De L’Estoile (CNRS)
Dr Wayne Modest (Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam)

Other Confirmed Speakers include:
Professor Susan Legêne (VU University, Amsterdam), Professor Sigrid Lien (University of Bergen), Professor Elizabeth Edwards (DMU), Miranda Pennell (Filmmaker, Goldsmiths College, University of London), Dr Chiara de Cesari (University of Cambridge), Dr  Sabine Cornelis (RCMA) and Dr Johan Lagae (Univeristy of Ghent).

Fee: £35                                                  Symposium Dinner: c.£32 t.b.c
Places are limited. Please contact Mandy Stuart (astuart@dmu.ac.uk) to reserve your place.

Research project: Fijian Art

Fijian Art: political power, sacred value, social transformation and collecting since the 18th century, a UK-based research project, sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), began on 1 May 2011. 

The 3-year project, hosted by the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, will examine the extensive collections of Fijian art and associated photographs and archives held in museums in the United Kingdom and overseas. 

The dynamic diversity of Fijian art since the 18th century will be revealed through a series of publications and exhibitions.

Nine museums with significant Fijian holdings are project partners: The British Museum (London), Fiji Museum (Suva, Fiji), Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery (Maidstone), Musée du quai Branly (Paris), National Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh), Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, Massachusetts), Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford), Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC) and World Museum Liverpool (Liverpool).

Project personnel will be pleased to hear from museum curators responsible for Fijian material and whose institution wishes to collaborate with project research.  Among the aims of the project is to enhance existing museum records via expert identification and analysis.

Please visit our website www.fijianart.sru.uea.ac.uk or email fijian.art@uea.ac.uk  for more information.

16 June 2011

Vacancy: Tropenmuseum Director

The Royal Tropical Institute (Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen or KIT) is an independent centre for knowledge and expertise in the field of international and inter-cultural cooperation housed in a magnificent historic edifice. KIT’s mission is to further sustainable development, eradication of poverty, preservation and exchange between cultures and to raise interest and support for these aims in the Netherlands. KIT has five main sections: Information & Library Services, Development Policy & Practice, Biomedical Research, Tropentheater and Tropenmuseum, and three staff departments: Personnel, Information & Organisation, Finance & Control and Communication, Hospitality & Facilities. KIT employs around 360 staff in all.
The Tropenmuseum invites applicants for the position of
TROPENMUSEUM DIRECTOR (full-time - 38 hours a week) to start 1 January 2012.
The Tropenmuseum enjoys a reputation at home and abroad as an ethnographic museum. Using its collection and expertise, the museum promotes knowledge and exchange between cultures. The museum possesses an extremely rich collection of objects and photos. Attracting around 200,000 visitors annually, it is one of the country’s leading museums.
The Tropenmuseum presents, researches and promotes knowledge and exchange between cultures. It employs all the tools available to museums: exhibitions, publications, educational and other activities; it provides an empathetic experience to a wide and varied audience. The museum offers an innovative choice of themes and presentation methods, emphasising appreciation for cultural diversity, taking an active part internationally in culture and development, and playing an important role in education.
Through its financial connection to the Ministry of Development Aid, the museum is closely involved in international cooperation and exchange of expertise.
Key themes at the Tropenmuseum are:
•            Culture and development;
•            Cultural exchange and identity;
•            Colonialism and decolonisation;
•            Contemporary art and visual culture.
In recent years, the museum has totally revised its permanent presentation. This is an ongoing process. Plans for the coming years also emphasise realising new sources of income, strengthening ties with targeted groups in society and promoting long-term, mutual international contacts.
In a time of financial stringency, the new director is tasked with maintaining the museum’s innovative mission based on the latest expertise, public focus and sound financial management.
The museum has around 60 staff members in permanent employment. They are supported by a range of flex employees and freelancers. The museum comprises five departments; Administration, Collection, Public & Presentation, Museum Business and Tropenmuseum Junior. The heads of the departments and the director form the management team. The Tropenmuseum Director reports and is, as a part of KIT’s staff, responsible to KIT’s Supervisory Board.
Function Description:
Tropenmuseum Director
·       Is responsible for the development, implementation and evaluation of a long-term vision for the Tropenmuseum, as well as policy and management of the museum within KIT;
·       Is involved in organising funding for the Tropenmuseum within KIT and stimulating substantial additional sources of income;
·       Ensures the Tropenmuseum’s position at home and abroad in terms of content, artistic quality and communication and is involved in acquisition and evaluation of (new) projects;
·       Leads the department management team, and indirectly also the Tropenmuseum staff;
·       Promotes collaboration between the Tropenmuseum and other KIT departments, for example in (inter-cultural) super-departmental projects.
Function Qualifications:
The new director’s curriculum vitae and motivation show that the applicant has attained:
•            Academic levels of work and thinking;
•            Evident relevant experience in a museum environment, preferably internationally oriented;
•            Vision, capacity for strategic thinking;
•            Experience in building and maintaining contacts in public and private life;
•            A motivational, stimulating and coaching leadership style;
•            Well-developed communicative skills, verbal and written;
•            Organisational sensitivity.
To fulfil the position successfully, the director must also have the following qualities.
·       Cultural enterprise: you have a vision for the future of the museum. You think in innovative terms and are sensitive to developments that may influence museum policy. You position the Tropenmuseum as an attractive partner for collaborative projects. You are able to realise additional funding and to persuade financial partners to make long-term commitments to the museum. You ensure financial continuity through collaborative projects at home and abroad. You acquired this expertise preferably through your commercial experience and/or through your experience in realising sponsorships at home and abroad. You focus on working efficiently.
·       Administrative sensitivity: in contacts with both administrative bodies and line departments you combine vision, resolve and persuasive power with understanding and respect for diversity and a belief in collaboration. You have a clear grasp of political and administrative mechanisms and know how to obtain advantage. You recognise the risk of political damage in time and assess successfully the possible effects that your own policy and/or proposals have on other organisations or departments. You see how an organisation’s policy areas interconnect. You can connect the day-to-day running of the museum to future developments, put these into perspective and can establish support for the Tropenmuseum. In this you take account of the interests of those concerned both in and outside the museum and manage to maintain a balance.
·       Decisive leader: you take a clear standpoint in situations, however vague, and you opt for a direction. You make choices, even if some factors are insufficiently clear and seem likely to remain so. You calculate risk consciously.
·       People manager: you know how to deploy your staff’s qualities effectively and can realise the Tropenmuseum’s objectives with respect and sensitivity towards people. You are a motivated, inspirational and coaching leader. You have a natural interest in the professional and personal development of your staff.
·       Networker: you have a wide, useful network (international, Dutch, museums, funds, government, EU). You make and maintain contacts with persons and organisations that are important to the Tropenmuseum. You deploy these in various areas to obtain support and cooperation, for collaborative projects and as critical sparring partners.
For more information about this vacancy please contact Mr J. Donner, Chairman of the KIT Supervisory Board, phone +31 (0)20 5688652. For additional information please visit our websites: www.tropenmuseum.nl and www.kit.nl.
Information about the Tropenmuseum and KIT relating to this vacancy (such as KIT’s annual report and Tropenmuseum’s business plan) is available on request. To receive documentation by mail please add a request on the application form.
Applications should be submitted before 30 June 2011. Please use the online application form accessible via our website: http://www.kit.nl/65152
The application process may involve a selection assessment. Application panels with varying members will conduct at least two rounds of interviews. The aim is to fill the vacancy as of 1 January 2012.