Tag Archives: Museums

Best of Material World Blog: Museums, Exhibitions, Archives, Memorials

– Compiled by Aaron Glass (Bard Graduate Center) 

Since its inception, Material World has treated museums and archives not only as repositories of material culture, but as material culture–that is, material products as well as producers of culture and social memory. As institutions, they are sites of collection and exhibition, acts that have their own material and materializing dimensions.

Here are some of our favorite posts about museums, exhibitions, archives, and memorials:

Graeme Were reviews the Musée du Quai Branly a year after it opened.

Anna Weinrich examines two permanent museum exhibitions in Australia featuring Aboriginal culture and collections by a foundational anthropologist, testing out the new museology against the politics of Aboriginal voice.

Diana Young discusses her curatorial efforts to enliven museum collections in dialogue with Aboriginal artists.

Bethany Edmunds reviews two British exhibitions of Pacific material, reflecting on the role of language in framing both historic and contemporary art and material culture.

Gabriela Nicolescu writes about the aesthetics and ideologies behind changing representation of peasant culture in the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant.

The History Rising project brings together artist and curator to explore the architecture and design of exhibition space, technology, and furniture.

Paul Williams investigates the global trend for museums memorializing atrocities.

In one of the innovative formats on Material World, a conference report details the papers given in a conference called “Disturbing Pasts: Memories, Controversies, and Creativity.”

Matt Voigts discusses London’s vernacular “Ghost bikes” in the context of other urban memorials.

Anna Haverinen explores virtual memorials as means of mourning online.

Christopher Pinney writes about the salvaging of an individual’s photographic archive after monsoon flooding.

Corinne Kratz shares a link to an online archive of publications by Ivan Karp, one of our most prolific and insightful anthropologists of museums and exhibition practice.

And finally, I include one of my own book reviews to call further attention to Museum Pieces, the important 2011 publication by Ruth Phillips that brings togethers essays from her entire career working in and thinking critically about museums.

 

PACIFIC PRESENCES: OCEANIC ART AND EUROPEAN MUSEUMS

24th-25th March 2014

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
University of Cambridge

Booking for our major March conference is now open.
To book go to:
tinyurl.com/PacificPresencesConference

For more details email Ali Clark ac912 (at) cam.ac.uk

Speakers include:
Jonathan Mane-Wheoki
Ralph Regenvanu
Faustina Rehuher-Marugg
Megan Tamati-Quennell
Nicholas Thomas

Details:
March 24th, from 5.30pm, a wine reception and dinner at Corpus Christi College.
March 25th, 9.30am-6pm, one day conference in the McCrum Lecture Theatre, followed at 6.30pm by the opening of an exhibition on Tapa cloth in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

All fees include the wine reception, dinner, conference, conference catering and exhibition reception.

Special Issue of MAR on digital repatriation

The most recent issue of the open-source journal Museum Anthropology Review is focussed on digital media and the return of cultural knowledge and patrimony from museums to source communities, with an emphasis on current collaborative projects (including some by your friendly neighborhood Material World editors and contributors). Check it out!

Museum Anthropology Review Vol 7, No 1-2 (2013): After the Return: Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge.

scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/mar/issue/view/233

CFP: Collecting Geographies – Global Programming and Museums of Modern Art

Organized by Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; ASCA/ACGS University of
Amsterdam, Amsterdam; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Folkwang Museum,
Essen;Tropen Museum, Amsterdam

Location: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Dates: 13-15 March 2014
Deadline for papers: September 30, 2013
Admittance fee: €100,-

Key-note speakers / panel participants
James Clifford, Sarat Maharaj, Annie Coombes
Kader Attia, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Daniel Birnbaum and Tobia
Bezzola.

For the latest information on key-note speakers and panel participants
please keep an eye on our website: www.stedelijk.nl/en

Introduction
Against the backdrop of globalization today, museums for modern and
contemporary art in the West are inclined to pay serious attention to
the acquisition and presentation of art from all over the world, beyond
the still prevalent dominance of European and North American art. Given,
on the one hand, the extreme concentration of internationally operating
art institutions in Western  Europe and the United States, and the often
radically different self-understanding of non-Western art institutions
on the other, the institutional claims to the global need to be
reviewed, contextualized and contested.

Continue reading

Conference Report–”Disturbing Pasts: Memories, Controversies and Creativity”

This summer saw the conclusion of ‘Disturbing Pasts: Memories, Controversies and Creativity’, an international research project led by Leon Wainwright (Department of Art History, The Open University, UK) which began in December 2011. (For an overview of the project, visit: www.open.ac.uk/Arts/disturbing-pasts/ )

The main focus of Disturbing Pasts was a major conference that took place over three days at the Museum of Ethnology, Vienna (recently renamed Weltmuseum Vienna) on 20-22 November 2012. The majority of speakers were from outside academia, the event was free to attend and widely publicised, while ample time was allowed for discussion and interaction with the audience and for networking among participants. It consisted of panels of highly-illustrated presentations on five distinct yet complementary themes. Each panel combined speakers from the three selected groupings of stakeholders (artists, curators and academics) and saw a productive exchange between them.

The sessions were filmed by technicians from The Open University and an audio-visual record of speakers’ presentations is now available at the Open Arts Archive (www.openartsarchive.org) Click on the links below for each presentation, available by ‘open access’.

Panel 1, ‘Cultural Loss and Fragmented Heritage’, began with two presentations from the artists Peju Layiwola (Lagos, Nigeria) and T. Shanaathanan (Jaffna, Sri Lanka), who showed how historical episodes of violence and the removal of cultural property – a British punitive expedition of 1897, and conflict in Sri Lanka – have been explored in each artist’s creative practice, as well as those of their peers. The curator Shan McAnena (Naughton Gallery, Queen’s University Belfast) evaluated recent curatorial attempts to reconnect the city of Belfast to the troubled memory of the Titanic. The visual anthropologist Elizabeth Edwards (De Montfort Leicester) and art historian Simon Faulkner (Manchester Metropolitan University) responded with a related critical debate on museum practice and colonial archives across the UK, and issues of public memory that are raised by paintings of Gerhard Richter recalling the history of Left-wing extremism in 1970s Germany.

Continue reading

Book Review: Museum Pieces by Ruth Phillips

Museum Pieces: Toward the Indigenization of Canadian Museums

Ruth Phillips (2011, Montreal: McGill-Queens’s University Press)

Untitled-2

Reviewed by Aaron Glass (Bard Graduate Center)

“Canada’s collaborative models of museum practice have arisen as organically from its history as the canoe or the snowmobile.”

The first sentence of Ruth Phillips’ long-awaited volume of essays on museums and indigenous people encapsulates a number of her analytical perspectives: it delimits the general institutional field of her study and suggests that particular collaborative practices are characteristic of their national context and their slowly evolving forms. But by invoking iconic modes of both indigenous and settler transportation, Phillips also implies that the museum itself is a form of technology—an engineered machine for achieving specific goals. She even materializes her own contributions to the field by invoking the polysemous term “pieces” to describe the essays contained herein. Throughout the book, she draws on Actor Network Theory to argue for the vital agency of museums (and essays about them) as key players in movements for effective social change, and the value of public controversies for spurring positive developments in institutional policy and protocol. Long a tool of colonial and imperialist ideology, Phillips advocates for the postmodern museum to be a broker and mediator of renegotiated postcolonial relationships—the museum as both beneficiary and sponsor of changing government attitudes toward indigenous peoples.

Likewise, the subtitle of the book communicates central themes within her larger argument. By focusing on developments in Canadian museums over the past fifty years, Phillips calls attention to the country’s cultural and political particularities while demanding a greater recognition for Canada’s role in exporting its innovative methodologies to museums worldwide. Her use of the term “indigenization” operates at multiple levels. On the one hand, it suggests that developments local to Canada—birthplace of multiculturalism as national policy—have a unique flavor (and American readers may note, by contrast to general conditions within the U.S., the strong influence of federal funding, government task force reports, and nation-wide initiatives on largely publicly funded institutions). On the other hand, it calls attention to the positive impact that Canada’s indigenous people have had on transforming national institutions—indeed, on forcing them to operate with indigenous principles in mind to a certain extent. In this latter sense, Phillips’ choice of “indigenization” over an appropriate alternative such as “decolonization” signals an important shift of focus from institutional actions toward indigenous artists, curators, and activists who demanded change. Finally, by hedging the subtitle with “toward,” she implies that the work of institutional transformation is unfinished business, and she offers the essays as both documentation of past developments and prompt to future ones.

Continue reading

“Clothes Tell Stories:” An Online Costume Workbook

The ICOM’s Costume Committee is looking for contributions to the special project “Clothes Tell Stories”, which will be launched at the meeting in Rio de Janeiro 2013. You can see more about the exciting program under “News – next annual meeting” on the Committee website www.costume-committee.org.

This project, called an on-line Costume Workbook, is a web-based resource for museums, students and the general public about how to use costume to tell stories: costume is extremely evocative and always has an immediate appeal in museums. Clothes so easily illustrate many kinds of stories because, when correctly used, they bring an extremely personal aspect to our history. Costume Committee members are contributing their expertise in this project to illustrate many aspects of working with historical costume which will be useful for others: terminology, exhibition techniques, successful labels, contemporary collecting, aspects of proper storage and handling, exhibition walk-throughs and much more.

The Costume Commitee is interested in hearing from those of you who have some under-exposed costume in your collections which they might use as illustrations or case stories. They found unusual, little-known and exciting items of clothing in art museums, archives, historical houses, museums of natural history, university, specialty and technical museums, and these always seem to increase in exhibition value – and contribute to costume history in general! – when a costume expert has been consulted. The Commitee is interested in offering how they as costume experts can elicit more information from special items to help tell the stories you want to tell.

As many small and/or specialty museums do not have access to personnel trained in working with costume, the Commitee hope the Costume Workbook can help teach how to store, handle and show costume and accessories. This will not only bring less-known historical costume out in the open, but will contribute to creating valuable new contacts between museums and ICOM specialists.

For further information, contact the Costume Committee’s Chair, Katia Johansen at kj@dkks.dk

(cross posted from www.museodata.com/noticias/convocatorias/2033-contributions-costume-commitee.html)

Digital Media in Museums Review

A review by Barry Joseph of the latest use of digital media in museums which includes discussions of  a Pew Research report, “Arts Organizations and Digital Technologies”, the 2013 Mooshme Survey, blog posts on skunkworks projects in museums,  Ze Frank and His Online Community and the New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2012 Museum Edition.

Encountering the sacred in museums: an event at the British Museum

Friday 15 March, 10.30-17.00

What role do museums play in visitors’ religious and spiritual lives? Join us for a unique day of discussions on the varied ways visitors practise their faith and encounter the sacred in museums. Featuring speakers from a mix of museum and academic backgrounds, this event will explore the visitor experience at venues including the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, the Creation Museum in Kentucky and the recent ‘spiritual journeys’ exhibitions at the British Museum.

Confirmed speakers include Karen Armstrong, British Museum Trustee; Rickie Burman, The National Gallery; Qaisra Khan, Project Curator at The British Museum; and Dr John Troyer, Deputy Director of the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath

Book online at: www.britishmuseumshoponline.org/study-days/encountering-the-sacred-in-museums/invt/mevsd1encsac/

Event details:
£35, Members/concessions £28
The Stevenson Lecture Theatre, the British Museum, London
Morning and afternoon refreshments will be provided
The Museum will remain open until 20.30