The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Re-visiting the Contact Zone Conference - grants for attendance available

Re-visiting the Contact Zone: Museums, Theory, Practice 17-21st July 2011 Linkoping, Sweden Organised and funded by the European Science Foundation

We welcome papers and posters from researchers and from museum practitioners. If you are a practitioner and would prefer to not give a formal paper, then we also welcome applications to play the role of 'discussant' and respond to the ideas and arguments of other papers. Because we have a limited number of spaces available, it is especially helpful to us if applicants are open to various possible roles.

To participate you apply via the ESF website:

If you would like to play the role of discussant then simply include this in the box where the description of your paper is asked for. In the box which calls for lists of publications, we welcome accounts of your recent museum practice (exhibitions, learning programmes, community engagement). Please note that there is a limit on the number of spaces available for speaking at the conference and the ESF gives preference to early career applicants and a spread of countries. For this reason, please also be sure to indicate whether you would also be willing to give a poster presentation or act as discussant.

Some grants to cover travel, accommodation and conference fees for early career researchers and practitioners are available.

Deadline for applications: 17th April 2011.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

AL_A : Amanda Levete Architects : AL_A win V&A competition

AL_A : Amanda Levete Architects : AL_A win V&A competition Amanda Levete Architects have won the competition to design the V&A's extension. This building will sit on the site of Leibeskind's halted Spiral, and provide the home for temporary exhibitions. Given that this is the company which designed the Birmingham Selfridges, I'm keen to watch this and see what happens...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Brown Bags Take You on a Tour of Wonderment

Brown Bag 23nd March 2011
Attic Review
“The Artist As Curator: Dennis Severs' House, Spitalfields”

David Milne, Keeper, Dennis Severs House

Humanity has a deep-seated need for imagination. It is at the root of our joys and sorrows, our triumphs and disasters. We also have a fundamental need for the past, to know what we were and where we came from, in order to know what we can or might be. Bringing those things together is the role of the storyteller: the role, then, of the curator. But it is seen as a difficult thing to achieve.

It can, however, be done, and done well. David Milne's Brown Bag seminar today was a stunning example of how artistry, theatre, and love can come together to create a vision of a place, its past, and its populations. At 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, London, the late artist Dennis Severs created an astonishing, fully immersive artistic intervention, a three dimensional painting, in which historical boundaries are transcended and the personal time of the visitor, and the world which they have just entered, collide and coalesce. The visitor embarks upon a tour of ten rooms, following the story of the House and its occupants from the 18th century's days of grandeur, to the latter 19th century, and the deprivation and poverty of the Dickensian city. We were lucky enough to be invited on that tour today, albeit through photographs alone – a small taste of the experience which certainly whet my appetite for more.

You begin in the basement, where ancient Spitalfields lies. Genuine cobwebs, history's signature upon the House, make the light diffused and opaque, and you realise the antiquity of the site, and the palimpsestual nature of living and dwelling.

Moving into the kitchen, you enter the realm of the Jervises, a Hugenot weaver family who fled to Spitalfields from persecution. Scents linger in the air...sometimes cooking, sometimes the fresh air of spring. And outside, there are horses on the cobbled street, and the distant movement of the House, the whispered voices of the family who just seem to have left.

Emerging up to the ground floor, and moving forwards in time, you come to the heavily baroque Dining Chamber, Dutch in style and filled with dark cabinets for curiosities and collections. These cabinets seem a strange evocation of Dennis Severs' own approach: to collect things which were precious and pleasing, to make no forced attempt at historical 'accuracy.' This is an interesting approach – all spaces, all attempts to recreate a historic environment, all are fictions. The difference here is that Folgate Street never makes any secret of its theatricality. In fact, it is this theatricality which provides it with its own kind of truth.

It is not, however, a space in which historical research is underused: in the Dining Room, the favoured guest seems to have been seated above the salt, the most expensive item on the table, in much the same way as they would have been three centuries and more ago. I say seems, because you notice as you move a paradoxically present absence, the inhabitants who always remain just a little out of reach. Things, personal items and half eaten food are the indications that a moment ago, there was somebody living and breathing in here. But the occupants themselves are forever not quite there.

These occupants lend a life to Folgate Street, a life so often missing in the roped and musealised historic house. But here is a 'wonderful madness' which fills the space, which invites you, the visitor, in to be a part of it, to add to it. And this you realise, as you come to understand that the House is never standing still. Constantly changing in scent, sound and light, not just within a single visit but over the course of its own biography, this House never allows itself to die, to sit still. In the Smoking Room, you note the Hogarth on the wall. This room was based upon the work of Hogarth, yet this painting appeared only after the room's original creation. The painting, when it arrived, gave new life and new characters to the House, for the figures in the painting seem to have left their effects around the Smoking Room, in which the fireplace burns.

By the time you reach the Drawing Room, you have arrived in the Neoclassical London of the 1750s, the time of the House's first real modernisation, and the change from the cluttered eclecticism of the previous rooms is clear. Here, the demand was for lightness, for symmetry and balance, for a purity and beauty. But here too remain uncanny echoes, for in this room Dennis Severs recreated the ceiling of a lost house of Spitalfields Square, torn down in the late 1970s before the introduction of the planning laws. Its beautiful plasterwork was lost, but using historical plans, Severs created a new version. This is a strange kind of recreation – not an imitation as much as a homage, a lament for what was lost. Other things often forgotten appear in this space. The Lady of the House makes an appearance – an unusual occurrence in a historic house, where usually the female characters are more or less consigned to the kitchen.

You move on, the to apex of the House's period of prosperity, to the Master Bedroom, which represents the last days of the profitable silk production. In this chamber, life becomes only more apparent, for upon the dressing table, antique even for the time of the setting, lie scattered jewels, wigs and personal devotional items, the ruins of an 18th century lady's night out. The occupants of the space, however, exist at various levels of temporal removal from yourself, for it was here that Dennis Severs himself lived, conducting his affairs from this site, much as his 18th century forbears would have done. His computer, in fact, now an antique itself, can still be found behind a screen. Precious things, no matter their age, fashion or use, are valued for their inherent values, the stories and connections which they can make. In this room, occupancy and ownership are problematized. Is it Severs' space? That of the Lady of the House? Or is it both of these and more?

Moving through into the Regency Room of the 1830s, you enter the beginning of the House's period of decline. The master of the house has died, and the sound creates a sense of a city on the brink of an unprecedented explosion. And by the time you enter the uppermost room, in which an almost destitute family of weavers lives in 19th century East End poverty, and then on to a room inspired by the social eye of Charles Dickens, you know that you are following the history not just of a family or house, but of an area, an industry, a city – a changing way of life.

For years people in the heritage sector laughed at Severs, calling Folgate Street theatre, illusion, rubbish, incorrect. But the tide, fortunately, is now turning, for as the profession becomes increasingly self-reflexive, and understands the products it creates as creations – as subjective, inventive, as more and less than what they intend to represent – it can begin to see the value in imagination, and the truth that comes from a living, breathing material engagement with story, space and object which a place such as Dennis Severs House provides. Nantucket Coffin House, one of the oldest houses in the United States, invited Milne out to consider how the site might come to life. He has worked with the Back to Back project in Birmingham, and currently is in discussion with Coughton Court and Metaphor. In bringing back life, through imagination, physical experience and material goods, the houses can become truly active, demanding agents in the emotional lives of their users.

This is a place which questions what truth means, in which your senses become confused as to your temporal location as you hear a cannon fire a hundred and seventy four years ago, when a Queen came to the throne. It is space of escape, a space of personal discoveries and imaginings. People have cried in Dennis Severs' House, simply because they saw something, or because they did not see.

Thank you, David, for giving us a presentation so out of the ordinary, and for showing us the value of imagination, of artistry – and for showing us the power of the 'truth of life's fictions.'*

* Thi Minh-Ha Trinh, When the Moon Waxes Red: Representation, Gender and Cultural Politics, (London: Routledge, 1991)

Scholarships at the School of Museum Studies

We are delighted to announce that the School here at Leicester is offering four PhD scholarships each worth £6,000, to commence from October 2011.

There are awards in four categories
- Natural History Collections and Museums
- Managing Digital Collections
- The Ethical Terrain of the Art Museum and Gallery
- Museums, Cities, Politics and Policy

The closing date for application is 09 May 2011 and it is hoped that the successful applicant will be notified by the end of May.

For more information, please click here

Friday, March 18, 2011

CFP: Museum History Journal

Museum History Journal, now in its fourth volume, is soliciting new submissions for volumes 5 and 6, to appear in 2012 and 2013 (each volume includes two issues, published in January and July). For specific submission guidelines and other information, please visit the Left Coast Press website:

Museum History Journal is an international, peer-reviewed journal of critical, evaluative histories related to museums. Content encompasses not only a broad range of museum types—including natural history, anthropology, archaeology, fine art, history, medical and science and technology—but also related cultural institutions such as aquaria, zoos, botanical gardens, arboreta, historical societies and sites, architectural sites, archives and planetariums. It presents a variety of scholarly approaches, such as analytical, narrative, historical, cultural, social, quantitative and intellectual.

Please send manuscripts to the Editor, Hugh H. Genoways .

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Friday is the Last Day!

Tomorrow, Friday, is the last day to register for our conference, Curiouser and Curiouser, or to seek refunds if you cannot come. We hope to see you there; we even have goody bags for you! Museobunny and his helpers have put a lot of work into these, as you can see below; the backs are even better, but you'll have to wait until the conference to see them in person!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Brown Bag Review: Fashion Museology

Brown Bag, March 16, 2011: 'Fashion Museology: Identifying and Contesting Fashion in Museums'
Marie Riegels Melchior, Research Fellow, Kunstindustrimuseet (The Danish Museum of Art & Design Denmark)

Abstract: Marie Riegels Melchior, who is a Research Fellow at The Danish Museum of Art & Design (Copenhagen) and currently visiting the School of Museum Studies, will in her talk present and discuss her work-in-progress on the topic of what she terms 'fashion museology'. Fashion as a subject has within the last ten to fifteen years been given increasingly attention by museums and the research project aims at getting a further understanding of why so and to explore what potential fashion has in the context of museums with a visitor-centered ethos.

This afternoon, we heard a very interesting summary of a research project at its very beginning. Marie used the hour to talk us through her thoughts and methodology as she begins to develop a collecting and exhibitions policy for fashion galleries at the Danish Museum of Art & Design in Copenhagen.

She began by pointing out the explosion in fashion across museums and galleries worldwide; it is not only represented in traditional venues, as cultural history, but also as art and as design. What else is new about this trend is that items of clothing, which might previously been called costume or dress, are now being called fashion, and the change in nomenclature has consequences for how the contents of these shows are displayed and understood. Fashion, representative of style, identity, culture, and the new, is seen as a medium through which to engage with social trends (being itself trendy); yet, as Marie points out, actual exhibitions are still bound to very traditional modes of display. One part of her project, therefore, examines how fashion, as a technology for the production of the new, can be used as a method for the realization of the engagement aims of the New Museology.

At the Danish Museum of Art and Design, it was decided to expand the existing folk and upper-class dress collections to make a ‘museum within a museum’, which would document and promote the growing and successful fashion industry in Denmark. The government has made it a priority to support this industry as a means of creating a national identity, and the museum has a responsibility and a vested interest to comply. However, it does create new sets of aims and objectives for the mission of this new initiative: what would constitute fashion in the new collecting policy, and what should be its scope? (Local or international? Prototypes and showpieces or high street mass-produced brands?) Finally, what is the deeper purpose of fashion in the museum, and how can it be brought out with curatorial practice?

Using case study institutions, with a range of methodologies including analysing mission statements and interviews, Marie is creating a picture of current practice across various major fashion-exhibiting institutions. She has found that despite the potentially wide-reaching relevance of fashion as a means of documenting and questioning contemporary society, very few museums actually do this. There remains an attachment to a concretely materialist form of display that aestheticises the objects, provides only the barest information, and mythologizes the designer. Marie regards this as a lost opportunity, as she notes the popularity of fashion exhibitions despite their uninspiring nature. She therefore seeks to redefine fashion in the museum as a form of public wardrobe: accessible and socially responsible, with the potential to engage the fashion industry in questions of ethics and process.

We really enjoyed this discussion of the potential power of fashion as a progressive tool of the New Museology, and look forward to hearing more about Marie’s work and seeing the results in Copenhagen!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CFP: Museums of Ideas

We invite international submissions to be included in this forthcoming book,
being published by MuseumsEtc [] in Summer 2011.

Traditionally, museums have been established on the basis of collections.
However, some of today’s most challenging and dynamic museums throughout the
world are those founded on the basis of ideas. Their themes span human
rights, social inclusion, peace, health, gender or climate change. Their
size, budget, scope and ambitions may differ, but they are all driven and
committed in a way which tends to set them apart. Among them are such
institutions as:

* Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg
* Galleries of Justice Museum, Nottingham
* Kliptown Museum, Soweto
* Liberation War Museum, Bangladesh
* Lower East Side Tenement Museum, New York
* Museum of AIDS in Africa
* Museum of Memory and Tolerance, Mexico City
* Museum of Memory in Rosario, Argentina
* National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati
* The Women's Museum: An Institute for the Future, Dallas
* Tower Museum, Northern Ireland

Museums of Ideas will provide an in-depth international overview of the work
of these committed and often pioneering institutions, highlighting what can
be learned from their experiences. The book will aim to highlight what is
different about them and what is working for them.

We welcome submissions - of between 2000 to 6000 words - in the form of case
studies, essays or opinion pieces focusing on, but not limited to, the
following aspects of these museums’ operations, especially where these
reflect new, innovative and successful practice in museums large and small:

* Institutional positioning
* Governance
* Objectivity and multiple points-of-view
* Passion
* Influence
* Communication and outreach
* Recruitment practice
* Management practice
* Measuring impact, outcomes and achievement
* Problems faced
* Political dimensions

If you are interested in being considered as a contributor, please send an
abstract (up to 250 words) and a short biography to by
31 March 2011. Any enquiries should also be sent to this address.
Contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the publication and a
discount on more.

The book will be published in both print and digital formats by MuseumsEtc
in Summer 2011.

ABSTRACTS: due 31 March 2011
COMPLETED PAPERS: due 30 April 2011
PUBLICATION: Summer 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Attic Attack: Rundown

For those of you who missed our collaboration with The New History Lab, Gill has kindly provided a summary of our objects and the narrative over at NHL's blog. Read, digest, comment, pass it on!

Book Sale

From Left Coast Press:
Left Coast's birthday is March 16, sandwiched between the Ides of March and St. Patrick's Day. Every car dealership and electronics store will be having a St. Patrick's Day sale, so we're going the other way. Welcome to the "Left Coast Ides of March Sale" honoring our sixth birthday. Until March 20, you can purchase any Left Coast book from our website via our US distributor at a 30% discount.

Increase your discount! Win a free book!

To sweeten the celebration we'll offer this: improve on Caesar's last words and we'll improve your discount. The Ides of March were made notorious by the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. According to the noted classics scholar, William Shakespeare, his last words were "Et tu Brute! Then fall Caesar!" Very dull. Certainly one of the wittiest Romans could have extemporized a better last line than that. According to some classical writers, he did: "Why, this is violence!" (Suetonius) or "Accursed Casca, what does thou?" (Plutarch). This still leaves plenty of room for improvement.

So, Left Coast readers, here is your challenge. Come up with better "last words of Julius Caesar" than the classical historians and Elizabethan dramatists have reported. Send it to us by March 18 and we'll send a secret code that gives you an additional 10% discount. Remember, it needs to be short--after all, he had 23 stab wounds by the time he fell. And, though Caesar probably declaimed in Greek or Latin, please submit your entries in English. The top three responses will WIN A FREE Left Coast paperback of your choice.

How it Works

1. All Left Coast books are on sale at a 30% discount between NOW and March 20, 2011.

2. Books must be ordered directly from our website and through our US distributor (U Chicago Press) and must include the discount code: L1011. In the shopping cart, insert the code and hit "update" to get the correct price.

3. Give us your nomination for "the last words of Julius Caesar" to increase your discount. Submit it via email to on or before March 18 and we will send you a different, secret, yes secret, code that will allow you to purchase any Left Coast books at a 40% discount until March 20, 2011.

4. The three best "last words of Caesar" entries will receive a FREE Left Coast paperback of your choice. The winning entries (and any others that aren't obscene or libelous) will be posted on our Facebook page. Judging this competition will be our crack team of Left Coast classicists, none of whom ever took Latin in school.

Here is our attempt at improving on Caesar:

"There goes my chance of winning Survivor: Rome!"

Let's see what you can do.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Museological Review Special Issue now online

Museological Review Issue 15, 2011 is now online at

Professor Susan Pearce Foreword: Materiality and Intangibility: Contested Zones

Jenniefer Gadsby The Effect of Encouraging Emotional Value in Museum Experiences

Magnus Gestsson and Serena Iervolino Interpreting Art in the Public Sphere: the Ways Display Locations and Strategies Affect the Meaning of an Artwork

Helen Saunderson Intangible Material: Interventionist Art Works

Mary Lester, Joanna Marchant, Ellie Miles and Kathrin Pieren ‘My London’: Exploring Identities Through Audience Participation and Critical Consumption

Robyn McKenzie From the Contested Zone: String Figures in the Museum

Tânia da Fonte Geo-archaeological Research: from 'Drawing a Triangle' to Three Dimensions

Catherine Moore The Material in the Immaterial – The Powell-Cotton Oukwanyama Film Archive and some Contemporary Material Responses among the Community it Depicts

Rebecca Wade The Boundaries of Knowability: Using the Archive to Reconstruct the 1839 Leeds Public Exhibition

J2 'In the Fold' Imagining Words and Image

'The Haida Project' - a Brown Bag Review

Brown Bag 2nd March 2011

“The Haida Project: Ethnographic Collections Linking UK Museums and Indigeneous Communities”

Dr Laura Peers, Pitt Rivers Museum

The themes of Laura Peers' presentation chime well with those of the last Brown Bag, as both are experimental projects with a desire to create links between museums, objects, staff and source communities, and to re-ignite the power of heritage. They do so, however, in very different ways, and Laura’ss presentation allows us to move from the digital world into one more visceral and sensory.

The Haida have been an iconic presence in the Pitt Rivers throughout its history, the Haida Totem Pole in particular a prominent presence in the Museum. There are over three hundred items in its display, but the typological arrangement of the displays hides them. When she arrived at the museum in 1998, Dr Peers noted the lack of life, in this collection in particular, and wondered what she could do. Her core project became one of creating connections, and reanimating the objects, filling them with vivacity. Part of making the objects more accessible, prominent and individuated was their uploading to Flickr. But the importance of a project such as this is not just as a way of enlivening collections, but of reconnecting people with their heritage, through items which have not been seen in their originary communities for at least fifty, if not one hundred years. In the case of the Haida, who have suffered significant persecution in the past, with their objects 'hoovered' from their homelands, their culture suppressed, and the endangering of their language, access to such ancient, important material is vital. And for the museum industry, the encouragement of professionals from different cultural backgrounds can strongly enrich their knowledge and understanding of the collections which they hold in trust. Laura also desired to examine what “relationship,” such a buzz word since the rise of the New Museology, really means, not just in terms of the relationships of museums and communities, but between museums and objects, and objects and communities.

How was the collection to be given life? How were the nuances of “relationships” to be explored? In 2009, supported by the Leverhulme Fund and, in some cases, by the delegates themselves, a group of twenty one Haida researchers arrived at the Pitt Rivers to engage with the collection in a way which would turn out to be highly physical and emotional. It is this visit upon which Laura’s presentation focused, though the delegation were also to visit the British Museum's collection, and the hope was that an international network would be created with the Haida Gwaii Museum, allowing more permanent connections with source communities and museums to be established.

A laudable aim, for certain, but the process was not always an easy one. Simply in terms of museum logistics, the size of the project was problematic. Eighty per cent of the Haida collection at the Pitt Rivers were in the cases, and therefore it was necessary that they were removed: problematic in terms of movement, and of the display itself. And of course, fear arose on the part of museum staff, concerned about the 'uncontrolled handling' of fragile objects, and the ways in which the Haida might have engaged with them. For the Haida, the issues were emotional and moral, for at times the objects which they were shown had highly powerful, troubling resonances. The chiefly headgear, for example, elicited tearful outbursts, and the weeping was not only for the associated, and departed individual, but for the object's imprisonment, for their supressed cultureand their subjugation and mistreatment in the past.

But, it seems, the handling sessions themselves provided overwhelmingly positive experiences, and a video showed us how highly dynamic, engaging and sensory the whole process became. For the Haida, when presented with the objects, wept, cradled them, touched them, wore them, and sang. At times, too, the museum staff even joined in. even those objects which were deemed worrisome for the Pitt Rivers, due to their fragility, were treated with a tender kindness, and the approach which the Pitt Rivers took in informing the delegates of the fragility of the pieces, rather than preventing them from touching or handling them. In a way, the sessions allowed the people to reclaim a heritage they had lost, or that they were physically coming to know for the first time. They were able to perform identities, both their own and those of the objects, and in this way the personalities of both human and material culture were shored up and reformed. All in all, there were only six small breakages, four of which were rebreakages, not bad given the size of the group. In fact, Laura suspects that it was this uncontrolled handling which was the most valuable for establishing and re-establishing relationships. For in the end, the museum staff stood back, accepted that the Haida engaged with their objects in a different way, not a way which was less caring or careful, but which forged an emotional bond with material in a very different way. In a sense, whilst the Haida engagement is more obviously sensual, the museum's relationship of distance and objectivity with the objects becomes the strange one, though I hasten to add it is no less valid for all that strangeness.

In the end, however, such boundaries were broken, and the dichotomy between museum staff and Haida melted away, to create co-researchers, co-experiencers, clearly apparent from the photographs and videos which Laura shows. Relationships have been maintained with the researchers and the Haida Gwaii institution, and plans are afoot to provide museological training to the Haida community and to staff at the Haida Gwaii Museum. Attitudes on both sides have developed and changed, things have been learned. The museum staff have seen a new way of viewing objects, the Haida, whilst sad to leave their objects behind, know that the objects are cared for, and have a desire to engage with their use in a productive and powerful fashion. The post presentation discussion intimated that this could have serious implications not just for the ways in which we can allow objects to be understood and engaged with in terms of research and display, but also in terms of the repatriation debate. Sensory, open, emotional engagement and the need for the political and physical repatriation of objects seem to be intimately connected, for as Laura notes, the more open access you give communities to museum collections, the fewer repatriation requests you receive.

All of this, then, begs the question of what a museum does, and indeed what a museum is. Is the museum an institution which holds things bound within its walls? In the age of the hyperlink, I, and many other do not think it can afford to remain purely this way. Whilst the physical building remains an important keystone, the museum in the world of the web becomes a network, an action, a thing done rather than a place in which it is done. The museum, through projects such as this, can be questioned institutionally, brought out of itself into a realm of expansive power. It seems ironic, almost, that such a question arises from a project conducted in perhaps the most 'museum-y' museum of them all.

Thank you, Dr. Peers, for a powerful and illuminating presentation. I hope that your relationships, networks, interactions and flows are maintained, and that your projects can continue apace. I've certainly been encouraged to look at objects, and curatorial handlings of them, in a new light. I'm looking forward to seeing the Haida Project's website at the PRM! So many thanks, and we look forward to learning how the results progress.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The ICOFOM publication "What is a museum?", edited by Ann Davis, Francois Mairesse and André Desvallées, has been published both as printed and online copy. This book is the revised and enlarged translated version of "Vers un redéfinition du musée?"(L'Harmattan), which, for example contains a pictorial series by Marc Maure: "The gaze of a museologist: Signs and visitors".

This book addresses administrators and politicians, museum professionals and museologists likewise. It reflects the so-called ICOM "definition" of museum in a new light and gives an impression how visitors meet with museums.

Foreword – The Paradox of the Seagull: Michel Van Praët

Preface: Ann Davis

François Mairesse, André Desvallées and Ann Davis: Redefining Museum

Part I: Defining Museum
François Mairesse: The Term Museum

Gary Edson: Defining Museum

André Gob: A Museum Dialogue

Lynn Maranda: On “Museum”

Marc Maure: The Museum: Expressing Identity

Tereza M. Scheiner: Defining Museum and Museology: an Ongoing Process

Tomislav Šola:The Museum Definition: Questioning the Scope and Motives

Part II: Does the Calgary Declaration Redefine Museum?
Bernard Deloche:Definition of Museum

André Desvallées: About the Definition of Museum

Jennifer Harris: The Definition of Museum

Ivo Maroevic: Towards the New Definition of Museum

Olga Nazor: Reflections on the Notion “Museum”

Andrés Sansoni: Thoughts About an “Aletheia” of Museum

Martin R. Schärer: What is a Museum?

Marc Maure: How do visitors see the museum? A picture collection

74 black & white ills., 216 pages DIN A5. See:
€ 32, when ordering directly (f.e. via our online shop, see link)plus PAP, or via any bookstore:
ISBN 978-3-932704-81-9

Important: You can download the book in its PDF version already for 28 €, quick, in full colour, without PAP by buying it via "Click and buy" (secure and fast payment by creditcard, German Telecom filiate):

Thursday, March 03, 2011

CFP: Museums and Difficult Heritage


ICMAH Annual Conference 2011
IAMH 10th International Conference

Helsinki City Museum
ICMAH, ICOM’s International Committee for Museums and Collections of Archaeology and History
IAMH, International Association Museums of History

Helsinki, Finland

16 - 18 June 2011

The definition of difficult heritage introduced by Sharon Macdonald (ICMAH Annual Conference 2007) may be used as a starting point for the conference: “The difficult heritage is concerned with histories and pasts that do not easily fit with self-identities of the groups of whose pasts or histories they are part. Instead of affirming positive self-images, they potentially disrupt them or may threaten to open up social differences and conflicts. Difficult heritage deals in unsettling histories rather than the kinds of heroic or progressive histories with which museums and heritage sites have more traditionally been associated.”

The subject of difficult heritage is relevant not only to museums focusing on the recent past, but also to all archaeological and historical museums, which may present problematic and controversial subjects. ICMAH and IAMH challenge museum professionals and researchers to consider the role, possibilities and limitations of museums in presenting difficult heritage.


What kind of subjects have archaeological and historical museums tackled in striving to bring difficult heritage to the fore? What are the social, political, cultural or historical themes to which museums can contribute in terms of topical discussion? Should museums be more active in bringing up controversial themes?

How will these challenges be reflected in practical museum work? In the end, how much does handling difficult subjects change the museum professional’s role as a conservator of cultural heritage? Can a museum use an exhibition to take a stand or should it retain an objective attitude and distance itself from the subject? How can museum professionals deal with difficult heritage without looking at the past in a tendency-oriented manner or from too narrow a perspective?

Have the position and significance of museum objects been changed by the addressing of difficult subjects? How should museum professionals regard the fact that artefacts in exhibitions are decreasing in number and are being replaced by other forms of presentation? Will archaeological and historical museums eventually end up like science museums, which turned into science centres once interactive equipment became more common?

How do museum visitors feel about exhibitions on such subjects? To what extent and in what ways should the number of visitors and the feedback received from visitor surveys influence the exhibition and collection policies of archaeological and historical museums? In other words, should museums offer the public only what it expects?

Helsinki City Museum, ICMAH and IAMH invite all museum professionals and researchers to submit proposals for presentations and to participate in three days of professional exchange and discussion. Presentations are limited to 20 minutes.

The length of abstracts should not exceed 250 words. Also, include a short CV with the contact address and the professional details (name, position, address, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail).

Please, submit the abstract of your presentation in English by 22 April 2011 to:

The plenary and case study sessions will be held in English.

Jari Harju
Helsinki City Museum
Tel: +358 931036504

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

China's National Museum Reopens

China's National Museum, lying to the east of Tian'anmen Square in central Beijing, reopened Tuesday after nearly four years of renovations.

As part of the renovations, the museum has been expanded to 191,900 square meters with 49 exhibition rooms, reportedly making it the largest museum in the world.

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Open Access Journals

In these days of budget cuts and increasing infringements on anything free (including Internet access), it's nice to see some open-access scholarship. A website that indexes some leading Open Access journals is and here are some of the museum-related journals available, including the School's very own Museum&Society. Remember: open access does not mean low-quality, so support these journals for the valuable public forum they provide.