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.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Of interest to some?

ACAH2014 - The Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities
3rd to 6th April 2014
Osaka, Japan

Web address:

Sponsored by: IAFOR - The International Academic Forum


The International Academic Forum in partnership with Waseda University (Japan), Birkbeck University of London (UK), The National Institute of Education (Singapore), The National University of Tainan (Taiwan), Lincoln University (UK), the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKSAR), Virginia Tech (USA), Auburn University (USA), and its global partners is proud to announce the Fifth Annual Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities, to be held from April 3-6 2014, at the Rihga Royal Hotel, and The Osaka International Conference Center, Osaka, Japan.

Hear the latest research, publish before a global audience, present in a supportive environment, network, engage in new relationships, experience Japan, explore Osaka and Kyoto, join a global academic community...

Join us as we celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities, and explore new avenues of interdisciplinary study in the wonderfully rich physical and cultural environment of Japan. This international conference will again bring together university scholars working throughout Japan, Asia, and beyond to share ideas and forge working relationships with each other over a stimulating, challenging, and fun long weekend.

Conference Theme 2014: Individual, Community and Society: Conflict, Resolution and Synergy

Conflict from earliest times has been a characteristic of the human condition. The struggle between our individual selves and our social selves arises from what makes us unique on the one hand, being challenged by our being part of an interdependent structure of relationships on the other.

The specific blend of experiences, abilities, attitudes, and aspirations, that helps to define us, can sit sometimes uncomfortably alongside our commitments to those closest to us, our communities and our cultures. This can lead to conflict at different levels.

Conflict within communities and societies is inevitable given that these groups are based on commonality of geography, values, attitudes, and beliefs that help to differentiate one from another. The dialectic engendered by diversity, however, although it may lead to conflict, can play an important role in the expansion of ideas in communities and societies. One major challenge of modern society is to harness the synergy that emerges from the interactive dialectic generated by these differences.

The Arts and Humanities have long recognized these differences and frictions when they try to explain conflict through the systematic exploration of ideas, words, and artistic expression. By proposing such a wide-ranging 2014 conference theme, the organizers hope to encourage exciting new avenues of research, inspire the creation of new explanatory concepts, and provide a context for academic and personal encounters. The resultant exchanges it is hoped will stimulate synergies that cross national, religious, cultural and disciplinary divides. This is central to the global vision of iafor.

We look forward to seeing you (again) in Osaka in 2014!

Professor Stuart D.B. Picken
Order of the Sacred Treasure, M.A., B.D., Ph.D., F.R.A.S.
Chairman, Japan Society of Scotland and Chairman IAFOR IAB
Conference Chair, The Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities 2014

Abstract Submissions Deadline Extended: February 1 2014

Publishing Opportunities:
Authors of Accepted Abstracts will have the opportunity of publishing their associated paper in the official conference proceedings, and a selection of papers will be considered for inclusion in the internationally peer-reviewed IAFOR Journal of Arts and Humanities.
For more information about the journal and to see our latest issue, please visit

The International Academic Forum - A Global Academic Partnership
IAFOR works with our university partners to nurture and encourage the best in international, intercultural and interdisciplinary research. We work with senior administrators and professors in our partner institutions to develop programs which are timely, thought-provoking and academically rigorous. The global partnership alliance means that our interdisciplinary conferences are backed by some of the world's foremost institutions of learning. For more information about IAFOR, please visit our website at

ACAH 2014 will be held alongside the fourth Asian Conference on Literature and Librarianship - LibrAsia 2014, and registrants for either conference will be given the opportunity to attend sessions in the parallel event at no extra charge. Please click on the banner to go to the LibrAsia 2014 sister site.

The Fifth Conference on the Arts and Humanities is happy to host the 2014 DAMIN Round Table (When Orient and Occident Meet) as part of the conference. DAMIN is an international research partnership studying Silver Monentary Depreciation and International Relations. The International Academic Forum is a partner organization, and others include the National Center for Scientific Research - CNRS (France), The Ecole Normale Superieure (France), The National Museum of Denmark, The Financial University (Russia), The Far Eastern Federal University (Russia), Tokyo University (Japan), and Keio University (Japan).

ACAH/LibrAsia Conference Chair - Stuart D. B. Picken

Stuart D. B. Picken is the founding chairman of the IAFOR International Advisory Board. The author of a dozen books and over 130 articles and papers, he is considered one of the foremost scholars on Japan, China, and Globalization in East Asia.

As an academic, Professor Picken has devoted more than 30 years to scholarship in Japan, notably as a professor at the International Christian University in Tokyo, where he specialized in ethics and Japanese thought, and as International Adviser to the High Priest of Tsubaki Grand Shrine (Mie prefecture). He has also served as a consultant to various businesses, including Jun Ashida Ltd., Mitsui Mining and Smelting Corp., Kobe Steel, and Japan Air Lines.

In November 2008, the Government of Japan awarded Professor Picken the Order of the Sacred Treasure for his pioneering research, and outstanding contribution to the promotion of friendship and mutual understanding between Japan and the UK. The honour is normally reserved for Japanese citizens and is a mark of the utmost respect in which Professor Picken is held by the Japanese Government. Although now resident in Scotland, Professor Picken maintains his interests in Japan, as Chair of the Japan Society of Scotland, and through his work with IAFOR. A fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, he lives near Glasgow with his wife and two children.

DAMIN Conference Chair - Georges Depeyrot

Georges Depeyrot is a monetary historian at the French National Center for Scientific Research, (CNRS) in Paris. He began his scientific career in the 1970's studying coin finds and joined the CNRS in 1982. After some years he joined the Center for Historical Research in the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) and is now a professor at the Ecole Normale Superieure.

After his habilitation (1992), he specialized in international cooperative programs that aim to reconsider monetary history in a global approach. He has directed many cooperative programs linking several European countries, including those situated at the continentâ 셲 outer borders (Georgia, Armenia, Russia, and Morocco).

Professor Depeyrot is the author or coauthor of more than one hundred volumes, and is the founding director of the Moneta publishing house, the most important collection of books on the topic of money ( Aside from the continuation of the studies in the field of Ancient coin finds, his current program of study is concentrated on the history of the 19th century monetary unification and crises, in cooperation with European countries, Russia and Japan as part of the DAMIN research group on silver monetary depreciation and international relations (ANR 2011 BSH3 008 01). For more information on DAMIN, please see the website at

Professor Depeyrot is a member of the board of trustees of the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

CfP for our Museological Review journal!

Museological Review (MR), a peer-reviewed journal published annually by the community of PhD students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, is currently seeking contributions that aim to explore the phenomenon of metamorphosis — or change — in the museum. The criteria for submission of papers can be found via the following link (or below):

Deadline: 10th January 2014.

Museological Review, Issue 18: Change in museums Due in Spring 2014
Submission Deadline: 1700 GMT, Friday 10 January 2014.
Museological Review (MR) is a peer-reviewed journal, published annually, by the community of PhD students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, UK. It is aimed at graduate master students, PhD students and early career researchers from around the world and from any museum-related discipline. It is a forum for the exchange of museological ideas and for the development of academic skills.
In relation to this years’ PhD student led ‘Museum Metamorphosis’ conference
Museological Review issue 18 welcomes contributions that seek to explore the phenomenon of metamorphosis — or change — in the museum. Museums are often perceived to arrest time, or go beyond it, yet they are not fixed or static entities. It has often been claimed that in order to become meaningful, museums should
change by addressing and responding to the needs of society. Is this the case?

Papers addressing the following themes and questions are encouraged, but we also welcome new suggestions and creative proposals.
  • How might we define metamorphosis in the context of the museum?
  • Metamorphosis is a concept that resonates across many disciplines, from biology and geology to literary studies. How can such different conceptions of
    metamorphosis be harnessed in order to consider change in the museum?
  • How do museums deal with resistance to change, both internally and
  • What are some of the opportunities and/or risks arising from constant and
    never-ending change in the museum?
  • Historically, how has the museum changed from its early inception?
  • What organisational changes have museum institutions implemented, and
    how has the museum profession responded to these?
  • How have digital and other technological trends impacted upon the way we
    conceive museums and the ways in which museums relate to their
  • Have collections and displays been made relevant for contemporary
    audiences? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • How have museological concepts such as learning, interpretation and
    collection adapted to new contexts?
  • How, and to what extent, are new trends in exhibition-making creating the
    museum anew? How have museum-making processes changed?
  • How can we describe changing understandings of museum space?
  • How has our knowledge of the complex range of visitor experiences shifted?
    What impact has this had?
  • How are museums used to create identity on different levels, and how are museums' identities created in turn by the communities they serve?
  • To what extent are museums an instrument for social change, and to what extent is change forced upon them?
  • How can museums explore and reflect contemporary discussions in society?
The editorial team will contact authors in late January 2014. The editorial process (peer review and editing) of those accepted papers will take place from February to April 2014. The issue is due to be ready and uploaded in the MR webpage by late May 2014.

Information on submission can be found here:

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

December 4th Brown bag - Nick Poole 'The Collections Trust'

We're starting to get a bit more happening around the department these days. The conference last month rather did us all in, but back to our regularly scheduled programme now!

We had another great Brown bag today with Nick Poole from Collections Trust coming up to talk about 'The Collections Trust'. I've been trying to get Nick up to talk to the PhDs for, quite literally, years so it's fantastic that it finally happened. Below is the usual BB write-up for those that follow this blog and the PhDs unable to attend.

This session was a breath of fresh air, informal and to the point and didn't mince a single word! We need more this in the museum sector, for certain. Nick wanted us to know that he believes we need to have a conversation about what we are doing in museums, and be clear what works and what doesn't in order to move forward.

We all introduced ourselves and it was really nice with the turn out; some very varied research and plenty about current issues in the sector. Nick also introduced himself, as he has his own varied background, with linguistics and business and also as a trained portrait painter! It seems that varied and diverse backgrounds such as this are very common in the sector.

Nick started with a short introduction to the Collections Trust, for those of in the audience who weren't aware.

So what is CT?

Collections Trust is a professional organisation, currently based in the Natural History Museum in London, that works with around 23,000 museums around the world (mostly in Europe). They deal with professional issues confronting the museum sector. Nick wanted us to understand that their current focus is very much on making a 'permanent culture shift in museums', so that the focus is not on short-term projects but embedding change from standards in the institution all the way up and throughout the organisation. As Nick said, 'great museums in the future…are well managed, well run.' This is what we want the sector to be.

CT also publishes a professional standard guide, called SPECTRUM for museums. However, Nick pointed out that it is a rather singular view of how you capture and collect knowledge in the institution. The also have several publications on insurance, pest control, risk and environmental control, to name a few other issues.

Nick then moved on to ask a question, as the focus of today was all about questioning things we've taken for granted. 'What does a great museum meant to you?'

Good question. He explained that museum professionals fall into four categories, outlined below:

Objects                               |                               Experiences
Facts                                   |                               Stories

Each person fits into one category, though most will say 'object' if the whole thing is about to go up in flames! However, Nick pointed out that these four categories should not un-reconsilable, but they can go together. Having all of these is what makes museums different from, for example, schools.

It is through collections management that museums to these, by bringing all four categories together.

But what is a 'collection' Nick asks, going back to basics. It is physical, but also partly administrative information, collections-based knowledge, narratives around the objects, digital assets belonging to the objects and physical surrogates (3D printing, something new!) These days we are moving beyond the question of what the collection is - it's all of these. Collections have changed drastically in recent decades, but we have to adapt.

It is through SPECTRUM that CT keeps track of these changes. They have a 13 year plan about what comes next. What a concept! Nick says that, how we did it needs to connect with why we do it, i.e. museum policies and missions need to go hand in hand and work together, not be separate. Collections are dynamic, they need to grow and change (accessioning is fine, but only if you deaccession too!!)

So how do we bring about change in museums? Through people, systems, procedures and information. Over ten years, collections management in museums has become huge and important. CT gives this network a voice while indicating key performance indicators for museums to measure their impact and how they are changing and adapting.

Nick also pointed out that we get sidetracked and bogged down a lot these days. Since the recession hit in 2008, our focus has been on funding. Or, really, lack of funding. This needs to change or we'll never take a step ahead and start to think about the future. Instead of complaining about how much money we don't have, we need to change, to adapt and to move on. We're chocking on money and politics and not making changes for the future of culture. What Nick points out is that it's not a money crisis we're having, it's a crisis of confidence in ourselves and our institutions.

Nick's talk ended here, but we went on to have a lively discussion on all manner of issues. Some are below:

-SPECTRUM is open source, so anyone can change the standards in it and make use of it, commons of professional practice, and goes into a wiki for all to see and use.
-ICOM is not the global movement for change that it should be - at least not in the UK. In other countries without a Museum Association, ICOM does amazing work, but here the two are sort of in tension with each other.
-One should remember that we should hand culture onto the future generation, in a better condition than we found it (not worse!)
-'agents of change' as collections managers - reach out to other functions in the museum and show how they can support them in order to power other things you want the museum to do
           -Collections managers need to be experts on their collections, not just managers
           -in training collections managers they need to have various competencies: ethical or value driven, managerial, professional practice, subject expertise, and soft skills (not least, communication)
-Giasemi asked the question, well where is the digital in that? The answer: Digital is everywhere! It's in all of this.
-we sometimes forget the definition of digital, instead we use it to mean technology, formats, and user behaviours, which are all very different - so when people ask 'where do I put digital?' you need it everywhere, you need to plan to put it in every part of the institution.

A reminder that OpenCulture Conference is next June and will be about reaching out to people from all areas to ask 'what happens when museum stuff happens in other (non-museum) places?' Culture is everywhere, collections are everywhere.

Powerful stuff and hopefully it will spawn some discussion.