9 April 2018

Exhibition: Looted Art? The Benin Bronzes

Exhibition Photograph: Michaela Hille

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG), Germany                          
February 16th 2018
With three bronzes from Benin, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) is opening another chapter of its exhibition series Looted Art? Provenance Research on the Collections of the MKG, an integral part of the visitor’s tour of the museum. MKG has researched the origin story of these three Benin bronzes and also examined the role played by the museum’s founding director, Justus Brinckmann  in trading in such objects. The research results will be published. The bronzes are not considered works of art according to the European understanding of the term. In the culture of their home country, the Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria, the objects function to help lend people an identity. This circumstance demands that they be presented in an appropriate setting, which the MKG is not able to do in the context of its collections. After their exhibition at MKG, the bronzes will therefore be passed on to the Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg. This museum provides with its African collection and its objects from the Benin culture a fitting context for a respectful treatment of these works.

Today there is no question anymore that these bronzes constitute looted art. In early 1897, a British delegation set out for Benin City to demand compliance with a trade agreement. A warning that this was an unfavorable time for a visit due to the Benin cultural rites being celebrated during that season fell on deaf ears. The delegation became embroiled in a skirmish and only a few members survived. In response, the British government launched a “punitive expedition.” The troops took Benin City in February 1897. In the royal palace, they seized bronze reliefs, shrines with bronze objects, and ivory, trading the items locally or bringing them back to London. Justus Brinckmann was the first German museum director to obtain bronzes from Benin and encouraged other museums to follow suit, sparking a brisk trade in these objects via Hamburg. In the port city with its trading companies based in Africa, Brinckmann enjoyed a prime location and acted as an intermediary. Of some 50 bronzes that passed through his hands, only three pieces remained at MKG. The largest contingent became part of the collection of the Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg, and other objects were resold. With the proceeds from these sales, Brinckmann funded the acquisition by MKG of the Relief Panel with Three Dignitaries (1575–1600) and the Relief Panel with a Battle Scene (1600–1625). Museum benefactor Theodor Heye financed the purchase of the Head of an Oba (1600–1625).

5 April 2018

SWICH Conference: Exhibiting Cultures, Exhibiting Empire, Exhibiting Europe

11th July 2018 – 13th July 2018

King's College, University of Cambridge

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

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

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

15 March 2018

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

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


12 March 2018

  Re‐imagining the Museum in the Global Contemporary


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

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

Tibetan Monastery Collections and Museums: Traditional Practices and Contemporary Issues

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

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

Applicants will be notified by 15 June 2018.


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

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

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


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

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

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


Free with admission to Lotherton