New Seminar on 3 June: Museums Security: New Perspectives

Please join us for another in our series of research seminars:

Title: Museums Security: New Perspectives

Speaker: Suzie Thomas, University of Helsinki, Finland

Wednesday 3 June
1 – 2pm
Room 1.06, 18 Windsor Terrace
All welcome

Museums are an integral part of the cultural life of societies, with  collections that may be of not only national but international  significance. As well as intangible value, many objects may also have  considerable financial value, and pose a temptation to thieves.  Despite this, it has been noted that many museums have what can only be described as inadequate security provisions. In recent years, high profile art thefts from museums have only highlighted this situation.  Furthermore, a range of other criminal activities, such as vandalism and other anti-social behaviours can also adversely affect museums and their surroundings, which in turn impacts sense of place and visitor experience. We also know that situational precipitators (for example
graffiti or vandalism that has been left unrepaired) can act as a cue that crime is accepted in an area – the small scale offences, in fact, can directly contribute to larger scale crimes, according for example to the Broken Windows Theory. In this paper I outline the interdisciplinary research with which researchers at the University of Helsinki and Loughborough University are currently involved, which aims to shed light on the specific security challenges faced by museums, covering our research methods and the emerging findings.

Dr Suzie Thomas is University Lecturer in Museology at the University
of Helsinki, Finland. She has previously worked at the University of
Glasgow and the Council for British Archaeology, and completed her PhD
in Heritage Studies at ICCHS in 2009.

Guest Post: Niki Black on the African Heritage Challenges Conference

Today’s post is by Niki Black, ICCHS PhD researcher. Niki’s research focuses on investigating the impact which small-scale, rural festivals may have upon the social sustainability of their host communities. More info about Niki’s research can be found here. More info about the conference can be found here.

The African Heritage Challenges Conference, Cambridge

Just back from attending the African Heritage Challenges Conference (15 – 17 May) held at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), Cambridge University. The focus of the conference was on sustainability and development in African heritage with particularly attention being drawn by speakers to the potential contradiction of pairing heritage and development. This linked to another recurring discussion point of the conference, the contestable nature of the definition of heritage. This was interesting in considering if there are differences between the perception of heritage in African countries and between these countries and the West (in other words, the authorised discourse).

In the discussion which followed it was considered that, although on the surface there may appear to be very different issues at stake, many of the underlying considerations regarding heritage are similar (ownership, power, belonging for eg). Although some disagreement occurred between delegates regarding forms of heritage discourse, the majority of speakers appeared to confer on the selection of heritage and its subsequent management as needing to be led by the custodians of the heritage. As to considerations of whether heritage could contribute to sustainability, as long as heritage is seen as a concept of something ‘living’and adaptable, then it can be a positive contributor to sustainable development.

New Seminar for June: Open-air museums – a destination in vogue for public art in urban districts

open-air museums

Please join us for another in our series of research seminars:

Open-air museums: a designation in vogue for public art in urban districts

Speaker: J. Pedro Lorente, Department of Art History, University of Saragossa

Wednesday 17 June
1 – 2pm
Room 1.06, 18 Windsor Terrace
All welcome

Art collections permanently exhibited in public spaces are sometimes called ‘open air museums”. This notion has been constructed over time, building on historical precedents and in dialectic interaction with other related concepts like ‘sculpture gardens’. The result is not a clear-cut definition, but a changing perception, carrying diverse connotations according to different languages and cultural contexts. The modern paradigm was set by Middelheim Open Lucht Museum created in 1950 by the municipality of Antwerp in a suburban park, emulated in the French-speaking University of Liège, since the creation in 1977 of a Musée en Plein Air in the campus of Sart Tilman; some features were slighly different in another famous instance, the Musée de sculpture à plein air de la Ville de Paris, inaugurated in 1980 on a riverbank between Île Saint-Louis and the Gare d’Austerlitz. But the triumph of a post-modern return to the city centre was heralded by the founding in 1972-79 of the polemical Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre in Madrid. It’s influence has been enormous in Spain and other Latin countries, where many collections of public art gathered as part of urban regeneration processes have been proudly labeled as museums. Are they?

New book by ICCHS staff- now available!

As part of the EC-funded MeLa project on European Museums in an Age of Migrations, ICCHS researchers have published a number of books. The most recent of these is just out. It is entitled Museums, Migration and Identity in Europe and it is at the intersection between museum studies and migration studies. With ever increasing attention to migration both in political and cultural spheres, the book is a landmark contribution to a critical field of study and practice.

The imperatives surrounding museum representations of place have shifted from the late eighteenth century to today. The political significance of place itself has changed and continues to change at all scales, from local, civic, regional to national and supranational. At the same time, changes in population flows, migration patterns and demographic movement now underscore both cultural and political practice, be it in the accommodation of ‘diversity’ in cultural and social policy, scholarly explorations of hybridity or in state immigration controls. 

The book investigates the historical and contemporary relationships between museums, places and identities. It brings together contributions from international scholars, academics, practitioners from museums and public institutions, policymakers, and representatives of associations and migrant communities to explore all these issues.

Here’s what key scholars in the field think of the book:

‘This volume is a timely and welcome contribution to the growing literature on the role of museums representing migration. With essays blending theory and practice, and a focus on place and belonging, it offers insights into the politics of representation and the conceptualisation of place and identity in European museums – and beyond. It is a valuable resource to anyone working on these issues.’
Laurence Gouriévidis, Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France

‘Migration has emerged as one of the most productive areas for museum studies in recent years. This is not only because of the increase in numbers of museums about migration but also because these have the potential to raise far-reaching questions about the role of museums in contemporary society. Through its wide range of case studies from Europe, this volume makes a significant contribution to highlighting the diversity of cases and of approaches taken, as well as to how we might analyse such museums.’
Sharon Macdonald, University of York, UK.

Details of the book are available at http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472425188

ICCHS students and associates interested in buying the book with a 50% discount should contact Chris Whitehead for a discount code.

World Heritage: International Day for Heritage and Sites at Housesteads Roman Fort

Join us this Saturday, 18 April, for a day of special events at Housesteads Roman Fort. There will be special talks, tours and activities, including a talk by Peter Stone.

Peter worked for UNESCO as part of the team that produce the World Heritage Education Project and kit, ‘World Heritage in Young Hands’, in the 1990s. He was also the Chair of the Hadrian’s Wall management plan committee. Peter’s talk will focus on the meaning of a World Heritage Site in the wider sense. Why are they classed with such importance and what is their importance in the wider world and in relation to the United Nations.

For more information on events of the day, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/mgbx8ab

Reflecting on REF2014 and beginning to think about REF 2020

Karen_Ross_ICCHS_MACS_REF_reportback_1April15

ICCHS and Media and Cultural Studies (MACS) were delighted to receive feedback from Professor Karen Ross (Northumbria University) on the REF2014 sub-panel 36: Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management. ICCHS and MACS made a joint submission to this panel. Karen was member of the sub-panel.

Karen did some ‘crystal ball gazing’ and provided us with some of her thoughts about how REF2020 might shape up. For example, she suggested that the proportion of profile dedicated to impact might increase but that outputs will remain as the primary indicator. Karen also emphasised the importance of strategising now on potential impact case studies, so that we can generate the necessary supporting data in order to tell ‘good stories’ about our studies. An important part of the ‘good story’ is to create strong linkages between the underlying research and impact! Ultimately, however, it is imperative that we pay close attention to the criteria and guidance provided by HEFCE. Thanks for this Karen – it was extremely useful!

Protecting Cultural Property During War

Professor Peter Stone OBE, Head of Newcastle University’s School of Arts and Cultures, has been exploring what we tolerate as acceptable and, crucially, unacceptable practice towards protecting cultural property during war.

Video: Protecting cultural property during war

 

His research has investigated, within the context of jus in bello, the way in which we wage war and, by implication, the very nature of war itself. More information about Peter’s research can be found here: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/impact/protecting-cultural-property.php