Tag Archives: Museum Studies

From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum – a round table discussion

Posted by Helen Moore, Marketing Manager

Ashgate author Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius will be chairing a Round table discussion on 9th September 2015 at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw on the subject of her new book From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum.

From museum critique to the critical museumSince the late nineteenth century museums have been seen as agents of imperialism and colonialism, strongholds of patriarchalism, masculinism, homophobia and xenophobia, and accused both of elitism and commercialism. What can we therefore do to transform museums into places of open, critical discussion, actively supporting social change?

These are the issues tackled in the book From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum, edited by Piotr Piotrowski and Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius (Ashgate, 2015). The Round Table with contributors to the book and art critics at POLIN Museum will be an opportunity to reflect on how museums can get involved in public debates on the most important and controversial topics relevant to today’s society.

The meeting will be dedicated to the memory of Prof. Piotr Piotrowski, one of the editors of From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum and creator of the concept of the Critical Museum. Piotr Piotrowski was a professor at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, visiting professor at many foreign universities, and Director of the National Museum in Warsaw.

Participants of the Round Table include:

  • Jacob Birken – writer and curator, research assistant at the Visual Arts Department, Kunsthochschule Kassel
  • Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett – Chief Curator of POLIN Museum’s core exhibition, University Professor Emerita and Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University
  • John Onians – Professor Emeritus in the School of Art History and World Art Studies, University of East Anglia
  • Alpesh Patel – art critic and curator, Assistant Professor of contemporary art and theory at Florida International University in Miami
  • Jarosław Suchan – art historian and critic, curator, Director of Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi
  • Ewa Toniak – curator, historian, and art critic, pioneer of feminist critique in Poland
  • Krzysztof Żwirblis – artist and curator, initiator of artistic projects carried out in cooperation with local communities

Admission is free and the discussion will be held in Polish and English (simultaneous translation).

More information about the round table discussion

Helen Chatterjee to speak at GEM London Twilight: Museums and wellbeing

Posted by Helen Moore, Marketing Manager

Ashgate author Helen Chatterjee will be taking part in the GEM London autumn twilight series of events. On Wednesday 23rd September she will be talking about her research project Museums on Prescription which seeks to research the processes, practices, value and impact of social prescription schemes in the arts and cultural sector with specific reference to museums.

The event takes place at on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 from 18:30 to 20:00 at UCL Art Museum, London, WC1E 6BT. For more information, and to book tickets, visit the event page.

Museums Health and WelleingHelen’s book Museums Health and Well-Being, co-authored with Guy Noble, published in 2013 set the scene for this research, described at the time as ‘A ground-breaking manifesto for a new movement linking museums and health’ by Constance Classen, Author of The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch

Helen’s next book from Ashgate Engaging the Senses: Object-Based learning in Higher Education, co-authored with Leonie Hannan, explores the use of museum collections as a path to learning for university students. Despite a strong tradition of using lectures as a way of delivering the curriculum, the positive benefits of ‘active’ and ‘experiential learning’ are being recognised in universities at both a strategic level and in daily teaching practice. As museum artefacts, specimens and art works are used to evoke, provoke, and challenge students’ engagement with their subject, so transformational learning can take place. This unique book presents the first comprehensive exploration of ‘object-based learning’ as a pedagogy for higher education in a broad context. An international group of authors offer a spectrum of approaches at work in higher education today.

About the authors: Helen Chatterjee is a Senior Lecturer in Biology in the School of Life and Medical Sciences and Head of Research and Teaching in UCL Public and Cultural Engagement at University College London, UK. Guy Noble is the first appointed Arts Curator of the University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. He is also a trustee of the London Arts in Health Forum. Leonie Hannan is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities at Queen’s University, Belfast. For four years, between 2011 and 2015, she was a Teaching Fellow in Object-Based Learning at University College London, UK.

European Museums in an age of Migrations

Posted by Helen Moore, Marketing Manager

Ashgate recently published the fourth book in an informal series of books made possible by the European Commission-funded ‘MeLa – European Museums in an age of Migrations’ project.

The MeLa Project looks at the effects of the migration of people, objects, knowledge and information on the form and role of the contemporary museum, and aims to identify innovative practices that will drive its evolution.

The MeLa general objectives include:

  • Rethinking the role of museums in building a democratic inclusive European citizenship;
  • Envisioning strategies and exhibition practices to support the new role of museums in an age of migrations;
  • Improving knowledge on cultural heritage diversity and identity representation.

For more information visit http://www.mela-project.eu/

museums migration and identity in europeRelated books from Ashgate:

Museums, Migration and Identity in Europe, Edited by Christopher Whitehead, Katherine Lloyd, Susannah Eckersley and Rhiannon Mason

Cultural networks in migrating heritageCultural Networks in Migrating Heritage, Perla Innocenti

Migrating Heritage, Edited by Perla Innocenti

Postcolonial MuseumThe Postcolonial Museum, Edited by Iain Chambers, Alessandra De Angelis, Celeste Ianniciello, Mariangela Orabona and Michaela Quadraro

Evidencing change: how do we measure social value?

This post is written by Carol Scott, author of Museums and Public Value. It originally appeared on her personal website. Carol Scott is speaking at this year’s American Alliance of Museums annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Evidencing change: how do we measure social value?

This is the title of the session that I am curating with Randi Korn (Founding Director, Randi Korn Associates) and Deborah Schwartz (President, Brooklyn Historical Society) at this year’s American Alliance of Museums annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

The conference theme is the social value of museums. Creating positive social change is forging new directions for 21st century museums. But evidence to prove that change occurs remains elusive and approaches to measuring it are a work in progress.

At the heart of the issue is the question: ‘do museums make a positive difference to society as a whole?’ If we want the answer to be a resounding ‘yes’, how do we translate museum activity into measurable evidence of social value- and- what are the implications for planning and evaluation?

Our session is going to look at these questions through three lenses. Passion is needed to effect social change. Our museums need to resonate with and be relevant to our communities. Deborah Schwartz heads one such museum- where passion and commitment to the community are paramount. But passion needs to be directed. It needs to work in tandem with results-based planning and evaluation measures to achieve its social goals, a subject which is at the heart of Randi Korn’s work.

At a national level, the sector as a whole is challenged to find a narrative to demonstrates that museums create value that makes a difference in the public domain. Do museums contribute to the well-being of populations, their connectedness to one another and to communities, to an active, engaged citizenship? Where is the evidence to prove this and how do we capture it? This is the subject of my presentation.

Our session is on Monday afternoon, the 27th April from 1:45-3:00 p.m. in Room B405 at the Georgia World Congress Center. We look forward to meeting you in Atlanta.

Carol Scott

Ashgate at the Museums Association Conference in Cardiff – we hope to see you there!

Posted by Helen Moore, Marketing Manager

Dymphna Evans and Helen Moore are attending the Museums Association conference at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff this week 9-10th October.

As ever there’s a jam-packed programme of sessions, workshops and keynotes, alongside the exhibition. If you’re attending, visit us on stand 27, see our latest books, meet our authors and chat about any ideas you might have for book proposals. There will be an Ashgate picture quiz with a £100 prize, mint humbugs and huge 50% discounts on display copies, so please come and say ‘hello’.

Even if you can’t attend in person, you can get a sneaky preview of our book display and a 30% discount on a range of Museums Studies, Cultural and Heritage Management books, for a limited period. Take advantage of the 30% discount at http://www.ashgate.com/MACardiff.

New books which will be on display include:

Crowdsourcing our cultural heritageCrowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage, Edited by Mia Ridge, Open University, UK

Museums in the New Mediascape, Transmedia, Participation, Ethics by Jenny Kidd, Cardiff University, UKNew Collecting_Graham PPC_new collecting

New Collecting: Exhibiting and Audiences after New Media Art by Edited by Beryl Graham, University of Sunderland, UK

Look forward to seeing you in Cardiff.

What makes a good museum? The Art Fund knows – a guest post by Amy Jane Barnes

Amy Jane BarnesBy Amy Jane Barnes, University of Leicester

This article was originally published on The Conversation.  Read the original article here.

On July 9, the annual Museum of the Year Prize, run by the Museum Prize Trust and sponsored since 2008 by the Art Fund, awarded £100,000 to the winner: the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which shone in a shortlist of six museums and galleries.

The prize’s stated aim is to highlight the role of museums in society, to encourage more people to visit and to recognise the very best exhibiting institutions in the UK – but pinning down the characteristics of what the Art Fund calls “truly outstanding” museums is harder than it sounds.

As someone who studies museums, I have strong opinions about what makes a good one. To get my vote, a museum has to be prepared to take some risks, to remain intellectually (and physically) accessible while challenging its audiences. It should present different views and ideas and avoid neutrality, or rather, refrain from perpetuating the myth that the museum (and knowledge) is objective – we know it is not.

Museums with these characteristics are inspiring. They will also probably play a role in society that encompasses, as the UK Museums Association puts it, not simply just the collection, preservation and sharing of collections (although these of course remain core roles).

They will also act as catalysts for community cohesion and regeneration, and be places where social issues can be publicly explored.

What matters?

That said, everyone has a different opinion, as do many of my colleagues. When I asked them what makes a good museum, they all had different answers. It should have a clear identity; it should have an environmental conscience and a commitment to sustainability; it should be innovative and involved with its local community.

This was hardly a scientific poll, of course, but the range of answers I got highlights the considerable impact individual preferences and priorities have on perceptions of what a good museum does.

Pinpointing excellence in the museum sector is a tricky business, and is partly (if not entirely) shaped by the concerns and policies of the day. The Art Fund’s five-person judging panel will select the winner for the Museum of Year Prize, from six shortlisted institutions, each judged to have had a “transformative” effect on their users and audiences.

The big six

The Ditching Museum of Art + Craft in East Sussex presents examples of work by artists and craftspeople who formed a community in the village during the 20th century. In recent years, the museum has undergone major renovation and reopened last year. It has been praised by the judges for its “dedicated learning space” and fully accessible site.

The Hayward Gallery, on London’s Southbank, has been dedicated to displaying contemporary art since its creation in 1968. Its touring programme and exhibitions, which focus on “important issues in contemporary artistic practice”, attracted “record-breaking audiences” in 2013.

Opened to the public in May 2013, the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, houses the remains of Henry VIII’s flagship, sunk in 1545 and recovered in 1982. Its selection recognises the engaging and “intensely personal nature” of the museum’s narrative, which provides visitors with “an inimitable insight into Tudor life”.

The Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, Norwich, designed by Norman Foster to house the Sainsbury collection of art and artefacts and opened in 1978, relaunched last year after major renovation. The new SCVA features a redisplay of the permanent collection, and new exhibition and retail spaces.

Similarly, the oldest part of Tate Britain was restructured to bring nine galleries up to contemporary standards, and to allow for the creation of new spaces for schools and learning activities. On reopening, visitors were also able to experience a new chronological display of British art.

And finally, the winner: the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield, which features works by major sculptors from around the world. Among other things, it was highlighted by the judges for “engaging new audiences and providing a unique art experience for hard-to-reach groups” via its learning programmes.

More than money

In addition to the cash prize, Yorkshire Sculpture Park will benefit from an enhanced profile and wider public recognition – and in turn, a more secure future, something the Prize has done for winners before.

Last year’s victor, the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, had been been under threat of closure just six years earlier. But after winning the prize, the gallery experienced a massive increase in visitor numbers, which the local head of cultural services hoped would bring increased funding and stave off the threat of future cuts.

Just as we all came up with different definitions of what makes a “good” museum, I expect me and my colleagues would each have a strong opinion about which of the shortlisted museums most deserves to win the prize. We may not all fully agree with the final decision, but ultimately, anything that gives “immediate national attention” to museums, promotes excellence in the sector, and demonstrates their immense social and cultural value deserves our wholehearted support.

Museum representations of Maoist ChinaThe ConversationAmy Jane Barnes is author of Museum Representations of Maoist China: From Cultural Revolution to Commie Kitsch

Beryl Graham talks at Tate Modern, at the ‘Cultural Value and the Digital’ conference

Posted by Helen Moore, Marketing Manager

Beryl Graham, author of New Collecting: Exhibiting and Audiences after New Media Art gave a talk at the Tate Modern earlier this week, taking part in the conference Cultural value and the digital: practice, policy and theory, the culmination of a research project and series of eight public workshops, to explore how conceptions of cultural value are currently operating and could be examined in relationship to digital media and museums.

This research project focused on Tate’s digital practices and policies as well as the practices of other UK and European Museums that shape contemporary production of culture; a context which is transformed or challenged by current digital technologies and network culture.

New Collecting_Graham PPC_new collectingBeryl Graham’s book New Collecting: Exhibiting and Audiences after New Media Art sets out to explore the many new challenges faced by curators and collectors of new media art

‘This is essential reading for artists, curators, art historians, students and anyone else interested in creating, commissioning, collecting, exhibiting and documenting new media art. The authors provide an excellent overview of the challenges involved in dealing with 21stcentury artworks that are “not easy to collect”.’   Douglas Dodds, Victoria and Albert Museum, UK

‘New forms of art production necessitate new ways of thinking about exhibiting and collecting. This book fills a gap in the field by directly addressing the challenge for curators and audiences alike in exploring ways that do not simply replicate old models but redefine possibilities of what is collected, how, and for whom.’   Joasia Krysa, Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark

Beryl Graham is Professor of New Media Art, at the University of Sunderland, UK and co-founder and editor of CRUMB, the resource for curators of new media art. She curated the international exhibition Serious Games for the Laing and Barbican art galleries, and has also worked with The Exploratorium, San Francisco, and San Francisco Camerawork.  Beryl Graham has presented papers at conferences including Decoding the Digital (Victoria and Albert Museum).