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Interview with Clémence Mathieu, Director, International Carnival and Mask Museum, Belgium

Dana Andrew, Executive Director of ICOM UK, interviewed Clémence Mathieu, Director of the International Carnival and Mask Museum in Binche, Belgium.

 

Clémence Mathieu Photo (c) Frederic Raevens

Clémence Mathieu
Photo (c) Frederic Raevens

Would you tell us about the International Carnival and Mask Museum in Binche, Belgium.

The International Carnival and Mask Museum possess a collection which is unique of its kind and internationally recognized. With more than 10,000 ethnographic pieces, it has become a real research and documentation centre preserving masked traditions from all over the world.

Our collections are composed mostly of masks and costumes, which are used in a great diversity of rituals. It is the diversity of the mask’s functions that make it so interesting. Masked rituals are constantly evolving in order to adapt to society’s demands. This adaptation is a condition for their survival, and this is very important to show and explain in a museum such as our institution. It is one of the main reasons for collecting in our museum. Collecting is done in order to show the diversity of the human communities and their beliefs in spiritual or invisible forces. As the tangible testimony of an intangible tradition, the mask (and by extension, the costume) is definitely linked with the identity of the person wearing it but also, on a larger scale, with the identity of the community. In that sense, the ritual and the mask are universal, since they connect people to their roots and to the meaning of their presence on Earth. Hence the interest of learning how to preserve, collect and present these items in a better way in our museums.

Permanent exhibition 'Masks from all over the World'

‘Masks from all over the World’

The museum has two permanent sections. One is dedicated to ‘The masks from all over the world’ which invites the visitor on a captivating journey across the five continents. The other section is an ‘Interpretation Centre on the Carnival of Binche’, which opened in November 2018 and allows visitors to immerse themselves in the heart of this unique folklore recognized by UNESCO and to discover the carnival of Binche, its history, its actors, its customs and traditions by means of an immersive and multi-sensory experience.

Permanent exhibition: 'Interpretation Centre on the Carnival of Binche'

‘Interpretation Centre on the Carnival of Binche’

The link between carnivals and traditional masked rituals is made between the two sections, since European carnivals have to be considered as masked rituals which have very ancient pagan roots and are therefore comparable to the traditional masked rituals from Africa, Asia, America and Oceania.

Moreover, the museum shows two to three temporary exhibitions per year, allowing browsing various topics, mixing traditional and contemporary approaches. The museum also sometimes organises exhibitions abroad.

 

What does your role as the Director of the International Carnival and Mask Museum involve?

As the director/curator of the International Carnival and Mask Museum of Binche, I am responsible for the preservation and the development of our collections. This means that the collections have to be preserved on a day-to-day basis, and stored in the best possible conditions. This can be a challenge since the museum is located in an 18th-century building, which was previously a college.

The development of the collections concerns new acquisitions. Our research fields are the ethnology and the anthropology, two sciences which are deeply involved in the importance of the ethics of acquisitions. The way we acquire and present the collection pieces is crucial and has to be made in a way which respects the populations linked with those items. Since these objects are the symbols of the culture and the identity of some populations, it is very important to learn how to collect them, show them and explain their history in the most professional and durable way.

The scientific planning of the exhibitions is also part of my tasks, including the development of collaborations with other museums and researchers in the field of ethnology and anthropology. This is a very exciting part since it can lead to the creation of new exchanges, co-curated exhibitions, participation in conferences or workshops, editing catalogues etc.

The management of the team is also part of my role, and has to do with the day-to-day organisation of the museum, such as making team meetings, planning the work of each person, organising the budget of the museum, following the administrative process of the museum, etc.

 

What projects are you and your colleagues currently working on?

We are currently preparing an interactive visit of the new permanent section on the carnival of Binche, with, among others, a 360° movie.

We are also launching on 22 June 2019 an exhibition called ‘Happy Heads‘ presenting the work of two contemporary artists, Benoit+Bo. They are reinterpreting paper maché masks used traditionally in the lantern festival of Chinese New Year by taking pictures of people (from Belgium and other countries) in their private or professional context with those masks. The exhibition juxtaposes their works with our collections in such a way that a link is created between the past (the traditional ritual) and the present (the view of this ritual by contemporary artists).

We are also preparing an exhibition for October 2019 called ‘Ticuna. People from Amazonia’, on traditional Indian Ticuna people living in the Amazon in Brazil. This is the occasion for the museum to show an exceptional collection of about hundred pieces collected over the last 15 years, through a Belgian field ethnologist, Daniel de Vos, who created a very special relationship with these people. Thanks to his research, we can show and explain the mythology, beliefs and masked rituals of the Ticuna. Movies and pictures will complete the exhibition. One of the Ticuna will come for the opening of the exhibition and will deliver a speech on his community and the difficulties the Ticuna encounter to preserve their traditions in the actual context of the modernisation and the continuous fight they have to lead in order to preserve their territories.

 

In 2019, what challenges do you think the International Carnival and Mask Museum is facing? Is this very different from the challenges affecting the wider museum sector in Belgium?

Among others, the task of a museum is to exhibit and preserve its collections, material by their very nature. Nevertheless, when a whole intangible knowledge is added to these objects, it is necessary to wonder how the museum can paint a reliable and representative picture of it, if only it’s possible.

As the tangible testimony of an intangible tradition, the mask (and by extension, the costume) is definitely linked with the identity of the person wearing it but also, on a larger scale, with the identity of the community. In that sense, it might be very delicate to present in the best and most expressive way those pieces in the day-to-day museums and to reflect their context and history in a dynamic and clear way.

The museums in Belgium, and on a broader sense, everywhere else in the world encounter great challenges regarding their collections and they have to adapt themselves in the day-to-day world. The question about the museum’s role is a difficult matter. It is a matter of preservation? Contextualisation? Witnessing? Bringing to life? Making it accessible? We must ask ourselves if the museum is efficient as far as its message(s) and its publics are concerned. Do we have to allow museums to evolve? If yes, in what way?

 

What is your future vision for the museum?

Museums must be ready to change their methods and enlarge their functions in order to evolve with the changes in our societies.

I do believe that museums have to re-define themselves in order to continue to be alive. Therefore, we are organising many different activities on the sides of our exhibitions, in order to propose to the public that they discover the museum in a ludic and interactive way. I think that museums have to integrate new technologies, but a balance has to be found with the artefacts (the collections). Indeed, the real objects have to stay the main focal point of a museum, but new technologies can be a way to interest people and bring more information and more life to those objects. In the specific context of intangible heritage and rituals, it makes even more sense.

The museum has to be alive, through various activities, and to attract different kinds of public, from children to adults. One of the ways I found to ‘get the museum out of its walls’ is, for example, to bring some people from a specific ritual tradition somewhere else and let them make their own carnival or ritual in the museum and in the streets of the city. This leads to a real exchange between communities. We did it already with a group from Sardegna (Italy), and a group from Dunkerque (France) and it was a great success.

I also think that the integration of local communities in the museum’s life is crucial and that it can be made in different ways. For example, in the new section dedicated to the carnival of Binche, I proposed to the Binche communities involved in the carnival to bring us their photographic archives. We propose to display a selection of these archives on a tactile screen in the section. In this way, the content can be frequently renewed and the community feels involved in the museum.

I also think that it is very important to stay aware of what’s going on in other museums and other countries, in order to keep our mind open and be ready for new challenges and new collaborations.

 

ICOM UK would be pleased to connect any members with the International Carnival and Mask Museum in Binche, Belgium.  Email us at uk.icom.museum@gmail.com

Visit the museum’s website for more information http://museebinche.be/

Creative Europe supports UK culture despite Brexit uncertainty

This article was first published online in Arts Professional: https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/news/creative-europe-supports-uk-culture-despite-brexit-uncertainty?utm_source=Weekly-News&utm_medium=email&utm_content=nid-211413&utm_campaign=17th-May-2019

UK cultural organisations have been urged to “continue applications as normal” as negotiations over leaving the EU continue.

The UK creative sector saw EU investment of nearly £14 million (€15.9 million) last year, a new report from Creative Europe reveals.

The figure represents 9% of the total funds distributed.

The Creative Europe in the UK report includes details of €3.5 million of funding through the EU’s Culture funding strand and €12.2 million through its MEDIA strand for the film, TV and video game sector.

It highlights that 96 UK companies and organisations received funding from the EU body.

Co-operation

‘Cooperation Projects’ – encouraging collaborative working with organisations across Europe – received Culture grants totalling €2.8 million, with 42 UK organisations benefitting.

This represents a 24% rise in successful UK Cooperation Project applications compared to 2017. Out of all applications for this strand, 31% had at least one UK partner.

The UK organisations that were funded include Eclipse Theatre in Sheffield. Together with partners in Portugal and the Netherlands it received €155,000 for its ‘Slate: Black. Arts. World.’ project, which explores visibility and mobility of black and ethnic minority artists.

Other organisations that received Culture funding include National Theatre of Wales, Creative Carbon Scotland, and Liverpool Biennial.

EU funding for UK film included €5.9 million to support the distribution of 63 films in Europe. Among the productions supported were Beast, On Chesil Beach and Aardman Animations’ Early Man.

Challenging time

Agnieszka Moody, Director of Creative Europe Desk UK, said: “The 2018 report shows that UK producers, arts organisations, festivals and projects have been able to maintain their commitment to working with Europe during what has been a challenging time for cross-border collaboration.

“During a year of uncertainty, Creative Europe’s funding of €15.9 million has strengthened continued engagement, supported project delivery and developed ongoing European relations.”

Despite the date and shape of Brexit remaining unresolved, Creative Europe is encouraging UK organisations to continue to apply for European funding.

It stresses that “the UK remains eligible to participate in Creative Europe” and that “UK lead and partner organisations, and other European partners” should “continue applications as normal for forthcoming Creative Europe calls during the extension of Article 50 period.”

Brexit advice

Advice on the Creative Europe Desk UK website provides guidance in the event of either a deal or no deal Brexit.

It states that the DCMS has advised that if there is a deal between the EU and UK, UK organisations will:

  • Be able to apply for the forthcoming Creative Europe MEDIA and Culture sub-programme calls
  • Have the same rights and obligations as other countries up to the end of the current Creative Europe programme, which runs to 2020
  • Be entitled to receive funding until the end of their projects, even if they run beyond 2020.

In the event of a no deal Brexit, the situation is less clear.

In January this year, the European Commission stated that it will continue to make payments in 2019 to UK beneficiaries for “contracts signed and decisions made before 30 March 2019.”

However, this is “on condition that the UK honours its obligations under the 2019 budget and that it accepts the necessary audit checks and controls”.

Cultural Protection Fund supports the Levantine Foundation Conservation Field Campaigns at Deir Al-Surian, Egypt

Preserving Egyptian Coptic Heritage through Conservation, Scholarship and Educational Dissemination

The Levantine Foundation is delighted to announce a grant from the British Council’s £30 million Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Fifty-one grants were issued to support projects in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Levantine Foundation was established in 2002 by Elizabeth Sobczynski. Its founding purpose is to preserve cultural heritage in the Near East. Its first major project is at the Deir al-Surian (monastery) in Egypt. During numerous conservation field campaigns based at the monastery, the collection has been re-housed, surveyed and the conservation of different language codices and fragments have been completed in collaboration with conservation professionals from England and Europe and international scholars in Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic and Syriac from various universities around the world.

The grant will enable a team of five book conservators to spend the month of May and November 2019 at the Deir al-Surian. Among the codices earmarked for conservation are texts dating from 6th -13th century in Syriac, Coptic and Christian Arabic. They will be digitally documented before, during and after treatment and data saved in a bespoke Deir al-Surian database. The new librarian Fr. Amoon will be directly involved in preparation for and follow up to each campaign, as well as in outreach activities.

Three novices/local interns selected in collaboration with the Monastery will receive training throughout the campaign in aspects of conservation, including making archival boxes for vulnerable codices.

In December 2019 a seminar and reception will be hosted at the residence of HM British Ambassador to Egypt in Cairo. The forum will give the Foundation an opportunity to review work undertaken in the library, to highlight its significance, to share its conservation achievements to invited guests and to formally thank the scholars and the conservators who have generously assisted with the cataloguing and the working campaigns at Deir al-Surian.

The large number of manuscripts and fragments that remain in the monastery represent an inheritance of inestimable scholarly value and form an essential part of the cultural heritage for the World.

The Levantine Foundation has benefited from many partnerships and collaborations with international scholars. This year it is Dr. Yury Arzhanov, Division of Byzantine Research, Institute for Medieval Research, Austrian Academy of Science; Prof. Dr. Alessandro Bausi and Dr. Denis Nosnitsin, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Hiob-Ludolf-ZentrumfürÄthiopistik, Hamburg University; Professor Stephen J. Davis, Department of Religious Studies, Yale University and Associate Research Professor Hania Sholkamy, The Social Research Centre and Teaching Faculty in the Sociology, Egyptology, Anthropology Department, the American University in Cairo.

The first ever catalogue of the Syriac Collection was published by Peeters Publishers in 2014 and researched by Dr. Sebastian Brock of Oxford University and Professor Lukas Van Rompay of Duke University USA.

Useful websites:
www.thelevantinefundation.org.uk
www.britishcouncil.org/arts/culture-development/cultural-protection-fund
Austrian Academy of Science:  https://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/byzantine-research/staff/
Hiob-Ludolf-Zentrum: https://www.aai.uni-hamburg.de/en/ethiostudies.html

Gutted and broke: Brazil’s National Museum pleads for money

This article was first published online at https://www.france24.com/en/20190507-gutted-broke-brazils-national-museum-pleads-money

Brazil’s devastated National Museum is broke and cannot afford storage for artifacts rescued from the ashes of the gutted building, its director has said.

In a desperate plea for more funding, Alexander Kellner warned “there will be no more National Museum” in Rio de Janeiro unless the education ministry coughs up some cash.

“We urgently need one million reais ($250,000) to be able to breathe,” Kellner told reporters as the museum presented pieces from its Egyptian collection that survived the 2 September 2018 fire.

“We are having difficulties in the daily running of our institution — professors don’t have places to work, we don’t have space to store pieces that we rescued. We can’t just leave them on the ground.

“Without the education ministry, there will be no more National Museum.”

A faulty air conditioning system sparked a fire that gutted Latin America’s main natural history museum, destroying most of its collection.

After the blaze, the education ministry released the equivalent of $2.5 million for emergency works to preserve the building’s facade. But other public funds have not yet been disbursed.

Kellner told AFP last month that the museum had received the equivalent of $280,000 in donations — a fraction of the more than $950,000 donated for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

The total cost of restoring the National Museum will reportedly be around 100 million reais.

The blaze wiped out much of the museum’s collection, dealing a hard blow to the main showcase of Brazil’s anthropological heritage and history.

Employer Toolkit: EU Settlement Scheme

The Government has published a toolkit aimed at employers of EU nationals who may be interested in applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Citizens of EU and EEA countries plus Switzerland need to apply if they wish to preserve the rights they currently have post-Brexit.

There will be no change to the rights of EU citizens living in the UK until 30 June 2021.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-employer-toolkit

ICOM UK AGM, 5.30pm, Thursday 27 June 2019, London

The 2019 ICOM UK AGM will take place at 5.30pm on Thursday 27 June at the Barbican in London.

In addition to AGM business and updates from ICOM UK, members will have an opportunity to network over drinks and snacks, share their latest international projects and collaborations in short presentations, learn about the next round of travel grants and bursaries, and visit the Barbican Art Gallery’s latest exhibition.

We will also convene a meeting for Kyoto 2019 delegates to discuss coordinated activity during the conference in Japan.

The AGM programme, registration link and further information will be emailed to ICOM UK members on Friday 24 May and we will provide further updates in the ICOM UK news next week.

ICOM UK joins ‘Culture Declares Emergency’

ICOM UK joins other cultural organisations in declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency https://sites.google.com/view/culturedeclaresemergency/home. The ‘Culture Declares Emergency’ campaign launched on 3rd April 2019 with the aim of working with and supporting communities and local government in tackling this Emergency.

As representative of the global museum community, the vision of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) is a world where the importance of natural and cultural heritage is universally valued. Today, more than ever, museums and their communities face unique challenges related to social, economic, and ecological issues. While serving as witnesses of the past and guardians of humanity’s treasures for future generations, museums play a key role in development through education and democratisation.

Museums offer an existing global infrastructure. They are uniquely placed to facilitate collective action by building networks, raising public awareness, and supporting research and knowledge creation. They can enhance sustainability and climate change education by working with and empowering communities to bring about change to ensure an habitable planet, social justice and equitable economic exchanges for the long term.

Through its Working Group on Sustainability, established in 2018, ICOM aims to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement across its range of activities, and to support its members and member museums to contribute constructively in upholding the Sustainable Development Goals and towards climate change adaptation and mitigations.

ICOM UK now commits to the aims of ‘Culture Declares Emergency’. This includes communicating issues relating to climate change truthfully to enable citizens to understand the scale and urgency of systemic change. ICOM UK will work towards reducing our carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and assist our partners in reducing their emissions. ICOM UK will do what is possible to enable dialogue and expression amidst our communities about how the Emergency will affect them and the changes required.

Pest treatment using Nitrogen gas in the cultural heritage sector

Deterioration of cultural heritage objects from pest infestation is an ever-present problem. In recent decades, museums and cultural heritage institutions in Europe have turned away from potentially hazardous chemical pest control to an approach of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

IPM uses, amongst a combination of other methods, anoxia or modified/controlled atmospheres for treatment with a very low oxygen atmosphere in a chamber (static) or tent (dynamic) with the aim to eliminate insect infestations. Different modified/controlled atmospheres include inert gases (for example nitrogen, helium, argon and carbon dioxide), where nitrogen is the most frequently used gas.

The displacement of atmospheric oxygen is a well-established method. There is no equivalent alternative in terms of preservation care and human health, for both staff and visitors of cultural heritage institutions. The procedure is included in the European Standard EN 16790:2016 Conservation of Cultural Heritage – Integrated Pest Management for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

Many institutions have invested in their own treatment chambers for anoxic disinfestation, for both prophylactic and acute pest elimination. Unfortunately, with the extension of a mandatory registration of on-site generated nitrogen from September 2017 by REGULATION (EU) No 528/2012 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 22 May 2012, concerning the making available on the market and use of biocidal products (Biocidal Products Regulation, BPR), these facilities can no longer be operated legally.

As a result, the cultural heritage institutions are faced with the acute danger that cultural heritage may be damaged or irretrievably lost, or that traditional organo-chlorine biocides may experience an undeserved revival. Another alternative to nitrogen anoxia, carbon dioxide anoxia, is no longer supported on grounds of sustainability.

The nitrogen ban is not justified on grounds of health aspects. It is bad for the cultural heritage conservation community to have less choices for treatment interventions, with the anoxic treatment being among the most compatible with many materials and objects.

There are inconsistencies within the EU, for example the food industry has permission to use nitrogen gas for storage and preservation purposes, whereas the use of the same gas as a pest treatment is now not permitted.

Furthermore, different EU member states have interpreted the new directive in different ways, resulting in the institutions of at least two member states being permitted by their national authorities to continue to use nitrogen gas for pest treatment purposes, whereas in other member states the national authorities have been more restrictive in response to the new BPR.

In recent months, the confusion caused by the BPR, and the concern for cultural heritage at risk from pest damage, has created considerable debate at regional, national and international levels across the EU. A large number of professional heritage bodies from many different member states have published statements, lobbied national governments and written to EU institutions with the aim of repealing the classification of nitrogen as a biocidal active substance across the European Union.

On 12th March 2019, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) released a joint statement and called for the immediate repeal of the classification of nitrogen as a biocidal active substance for cultural heritage preservation applications across the EU (https://icom.museum/en/news/joint-statement-call-icom-icomos/). Jointly with our parent body, ICOM UK advocate for a solution in which the use of nitrogen for this specific purpose in cultural heritage preservation is ratified for the entire European Union, based on a repeal of the classification of nitrogen as a biocidal active substance.

International co-curating through Skype – how Manchester Museum created its Jallianwala Bagh massacre exhibition

This article was written by Adrian Murphy and first appeared in Museums+ Heritage Advisor online https://advisor.museumsandheritage.com/features/international-co-curating-skype-manchester-museum-created-jallianwala-bagh-massacre-exhibition/

Manchester Museum has recently opened its latest major exhibition, Jallianwala Bagh 1919: Punjab under Siege, which has seen it create an international partnership with The Partition Museum in Amritsar, India to curate the exhibition by using Skype and Google Drive

Using the internet, the two museums have managed to develop the six-month exhibition for under £30,000 and have demonstrated how an international collaboration can flourish through a series of scheduled video calls, online file transfers and the use of shared online documents

Manchester Museum’s exhibition is inspired by and uses information and images from The Partition Museum’s Punjab Under Siege – The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Centenary (1919 -2019) exhibition, which opened on 11 August and is the result of its director, Esme Ward’s visit to the museum last year where she met the museum team.

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, which took place on 13 April 1919, is said to be a turning point in the fate of the British Empire after troops of the British Indian Army, under the command of Acting Brig-Gen Reginald Dyer, fired rifles into a crowd of Punjabis who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab resulting in the recorded deaths of 379 and more than 1,100 injured.

Last month Prime Minister Theresa May stated the British government’s ‘deep regret’ for the massacre calling it a “shameful scar on British Indian history”. However, no formal apology has ever been made.

Now the massacre is being remembered at Manchester Museum in an exhibition that explores how the British came to be in India, what led to the massacre, and its ramifications for the British Empire.

Manchester Museum is currently building a new South Asia Gallery in partnership with the British Museum and its director, Esme Ward received a grant from the British Council to visit India and pursue a youth exchange programme between Bangaluru and Manchester.

However, just before she left in late summer last year she met author, Lady Kishwar Desai at the British Library, who was involved in developing The Partition Museum, which opened in August 2017. Desai, whose books include, Jallianwala Bagh, 1919: The Real Story on which the exhibition is based, told Ward to visit the museum in Amritsar and see the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre displays.

“And of course, when she said it, I knew that this would be something we could explore as Manchester is commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre this year and Jallianwala Bagh happened 100 years later in 1919,” says Ward.

“I was thinking how museums in the UK could build different relationships with museums internationally and what that looks like. Often this revolves around a touring exhibition or an international exchange programme, but that’s only individuals, that’s not building a relationship between museums. So I travelled to Amritsar to visit the Partition Museum and meet the people there and will now build a partnership for the longer term, in relation to our new South Asia Gallery, which will open in 2021.”

But she says they couldn’t just take the show as it was in Amritsar to Manchester as much of it was about being in that place and being able to visit the garden and memorial.

This led to the idea of a six-month co-curation of a new version of the exhibition that would be facilitated via Skype. Ward says that both Manchester and Amritsar are two cities deeply affected by colonialism in very different ways and this was a chance to show a global perspective rarely explored.

As a sector, Ward says museums are extraordinary well placed to do this work. “Very early on I was thinking about the skills we needed to curate this exhibition and I asked someone who had never curated a major show before but who is an educator and extremely good at collaborations and public engagement.”

She chose Catherine Lumb, who has spent her career working on programmes with secondary school children to understand some of the ethics and issues around museum collections.

Lumb was introduced over Skype to Priyanka Seshadri, The Partition Museum’s Museum Associate for Curation, in late November and the two of them had regular online meetings.

“This was a real challenge but an exciting one – international partnerships can be difficult –and I was concerned about not being able to go over there before the exhibition and see everything and meet people was going to be a barrier, but it actually hasn’t been,” she says.

Lumb says that all The Partition Museum exhibition text was put into Google Drive and her and Seshadri were able to edit and make live comments and save changes. The space at Manchester Museum is smaller than its Amritsar counterpart, which means that they condensed the text from more than 5,000 words to 1,500.

“All of the content the Partition Museum had we went through week-by-week, section-by-section. Pryanka put all of the photography and images and audiovisual content for each of the sections on Google Drive. We decided which bits were vital, which we could lose and which bits we could condense and re-edit.”

Manchester Museum has also been able to use The Partition Museum’s witness accounts from the Disorders Inquiry Committee report on the massacre. Some of those accounts have been recorded in Hindi by The Partition Museum and are played in the background of the exhibition. They have also used interviews from descendant that will be played on screen, which have been subtitled into English by The Partition Museum.

“We also have versions of some of the court lines read out by actors from Dyer’s interview, where he tries to explain some of the rationale for why he decided to do what he did.

The exhibition, says Lumb, is a capsule of what is on show at The Partition Museum and they are hoping to digitally support the content so visitors will have access to the wider resources.

“I think when the international collaboration was first mentioned I found it quite intimidating but myself and Pryanka found it a lot easier than we thought it would be,” said Lumb. “Skype has been a fantastic resource and being able to have conversations, as much as the telephone is a fab invention, and being able to see each other’s faces and talk face-to-face has been far more beneficial and it something that we will utilise a lot more in the future.”

Leading up to the launch of Jallianwala Bagh 1919: Punjab under Siege exhibition on 11 April, Lumb also conducted a video conference with Seshadri’s team and her own visitor team so they would feel confident talking about the exhibition’s content.

“So, it has been a really enlightening experience seeing the possibilities of this process. Obviously there are a few things we learnt along the way with regards to being very clear about deadlines, especially given the time difference. And also that we gave each other enough time to respond to requests. I think on the whole this is going to encourage us to do more partnerships like this and I would encourage other museum colleagues to not be afraid of developing their own partnership in this way.”

Manchester Museum has supplemented its exhibition with loans from its partner museums. It has loaned a Lee-Enfield Rifle from the Fusiliers Museum in Bury, which is the same type of rifle used in the massacre, textiles from the Whitworth which highlight the cotton trade and one in a series of five Empire Marketing Board posters from Manchester Art Gallery, highlighting the tea trade.

There are also botany samples from its own collection that help explain why Britain was in India. The museum has also collaborated with the Singh Twins to create a new large-scale artwork for the exhibition depicting the massacre. Manchester musician, Aziz Ibrahim has also created a new piece of music in response to the tragedy.

A larger partnership within the UK has also been created with smaller versions of the exhibition being displayed at the Library of Birmingham and the Nehru Centre in London.

And a legacy of the exhibition will be the museum’s new relationships with its community, including work with gurdwaras in the area, which has involved recording the stories of descendants of those individuals who were present at Jallianwala Bagh, which will be shared with The Partition Museum.

“I love the way this partnership and exhibition has given us a different lens to look at our collection,” says Ward. “For me there is a lot of talk about decolonising museums and about restitution but the conversations regarding restitution are often framed in legal language around ownership, and what I’m interested in is how we can be more relational. How do we shift this to be thinking about our relationships? And for me that means our relationships with museums and with people in India.”

Jallianwala Bagh 1919: Punjab under Siege will have a closing ceremony on 2 October, a date that marks the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth and it is hoped that following this, parts of the exhibition will find a permanent home in some of the local gurdwaras.

NEMO’s 27th European Museum Conference: call for papers deadline 31 May 2019

NEMO’s 27th European Museum Conference will focus on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, specifically on how museums contribute to the sustainable development of cities and communities and how they – as strong institutions, can support peace and justice in a more imbalanced world.

NEMO wants to showcase how museums already are contributing, and can contribute, to a better and brighter future.

The deadline for submitting papers is 31 May 2019.  

https://www.ne-mo.org/fileadmin/Dateien/public/NEMo_documents/Call_for_papers_NEMO_European_Museum_Conference_Tartu_2019.pdf

https://www.ne-mo.org/news/article/nemo/nemo-call-for-papers-museums-2030-how-museums-can-help-build-a-sustainable-future.html

https://www.ne-mo.org/our-actions/european-museum-conference.html

ICOM UK