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ICOM UK members get discounted tickets for the 2019 Working Internationally Conference

Booking is now open for the 2019 Working Internationally Conference: Working Together to Achieve More, which will take place on Monday 11 March 2019 at the British Library in London.

ICOM UK members, NMDC members and British Library staff can purchase discounted tickets for £49 (regular price £75).  There are a limited number of student tickets available for £25.

View the outline programme and book tickets at https://wiconf2019.eventbrite.com

Full programme details will be available shortly.

Major European Institutions Will Loan Looted Artifacts to New Nigerian Museum

This article first appeared in the smithsonian.com online https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/major-european-institutions-will-loan-looted-artifacts-new-nigerian-museum-180970619/

Brass plaques from Benin City, on display at the British Museum. (Andreas Praefcke/Wikimedia Commons)

In 1897, a British diplomatic mission was sent to Benin City, once the seat of a great kingdom in modern-day southern Nigeria, to demand that its ruler stop imposing customs on colonial traders. The mission was ambushed, and in response, 1,200 British troops were dispatched on a “retaliatory expedition.” They razed large portions of Benin City and, before reducing its royal palace to smouldering ruins, made off with some 4,000 artworks, many of which ultimately ended up in some of the world’s most important museums.

More than a century after the destruction, the Benin Dialogue Group, which comprises museum representatives from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, along with Nigerian officials, have spearheaded an agreement to establish “a new museum in Benin City…where a permanent display of Benin art works from European and Nigerian museums will be shown.” While the display is permanent, the objects from European museums, will rotate periodically. They are, in other words, loans.

As Kate Brown reports for artnet News, precisely what items will be sent to the Benin Royal Museum, set to open in Nigeria in 2021, has not been confirmed, but the loans will include a number of “Benin bronzes,” intricate sculptures (which are actually made from brass, according to Encyclopedia Britannica) that were a coveted hallmark of the Benin Kingdom’s artistic output. Some 2,500 bronzes were looted during the 1897 expedition.

Among the institutions participating in the Benin Dialogue group are the British Museum, the Weltmuseum in Vienna, the National Museum of World Cultures in Leiden and the Ethnological Museum of Berlin, according to Catherine Hickley of the Art NewspaperThe group, which met in Leiden on October 19, has agreed upon a three-year time frame for the new display, and the participating museums have promised to provide advice and assistance to the Royal Museum on matters such as exhibition design and training, funding and legal frameworks.

Syria’s national museum reopens doors in war-scarred Damascus

This article was first published online in The Straight Times https://www.straitstimes.com/world/middle-east/syrias-national-museum-reopens-doors-in-war-scarred-damascus

Syria’s National Museum of Damascus opened its rich trove of antiquities to visitors again on Sunday 28 October, seven years after war forced them to close and months after the government recaptured all rebel areas near the capital.

Only part of the museum, and its collection drawn from the civilisations that have ruled Syria over the millennia, will be reopened immediately, its deputy director Ahmad Deeb said.

“We will exhibit a group of artefacts from all periods from prehistory, the ancient east and the classical and Islamic eras in this section,” he said.

A visitor uses her mobile phone to take a selfie during the reopening of Syria’s National Museum of Damascus, Syria 28 October 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

The reopening is a sign of the government’s attempts to restore normality in the capital after a succession of Russia-backed army victories since 2015 that have ended the threat to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

A bloody army offensive this spring forced the rebels to surrender eastern Ghouta in April, and the remaining insurgents’ enclaves near Damascus capitulated in the following weeks.

The conflict continues, with swathes of the country still outside Assad’s control, but it has stabilised with a Russian-Turkish deal over the last rebel bastion in the northwest, and US backing for Kurdish-led forces in the northeast.

The fate of Syria’s ancient heritage has hung in the balance for much of the conflict, as fighting erupted in major sites such as the Old City of Aleppo and others, including the desert ruins of Palmyra, fell into the hands of iconoclastic Islamists.

As the insurgency began to spread in 2011, the government evacuated the museum’s collection, one of the most important in the Middle East, along with those of provincial museums, hiding their artefacts far from the battlefield.

In Aleppo, where the museum lay near the front line, the huge ancient statues outside were too large to transport and were boarded up in giant crates filled with cement against shrapnel damage.

“The masterpieces were hidden straight away,” said Deeb. Army trucks carried antiquities from sites across the country to stash in safety, he said. The collection of Deir al-Zor museum, isolated by fighting, was airlifted to Damascus.

In the capital, the empty museum continued to be used by the General Directorate of Antiquities as an office, and was hit by mortar fire, but not badly damaged.

As the rebel presence around Damascus weakened in recent years, some statues were put on display to the public in the museum garden, including the Lion of Elat, a massive piece from Palmyra that was damaged by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and later restored.

Other objects, recovered by the government after they were seized by insurgents or smuggled overseas, were put on display this month in the Damascus Opera House, a testament to the looting of heritage that has characterised much of the war.

Vastari launches international Exhibition Reports

Innovative art tech company Vastari has launched two international reports to help
museums use their resources more efficiently to produce successful exhibitions for their audiences.


Vastari surveyed over 500 international institutions to find out how museums across the globe create, finance and collaborate on exhibitions. Vastari has collated and analysed the data generated by the survey into two reports in order to provide museums with a valuable picture of how they can improve their own practices to generate income, build collaborative relationships and better serve their audiences. The reports also intend to raise awareness with the wider market of the constraints museums are under.

These first editions of the reports are based on data from institutions primarily situated across Europe and North America. As more institutions around the world complete the survey, the reports will reflect the new data, providing an ever-evolving picture of global trends to enable exhibitions producers and museums to respond nimbly and use their resources efficiently.

Bernadine Bröcker Wieder, Co-Founder and CEO of Vastari, said: “At the end of the day, museums have to serve their audiences, and they do that best when they use their resources efficiently and invest in the exhibitions they deliver. Exhibitions are an important revenue stream in a time where museums and galleries need to behave increasingly entrepreneurially to build sustainable futures. We see the Vastari reports as invaluable tools in helping museums operate more efficiently and with an informed perspective on how best to collaborate, tour and finance their exhibitions. At Vastari, we believe that to share culture and knowledge is to keep it alive and we are inviting museums around the world to participate in this dialogue for the benefit of audiences.”

Key findings of the reports include:
There is a surplus of demand over the supply for Fine Art exhibitions, indicating that there is ample room in the market for producers of Fine Art content.
– Museums consider cost to be very important when choosing exhibitions, but rate exhibitions’ profitability as one of the least important factors.
– 30% more North American institutions host travelling exhibitions than European institutions, meaning that European exhibition producers could benefit more from transatlantic collaboration.

Ed Vaizey MP, Former UK Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, commented: “This report will start a conversation on how to make exhibition collaborations work for museums that might have different practices and yet meaningful reasons to want to work together, by establishing common ground and creating clarity from the outset. An increased awareness of their peers’ priorities, best practices, and a look at industry trends, can truly help them to maximise the impact of their exhibitions.”

Museums and non-profit institutions will access the report for free, with further industry organisations able to subscribe to the report platform from October 2018. Vastari is inviting museums and galleries around the world to contribute to the report and build a wider picture of the global exhibition ecosystem.

Louise Hamlin, Director of the Art Business Conference, said: “This report represents a significant step forward towards an ecosystem that is both more transparent and more connected. The public and private sectors are vital to each other and a deeper mutual understanding can unlock value for both sides. A company like Vastari, which has made bridging the gap between private and public art their mission, is uniquely positioned to spearhead the change and disseminate knowledge from a non-partisan standpoint for the benefit of all parties.”

Read more about the reports at:



Founded in 2012, Vastari is an online resource which connects exhibition creators,
museums and galleries, private collectors and art logistics and administration companies around the world to improve the experience of bringing exhibitions to audiences.

National Gallery to expand in Asia with cafes and pop-ups

This article was first published online at Blooloop https://blooloop.com/link/national-gallery-asia-cafes/

The National Gallery will open pop-ups and cafes in Asia via its Delicious Art IP to expand its brand’s reach.

The National Gallery will open a cafe in Seoul, South Korea, branded to its Delicious Art IP in November. It will feature replica artworks including works by Degas, Monet and Van-Gogh. It will also sell art-inspired produce and merchandise.

Under their master licensee Alfilo, the National Gallery will launch its first pop-up store in Guangzhou, China. It will feature digital assets and replicas of famous artworks. The company hopes it will boost brand awareness of the National Gallery in the region.

In August, The National Gallery begun its 5-year plan to enter the Chinese market with a takeover of Shanghai Metro Station.

The Shanghai Metro takeover was part of the brand’s entrance into the Chinese market. The campaign marks the start of a 5-year project to build brand awareness and licencing revenue in China.

The gallery highlighted some of its most famous artworks on a 30 metre long advertising panel. The panel was named ‘Cultural and art corridor’. The advertising panel was located in Shanghai Metro station, and included works by Van Gogh, Da Vinci and Monet.

Speaking to Licensing.biz, National Gallery Company’s buying and licensing director, Judith Mayer, said: “There is a greater consumer demand for art and heritage licensing today, and I think it’s because consumers want a product that has a heritage feel. The profits raised go back to a much-loved institution to maintain it for future generations, which is also a big appeal.”

“The National Gallery and Delicious Art make consumers look at art with fresh eyes. It introduces consumers to the paintings.”


Image courtesy National Gallery

UK-China Connection Through Culture Grants 2018-19

UK-China Connection through Culture Grants

Running for nearly a decade, Connections through Culture is a long-term programme to develop exciting cultural collaborations between artists and arts organisations, supporting long-lasting relationships between China and the UK.

The programme offers support, information, advice, networking opportunities and development grants to artists and arts organisations in China and the UK.

China and the UK both have a rich cultural heritage. Artists and arts organisations in both countries can benefit from the inspiration gained from exchanging ideas and sharing their cultural history.

Although the grants are available to all UK artists, Connections through Culture receives additional specific support from the Scottish government for projects with a Scottish connection.

What does Connection through Culture offer

Professional Development Grants (£2,500)

A limited number of small grants to enable artists or members of arts and cultural organisations to visit their counterparts in China or the UK for up to ten days, to develop projects, exchange skills or see others’ work. Grants are offered four times each year

Alumni Grants (£2,500)

A limited number of small grants for previous Connections Through Culture alumni to access follow-up funding to initial visits – starting in April 2016.  These grants are only available to alumni who received initial grants in the last 2 years, and are designed to be strategic grants to further facilitate collaboration and partnerships.  Grants are offered four times each year, in line with the Professional Development Grant rounds.


Details of the next round

Round 30 (Visits April – June 2019)

– Applications open: Monday 31 December 2018
– Application deadline: Friday 25 January 2019
– Results out: Monday 4 March 2019

Full details are available on the Connection Through Culture website: https://chinanow.britishcouncil.cn/opportunities/uk-china-connection-through-cultural-grants/

ICOM Europe Conference 2018


23-25 November 2018

Ludwig Museum, Koblenz

The 2018 ICOM EUROPE Conference, organized by ICOM Germany, is nearly here…

Did you already register?

There is still time to register, and don’t forget the theme, related to the centenary of the Armistice ending the Great War (WW1).

Get informed and register at:


Liverpool bids farewell to the Terracotta Warriors and 2000 years of ancient history

After 10 months of wowing the crowds at the World Museum Liverpool, the Terracotta Warriors begin their journey home.

Revealed as the most popular exhibition ever held by National Museums Liverpool, China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors contributed almost £80 million to the Liverpool City Region’s economy.

Alongside that unprecedented boost, the exhibition, part of the wider Chinese Dream programme from Culture Liverpool, has brought a piece of ancient history to life to thousands of local school children and 97,000 visitors on group tours.

The exhibition officially closed its doors on Sunday 28th October 2018, after a 9 month-long run, most of which was sold out in advance. Now the painstaking task of auditing more than 180 ancient artefacts begins and this is no ordinary packing party.

Watch above as World Museum’s Laura Johnson chats with our Jay about the meticulous operation that sees China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors make the 5,000 mile journey home.

From coins to pottery, jewellery, the golden horse and of course the warriors themselves, each and every artefact is painstakingly checked, wrapped and packed away, ready to be transported back to China and the rest of this colossal collection.

From fridge magnets to miniature warrior statues, street art to cocktails, the story of China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors has influenced everything from city bars to classroom art lessons. It’s safe to say that the Terracotta legacy will be felt in the city for a long time to come.

This article first appeared online in The Guide Liverpool https://www.theguideliverpool.com/watch-liverpool-bids-farewell-to-the-terracotta-warriors-2000-years-of-ancient-history/

Last chance to book for ICOM UK international networking luncheon at the MA Conference, Belfast, 8 Nov

ICOM UK will be hosting a networking luncheon on Thursday 8 November at the Museums Association Conference in Belfast.

The luncheon will take place 13:10 – 14:25 in Bar 2 on Thursday 8 November, which is straight after the ICOM UK-led conference session Winds of Change: The State of Museums in Southern Africa at 12:10 in Meeting Room 1.

The luncheon will be an opportunity for ICOM UK members and conference delegates interested in working internationally to hear about the 2019 ICOM Triennial in Kyoto and network over lunch.

A hot buffet lunch and drinks will be provided.

13:10     Delegates get lunch and drinks

13:25     Welcome, introduction and announcements – Tonya Nelson, Chair, ICOM UK

13:30     ICOM Triennial: Kyoto 2019 – Kiyoko Nishi, Researcher, Kyoto 2019


13:40     Catherine McDermott (Secretary, ICOM UK) and Helen Thomas (Head of Museums and Cultural Heritage, British Council/ ICOM UK Committee) introduce international delegates.

13:45     Quality Street International – networking session

14:25     End of luncheon

Space is limited so book your free luncheon place now via Eventbrite https://icomukluncheon.eventbrite.com

Please note you need to be a registered delegate for the MA Conference to attend the luncheon.  To book your place visit https://www.museumsassociation.org/conference/16012018-belfast-booking

Footage from CONNECT! Creative Desk UK forum on the value of international networks

Couldn’t make it to our CONNECT! Forum on the Value of Networks? Or perhaps you were there and want to revisit the highlights?

Creative Europe Desk UK has now made the footage free to watch on their Creative Europe Desk UK YouTube channel.

The event saw 120 delegates and 20 speakers from across screen, arts and policy join together at the Barbican for a day of debate.

Take a look at the highlights video below, or browse the CONNECT! playlist for full speeches from Dawn Walton, Eclipse Theatre; Kate Arthurs, British Council; Louise Jeffreys, Barbican; Jack Powell, BFI; and many more.