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Apply now for Greater Europe Travel Grant

ICOM UK, with support from Heritage Without Borders (HWB), is offering a number of travel grants to support staff from regional and local UK museums (non-national museums) to travel to Europe and greater Europe to develop mutually beneficial projects and partnerships.

The ICOM UK – HWB Travel Grant Scheme will enable recipients to undertake an international visit to museums to meet with international colleagues and mutually share skills, expertise and experience.  The Travel Grant Scheme aims to support museums who are starting to develop mutually beneficial international projects and partnerships in Europe and greater Europe.  Priority will be given to museums whose staff have not previously undertaken international work.

Applications will be considered for grants of up to £700 per organisation or consortium.

The full list of EU and greater Europe countries applicants are eligible to visit can be found on the Travel Grant Scheme Application Form (see below).


Deadlines for Applications

Deadline for applications: Monday 5 February 2018

Successful applicants notified: w/c 19 February 2018

Download the Word version of the Application Form HERE

Download the PDF version of the Application Form HERE

Pontypridd Museum travels to Limburg, Germany with ICOM UK HWB Travel Grant

The purpose of this trip was to draw comparisons between two historically similar mining regions, Limburg, Germany and South Wales, and how we as museums present and preserve this vital history for future generations. This visit allowed us to mutually share skills, expertise and experiences in how we currently present this significant history to the public and what strategies we have to continue to preserve our heritage going forward.

While also on the visit I aimed to look into their marketing practices and how they engage themselves with their local community as well as the wider area and its tourism offer. This is something we work hard on within our own museum and it will be interesting to gather experience of different methods of practice. As well as their marketing and community engagement practices, I would also look to observe any of their practices and strategies on any specific education programmes that they run alongside local schools and universities, for example.

Simone (Curator) of the Nederlands Mijnmuseum introduced me to her colleagues and volunteers and proceeded to show me around their museum for me to see their collection on display. This was interesting as the museum was smaller than I had anticipated, their display space being roughly the same size as ours, this provided me with a great comparison between how their space is used compared to ours.

Collection at the Mijnmuseum

Collection at the Mijnmuseum

We then took a walk around the city centre while Simone explained to me the history of the mining industry of the city and region. Simone then had a meeting at the local Roman Baths museum but took me along to introduce me to the staff who work closely alongside the Mijnmuseum. I then explored this museum to gather how more ‘professional’ museums operate in the city. Following this we headed back to the Mijnmuseum, passing a vast department store that was originally built to provide the local miners with all the equipment they needed, where we met two ladies from a local community group organising a schools activity visit to the Mijnmuseum. I explained to Simone and the ladies that what they were doing was very similar to what we do here in Ponty when we have school groups visit us, i.e. quizzes that get the children to view the displays and read the provided information. They were very pleased with this as this was a new project for both them and the Mijnmuseum itself.

Wednesday morning I took the train to the next town over from Heerlen which was Kerkrade where I met Simone and we cycled to another old mine in Kerkrade that was unique in that it had a circular shaft. I was introduced to all the volunteers who run it, who were working very hard in turning it into a mining museum. Interestingly, they took me to the upper rooms of the museum where they had previously hired to room out as a flat to a local artist but now have developed it into a nice study/meeting area that they hope to hire out, like we do with our basement rooms at Pontypridd.

We then cycled around the town while Simone explained some more of the history of mining in that area and how it all began in that town, when monks from the monastery would collect coal from the nearby river. From there we visited the monastery, which is now a large conference centre, right on the German border. From here you could see the ‘coal heaps’ from the mines over in Germany which are now overgrown with forestry. Simone explained to me that in the Netherlands, the mines didn’t dump the waste deposits into large mounds as they do in Germany (and Wales), and the only one where they did is now a ski slope.

Storage at the Mijnmuseum

Storage at the Mijnmuseum

We continued to the Continium museum where Simone had arranged for us to meet an old colleague of hers named Serge, who is an expert on the history of mining and he showed us around the display and stores as well as telling me more about the mining history of the region. This museum has the largest mining collection in Limburg and along with the Mijnmuseum and the Kerkrade mineshaft, make up the entire mining collection of Limburg. Continiums collection however, was as Simone described the ‘professional collection’. This was very easy to tell as their storage and preservation equipment and standards are extremely high. I recognised a lot of their conservation techniques and explained to them that here at Pontypridd we are currently upgrading our storage conditions to a standard such as these. This was also interesting for Simone as at the Mijnmuseum they are yet to implement proper storage procedures and conditions.

On the way back to Simone's house we stopped at a new concert hall that she explained is a new ‘community hub’ which is one of the new improvements being made to the town. However, this was closed so we went to her house where her father had kindly invited me for dinner. This was good as it allowed me to ask her father about his memories of growing up in the mining region, which was very insightful.

We took the train back to Heerlen where Simone had a meeting with the Mijnmuseums Governors and wanted to introduce me to them. I sat in with them at their meeting and they asked me many questions about our museum and the history of Pontypridd and the South Wales coalfield. I provided them with some leaflets of our museum and other local heritage attractions from around the valleys. I also asked them about their work and what their future plans are for their museum. They explained to me that this was a very exciting time for them as they are very close to achieving their 2 Million Euro fund to further expand their museum. It was great to meet the governors and sit in on their meeting, not only for the discussions I had with them but also just to see how the Mijnmuseum is run from the administrative side.

Steinkohle Kerkrade

Steinkohle Kerkrade

Thursday I visited the city of Maastricht and looked at the places that Simone had recommended to me. It was an interesting city to visit as it doesn’t have the mining history like Heerlen but rather a large glass and ceramic industrial heritage. So this was interesting to compare with the city of Heerlen and towns like Kerkrade.

On Friday morning I met Simone at the Mijnmuseum where one of the volunteers showed me two videos about mining, one from the 1920’s and one from the 1950’s, for me to compare the differences in techniques used and attitudes towards mining. Then I got to look around the Mijnmuseums stores which I found very impressive. Like Simone had told me, their storage methods are yet to be done professionally, but what they have managed to do in such a short time was very impressive. Although they don’t have a large amount of space, they have a series of offices which each have designated objects in, paintings/photographs, ceramics etc, as well as space for volunteers to work on conservation or digitisation of the collection.

Mijnmuseum collection

Mijnmuseum collection

After this we walked around the office tower where the Mijnmuseums offices are for me to see some of the other companies that have office space there. This was very interesting as there are so many companies, most of them young entrepreneurial companies, that share the office block and all seem to help each other out with different projects. One of which was a film company who are currently filming a short movie based in a mine shaft and we visited their set, some of the props of which where loaned from the Mijnmuseum. Also, we visited a Virtual Reality company who are going to be working on a VR project alongside the Mijnmuseum which looks to be very interesting and will greatly help to engage visitors in the museum with the collections.

My visit to Heerlen and the Mijnmuseum gave me a great insight into how similar museums to ours operate. It was really opening just how similar the histories of our regions are in regards to mining heritage and how we strive to preserve this vital history and the challenges we face in giving the public access to their history. Moving forward we will keep in touch with the Mijnmuseum and follow each other’s progress and developments, with the possibility of collaborating on future projects and exhibitons.

Confronting uncomfortable truths about European colonial appropriation

This article, written by Nicholas Thomas, first appeared in the Art Newspaper http://theartnewspaper.com/comment/macron-repatriation 

Nicholas Thomas, professor of historical anthropology at Cambridge University, on the French President's statements about African artefacts.

It is enormously encouraging that the President of France has chosen to highlight this issue [of repatriation]. Over recent decades, across Europe, curators have prioritised collaborative work with communities of origin—in Oceania, Asia and elsewhere, as well as in Africa. They have engaged in joint research, co-curation, the acquisition of art representing contemporary voices, and they have also, inevitably, discussed and negotiated the future care and destinations of collections of great significance. In 1960, a group of sacred objects was returned by the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to the Uganda Museum.

We have been too slow to build on initiatives of the epoch of decolonisation. I am sure that Emmanuel Macron understands that alongside the return of artefacts, museum facilities in African nations and elsewhere need to be improved, curatorial and conservation capacity needs strengthening, and collections will only genuinely be of public benefit if education and outreach staff are sustainably funded. In many cases, the longer-term loan of works will enable joint research and conservation, and may be achievable more quickly than outright repatriation.

Macron is absolutely right, also, to signal that it is vital that African art—and I would add, the art of Oceania, the native Americas and Asia—continues to be displayed in Europe. Now, more than ever, the European public need to encounter the achievements of cultures beyond the West. Migrants of African origin within Europe should have access to these outstanding expressions of their history. Many intellectuals in Africa and the Pacific have affirmed the importance of artefact 'ambassadors' for their cultures in prestigious European museums, and been sceptical regarding the motivations of national politicians.

We need to confront uncomfortable truths about European colonial appropriation, and about the epoch of decolonisation, acknowledging the indifference of some African governments to care for cultural and heritage. In the sphere of culture, no issue has been represented more simplistically, no issue needs more careful, case-by-case, consideration. But, emphatically, the complexities and difficulties provide no excuse for inaction. President Macron's commitment to prioritise the issue will be welcomed by many museum curators. It should be taken up by other European governments—our colonial history makes it especially salient in Britain. It should lead to a process of dialogue, based in careful research, and to sustainable arrangements which would make collections accessible to broad publics in African nations.'

Nicholas Thomas is professor of historical anthropology and Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge

CAMOC (Museums of Cities) goes to Mexico City

This article was originally posted here http://icom.museum/news/news/article/camoc-goes-to-cdmx/L/0/

CAMOC members recently gathered in Mexico City for an annual meeting devoted to “Museums of Cities and Contested Urban Histories”

On 30-31 October, Mexico’s Palacio Nacional—its courtyard decorated for that nation’s annual Dia de los Muertos commemoration—provided the backdrop for the annual conference of CAMOC, ICOM’s International Committee for the Collections and Activities of Museums of Cities.

With 50 presenters representing more than 20 countries, this year’s CAMOC meeting proved one of the group’s largest and most diverse to date. The programme committee’s chosen theme, “Museums of Cities and Contested Histories”, was both broad enough (in its global relevance) and specific enough (in its intellectual focus) to draw participants into dialogues that extended easily from formal paper sessions to coffee-break chat and, especially key for the members of this group, organised tours and informal city walks.

Read more HERE

CAMOC is a forum for professionals working in or interested in museums about cities. This Committee allows them to share knowledge and experience, exchange ideas and explore partnerships across international boundaries. CAMOC seeks to stimulate dialogue and co-operation between museums by supporting and encouraging them in the collection, preservation and presentation of original material related to the past, present and future of the city, reinforcing the city's identity and contributing to its development. Activities include regular annual meetings, working groups, publication of proceedings of meetings and newsletters, etc.

This article was originally posted here http://icom.museum/news/news/article/camoc-goes-to-cdmx/L/0/

Museums + Heritage Awards 2018 – 1 Feb 2018 deadline

The annual Museums + Heritage Awards, now in its sixteenth year, recognises projects of excellence - innovative and ground-breaking exhibitions from galleries and visitor attractions across the UK and Europe. These range from remarkable achievements of national institutions to projects crafted with limited resources and those championing their staff and volunteers who work hard to deliver inspiring visitor experiences.

The Awards are judged by a panel of the sector’s leading lights including, Diane Lees, Director General, Imperial War Museum; Bernard Donoghue, Director, Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) and other leading sector professionals.

The 2018 Awards has a dedicated category for overseas organisations and the highly anticipated International Award, will once again be championing the incredible achievements of organisations and their suppliers from overseas in 2017.

With these Awards open to all museums, galleries, cultural and heritage visitor attractions and their suppliers, no matter what size or budget, this is an unrivalled opportunity for everyone!

Awards homepage - http://awards.museumsandheritage.com/

Enter the Awards - http://awards.museumsandheritage.com/about-the-awards/enter-the-awards/

Categories - http://awards.museumsandheritage.com/2018-awards-categories/

Ceremony info - http://awards.museumsandheritage.com/about-the-awards/awards-ceremony/

Trafficking and Looting of Cultural Heritage

This article was originally posted here http://www.ne-mo.org/news/article/nc/1/nemo/trafficking-and-looting-of-cultural-heritage/346.html

The CULT Committee's draft opinion on Cross-border restitution claims of works of art and cultural goods looted in armed conflicts and wars. The five suggestions call for an update and clarification of existing policies and "urge[] the Commission to proceed to a thorough mapping of existing databases and to envisage the creation of a central database that takes account of the available information" as well the introduction of a common cataloguing system and register of transactions. This particularly aims to support museums in their work - i.e. performing provenance research with due dilligence.

On 13 October an agreement between UNESCO and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) was signed in a new effort to address mounting threats to cultural properties worldwide.

At the 39th UNESCO General Conference, the organisation revised its strategy for its work in protecting culture and cultural pluralism in the event of armed conflict. The revised  strategy now additionally covers natural disasters. Furthermore, an appeal on Protecting Culture and Promoting Cultural Pluralism as a key to lasting peace was also launched. It calls for culture, cultural heritage and diversity to be factored into international humanitarian, security and peace-building policies and operations and builds on the UN Security Council Resolution 2347.

This article was originally posted here http://www.ne-mo.org/news/article/nc/1/nemo/trafficking-and-looting-of-cultural-heritage/346.html

The Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme: an update

This article was originally posted here https://blog.britishmuseum.org/the-iraq-emergency-heritage-management-training-scheme-an-update/

The Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme is a programme funded by the UK government, through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and delivered through the British Museum. Its aim is to train archaeologists from across the whole of Iraq in cultural heritage management and practical fieldwork skills.

The training consists of two months based in London at the British Museum, followed by two months of hands-on training on site in Iraq. This practical training takes place at two field projects – in the south of Iraq at the site of Tello, and in the north at the Darband-i Rania. This short film gives a brief introduction to some of the Scheme’s work so far:

Tello – ancient Girsu

Tello, the modern Arabic name of the ancient Sumerian city of Girsu, is one of the earliest known cities of the world. It is a mega-site, with a similar topographical layout to the recently liberated Assyrian capitals of northern Iraq – Nimrud and Nineveh. During the 3rd millennium BC Girsu was considered the sanctuary of the Sumerian heroic god Ningirsu.

The site was first and extensively investigated between 1877 and 1933. This brought to light some of the most important monuments of Sumerian art and architecture, including the statuary of the ruler Gudea and the Bridge of Girsu – the oldest bridge to be discovered in the world. Tello is therefore ideal for delivering the training for the Iraqi archaeologists.

Excavations in the autumn of 2016 and spring and autumn of 2017 were carried out as part of the training of the archaeologists in the heart of the sacred district of Girsu, at Tell A, known as the Mound of the Palace. Under the guidance of Lead Archaeologist Sebastien Rey, British Museum archaeologists and the Iraqi trainees used declassified 1960s satellite images and modern drones to create digital elevation models of the whole temple site. Using these as a guide to this battered landscape, the archaeologists were able to unearth extensive mudbrick walls – some ornamented with pilasters and inscribed magical cones – belonging to the Ningirsu temple. This 4,000-year-old temple dedicated to the storm god was considered as one of the most important sacred places of Mesopotamia, praised for its magnificence in many contemporary literary compositions.

The temple of the Sumerian storm god Ningirsu at Tello.

Inscribed cones are among the most iconic objects of ancient Mesopotamia and museums across the world hold hundreds of them in their collections. They are votive artefacts made in clay bearing dedicatory texts from Mesopotamian rulers to the gods of the Sumerians. More than 15 cones were found in the temple to the mighty god Ningirsu. This is a very important discovery, as until now, none has been found in their original context. This meant the archaeologists had the opportunity to examine them in situ for the first time. Research has shown they were placed to follow a particular pattern. The team is in the process of deciphering this pattern which may unlock some of the mysteries surrounding ancient religious practices.

Excavating magical cones from the walls of the temple.

Among the other unique finds was a foundation box below one of the principal gates of the complex. It contained a white ritual stone tablet belonging to the ruler Gudea. Excavations under the temple also led to the discovery of two superimposed monumental platforms. The oldest one could be dated to the beginning of the third millennium and predates the previous earliest known Mesopotamian stepped-terrace by a few hundred years.

The tablet and other important finds will be displayed in the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and a column base from the Ningirsu temple will be displayed in the in the local museum of Nassiriya, the closest to the site of Tello.

Darband-i Rania

The Darband-i Rania, located 100km from the Kurdish capital of Erbil and 100km north of Sulaimaniya, is a pass at the western edge of the Zagros mountains on a historic route from Mesopotamia to Iran. It is the route through which Alexander the Great passed in 331 BC in pursuit of the Persian king Darius III. Earlier, in the 8th and 7th centuries BC, it was at the eastern edge of the Assyrian empire.

The principal work of the Iraq Scheme has been at Qalatga Darband, a site overlooking the Lower Zab river at the western end of the pass. The site was originally discovered from the analysis of declassified spy satellite imagery from the 1960s. One of the first achievements of the Iraq Scheme has been to map the large number of carved limestone blocks which lie scattered across the site and indicate the presence of substantial remains. New analysis of imagery captured by drone survey shows that numerous other major buildings also lie buried at the site.

An example of the imagery captured by the drone survey.

Excavations have been conducted at Qalatga Darband in multiple areas under the guidance of Lead Archaeologist John MacGinnis. The presence of a large fortified structure at the north end of the site has been confirmed, while numerous stone presses hint at facilities for wine production. The strong Hellenistic influence is evident in two different buildings which are built in the Greco-Roman architectural tradition, particularly the use of terracotta roof tiles.

Investigation of the huge stone mound at the southern end of the site is uncovering remains of a monumental building which, based on the presence of the smashed remains of Hellenistic statuary, would appear to be a temple for the worship of Greco-Roman deities. These include a seated female figure, possibly the queen of the underworld Persephone, and a half life-size nude male figure, perhaps the Greek god of beauty and desire Adonis.

Half life-size nude male figure, perhaps the Greek god of beauty and desire Adonis, found during one of the digs.

From site to museum

The significant finds being made across both sites by the British Museum’s Iraq Scheme pass into the care of museums in Iraq. At Tello, the magical cones, a fragment of a marble foundation tablet of the Sumerian ruler Ur-Bau and other important finds will be displayed in the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, and a column base from the temple will be displayed in the local museum to Tello at Nassiriya. The work of the Darband-i Rania Archaeological Project is adding a new chapter to the history of Iraqi Kurdistan, a region which in archaeological terms has previously been almost completely unexplored. The discovery of a fort dating to the time of the Assyrian period will generate information on a corner of the empire which is currently virtually unknown.

These new discoveries are proving that there is still much more to learn from Iraq’s many heritage sites. The vital skills that the trainees are learning are saving the country’s unique historic archaeology for the future.


You can find out more about the Scheme on the Museum’s website.

This article was originally posted here https://blog.britishmuseum.org/the-iraq-emergency-heritage-management-training-scheme-an-update/

Book now for 2018 Working Internationally Conference, 7 March, Edinburgh

ICOM UK members have priority and discounted booking for the 20178 Working Internationally Conference.  The Conference will take place on Wednesday 7 March 2018 at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Tickets for ICOM UK members are £49 (non-member tickets are £75).

There are also a limited number of student tickets available for £25.

To view the outline conference programme and book your tickets visit: https://wi2018.eventbrite.com

Priority booking is open until 16 December 2017.  Members will still be able to book discounted tickets after 16 December but as places are limited we recommend booking early to avoid disappointment.

New Issue of Museum International available online

This article was originally posted here http://icom.museum/news/news/article/museum-international-turns-the-page/L/0/

ICOM is pleased to announce that the new issue of Museum International, dedicated to the ICOM 2016 General Conference theme ‘Museums and cultural landscapes’, has just been published. The printed version will be available in early December.

ICOM has redefined the journal’s layout and design to be more aesthetically pleasing and readable, bringing out a more dynamic, vibrant whole.

A new editorial board has been appointed for the next three years. The eight new members are established researchers or professionals in their respective fields, and represent the geographical and disciplinary diversity of the museum and heritage field.

The concept of ‘cultural landscape’ is a complex and multi-faceted one. In this issue, authors illustrate varying practical approaches to cultural landscapes, routes, and intangible and tangible cultural heritage around the world, including Italy, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands, Hong Kong and the Philippines, Mozambique and South Africa.

Free access to the articles will be available to ICOM members for 30 days, through the Wiley Online Library platform: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/muse.2017.69.issue-1-2/issuetoc

Wiley offers a reduced subscription fee to all ICOM members. To subscribe, please visit the Museum International homepage at: ordering.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/subs.asp

This article was originally posted here http://icom.museum/news/news/article/museum-international-turns-the-page/L/0/

France’s former Culture Minister appointed new UNESCO chief

Member States of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Friday appointed Audrey Azoulay, a former culture minister of France, to the top post of the agency.

“I now think of all the people I met in recent months, or had met in my various professional capacities, who have great expectations from UNESCO,” Ms. Azoulay told the UNESCO General Conference, which endorsed her 13 October nomination by agency’s Executive Board.

Ms. Azoulay, who will replace outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova, took office on 15 November.

“I think of UNESCO’s mandate, which is strikingly modern. I think of all of you who are aware of the difficulties of the Organization but who know that it is irreplaceable, that it is essential, in facing current global challenges and who aspire to the unity and serenity necessary to let it exercise its mandate to best effect,” Ms. Azoulay said.

Born in 1972, Ms. Azoulay was France’s Minister of Culture and Communication from February 2016 to May 2017.

She has occupied senior positions in France’s public broadcasting sector and then served as rapporteur to France’s public auditing authority, the Cour des comptes, and as a European Commission legislative expert on issues of culture and the media.

Ms. Azoulay served France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC), first as Deputy Audiovisual Director, then as Director of Financial and Legal Affairs, and finally as Deputy Director-General.

A graduate of the Ecole National d’Administration and the Paris Institut d’études politiques, Ms. Azoulay also holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Lancaster (UK).

She is the 11th Director-General of UNESCO and the second woman to occupy this position.

UNESCO is responsible for coordinating international cooperation in education, science, culture and communication. The organization’s theme is ‘Building peace in the minds of men and women,’ and the themes that fall under its mandate include education in the twenty-first century, fostering free expression, protecting cultural heritage and stewardship of the planet’s oceans.