Dcms Museums And Galleries Sector Coronavirus Bulletin 30 March 2020

Author Archive for Dana Andrew

International Museum Day 2020 goes digital!

Message from ICOM:

Nothing is stopping #IMD2020 to carry on its values of inclusion and promote the role of museums in society. Visit the IMD website to find all the available materials and don’t forget to add your events to the interactive map.

Digital and online events are more than welcome!

Send us the material you are preparing for IMD2020: filled posters, short presentation videos, ideas for interactive (virtual) activities to be done at home during International Museum Day. And don’t forget to put inclusion first and consider the diversity of your audiences: through which channels can you reach them? What activities could they enjoy?

At the ICOM secretariat we started to fill ours: do you recognize anyone? 🙂


Blog from Science Museum Group trip to Pakistan

While none of us are able to travel internationally at the moment, we hope you might enjoy some ‘virtual’ travel via the blogs and reports we will publish over the coming weeks from recent ICOM UK – British Council Travel Grant recipients.

This week we share a blog written by Henna Bhatti, Partnerships Manager at the Science Museum Group (SMG) about her visit to Pakistan.

The main purpose of my visit was to see the Dawood Foundation and look to further along an important partnership with them. The Dawood Foundation is looking to create a science centre in Karachi – the first of its kind in Pakistan. It is an incredible project and a privilege to be part of.

It’s been 12 years since I last visited Pakistan and my first impressions of the country were on how internationally focussed it now seemed to be. Everywhere I could see business meetings and the overwhelming message I got was of a country that is now very much open for business. With the security situation heavily improved and an obvious eye for international cooperation, it looks like an exciting time to work with Pakistan.

With the Dawood Foundation at the construction site for the MagnifiScience Centre

On my first day in Karachi with the Dawood Foundation, I had a fantastic first impression. I visited the science studio set up in their office, a little interactive gallery with demonstrators and school groups visiting. I was delighted to see the enthusiasm in the gallery and how so many of the objects were made from easily identifiable local materials (like a dhol) – making science that much more accessible and engaging. Further ongoing conversations with the Foundation showed the great progress they were making on the centre and their fantastic focus on being as inclusive as possible – with a mission to empower as many disengaged young people and families as possible. It was clear what areas we would be able to utilise our expertise in and help the Foundation, and after hearing more of the Foundation’s mission and the problems in science education in Pakistan, I came away from the day so inspired in this partnership and to do more.

The following days I visited the Dawood Public School, a school run by the Foundation with the aim of empowering young girls. The pupils were preparing for a science fair and I was able to walk around and listen to them energetically describe their hand made experiments and objects. Their energy was infectious, and it was inspiring to see the brilliance and enthusiasm behind their work. I then visited the building site of the science centre, still in progress, to see the building layout and get an understanding of is final size. It is an impressive building, with a very well thought out layout and being there physically excited me about its prospects.

An experiment outlining the digestive process, made by students from Dawood Public School

The last part of my trip was in Islamabad, to meet with the British Council and government ministers if possible. Unfortunately, the ministers were not available, but it was great speaking with the Council and again they highlighted the appetite for more cooperation and collaboration with Pakistani science organisations. It furthered the impression I received earlier about the want to increase international cooperation. And with a shortage of museum management skills throughout the country, and a desire to increasingly promote Pakistani culture and heritage and inspire young people – now seems like a prime time to build partnerships and share our expertise in this field.

How a new museum in Lagos with art fit for a prince hopes to inspire and educate

This article was first published by Quartz Africa https://qz.com/africa/1814341/lagos-shyllon-museum-in-nigeria-hopes-to-inspire-african-art/

For centuries, a vast range of African art has been domiciled outside the continent. As a consequence, African art and history has been mostly debated in conferences and museums in art centers like London and Paris.

However in recent years, Nigeria specifically, and Africa in general, have been enjoying a something of a renaissance in its art industry. While the older museums in the country are still decrepit and underfunded a few galleries and art shows have led that renaissance in recent years. But there are still very few museums in the country.

But tucked away about two hours away from Lagos is a freshly minted museum on the campus of Pan-Atlantic University in Ibeju Lekki. The university museum, named the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art after Prince Yemisi Shyllon, a Yoruba prince from Ogun state in southwest Nigeria who is one of Nigeria’s biggest art collectors and a main donor for the university museum, which opened last October.

Prince Shyllon through his foundation, the Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation, granted the university $1.7 million towards the cost of building the university museum and maintaining it for 15 years. Since his second year as a student at the University of Ibadan, the now 68 year-old Prince Shyllon has collected and bought over 7,000 pieces of art—the bulk of which he has donated to the new museum.

“I want to leave with a legacy. I want to have contributed towards Nigerians and Africans knowing what they are. I hope this museum can serve as a catalyst for art in Nigeria and in the continent,” says Shyllon in an interview.

The majority of his private collection at the university museum are from Nigeria very often sourced during his travels around the country. At the museum, the works of Ben Enwonwu, Nike Davies-Okundaye, Victor Ehikhamenor, Jerry Buhari are in full display. But several other African artists and nations are also represented in the museum with works ranging from traditional works of pre-colonial Nigeria to modern day paintings and photographs.

“There is vibrant art in Lagos and Nigeria, but the important question is about what people can learn from the art. We don’t quite know what and where we are, but art can show us these things. We need a reeducation and museums are the place for a certain type of education, but they are very few here,” says Shyllon.

Years before the inception of the Pan-Atlantic University, the university board had the idea for a museum as a part of the education provided by the university. Before the museum was opened, the university had an art collection. In 2011, the university launched a virtual museum of modern and contemporary Nigerian art. Today, the museum is home to over 1200 artworks with around 1000 donated by the Prince’s foundation.

The museum is run by a team of six staff employed by the university and headed by Spanish architect Jesse Castellote. Castellote also designed the 1,200-square-meter museum and a few other buildings in the university. For the university, the museum is an independent non-commercial institution and educational resource for an educational purpose, effectively the first of its kind in the country. “We are looking to teach our visitors Nigerian history through art,” says Castellote. “We are providing a vehicle to spark curiosity, questions, inspiration, discovery and it is up to visitors to decide what they want to learn and discover.”

Years before the inception of the Pan-Atlantic University, the university board had the idea for a museum as a part of the education provided by the university. Before the museum was opened, the university had an art collection. In 2011, the university launched a virtual museum of modern and contemporary Nigerian art. Today, the museum is home to over 1200 artworks with around 1000 donated by the Prince’s foundation.

The museum is run by a team of six staff employed by the university and headed by Spanish architect Jesse Castellote. Castellote also designed the 1,200-square-meter museum and a few other buildings in the university. For the university, the museum is an independent non-commercial institution and educational resource for an educational purpose, effectively the first of its kind in the country. “We are looking to teach our visitors Nigerian history through art,” says Castellote. “We are providing a vehicle to spark curiosity, questions, inspiration, discovery and it is up to visitors to decide what they want to learn and discover.”

But Prince Shyllon hopes that the museum can be seen as a potential home for any African works that are returned from Europe.

Museums Around the World Are Sharing Their Most Zen Art on Social Media to Help People Relax

This article was first published by Travel + Leisure https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museum-moment-of-zen-hashtag-help-people-relax?utm_source=American+Alliance+of+Museums&utm_campaign=8be4e65a0c-Dispatches_Mar19_2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f06e575db6-8be4e65a0c-37422009

Even if you’re stuck at home, you deserve a little zen.

As more and more schools, restaurants, and other public places shut down in order to combat the spread of coronavirus, people may find themselves extra anxious about this global outbreak.

Of course, spending time alone at home 24/7 probably doesn’t do much to soothe your stress.

Since museums, in particular, are also closing their doors for the time being, these organizations are finding new ways to give a little culture to the public. Some have decided to offer online tours — like these 12 famous museums can you visit virtually — and some are posting as much uplifting content as they can on social media.

In order to help people ease their minds during uncertain times (and enjoy some art), the Museum of the City of New York decided to start the hashtag #MuseumMomentofZen on Twitter and Instagram to share imagery and artworks online in tiny doses.

Since starting the hashtag, over 75 museums (and counting) have followed suit, sharing beautiful artworks, photos of architecture, archival images, and even some videos of installations. And it’s not just art museums that are using the hashtag — natural history, science, and nature museums are also using it as well.

According to the Communications office for the Museum of the City of New York, the hashtag has garnered more than 25,000 likes. Museums across the U.S. (and even some international) have been continually posting incredible imagery. Establishments like The Met in New York City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Field Museum in Chicago have been joined in.

If you’re starting to feel the stress of isolation while in self-quarantine, it might help to enjoy a little culture. Even if you can’t go outside, you can still feed your brain with works from classic and contemporary artists.

Take a look at some of our favorite posts from museums across the country. Check out the hashtag #MuseumMomentofZen on Twitter and Instagram to see even more amazing images. The museums are also posting with the hashtag #MuseumFromHome.

Supporting You Through COVID-19

On behalf of the ICOM UK Executive Committee, I wanted to write to say that our thoughts are with those who have been affected by the COVID-19 virus and express our intention to support museum colleagues in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales through this challenging time.

COVID-19 is a global pandemic, it knows no national, state or local boundaries. Thus, this is the time for all museums and museum professionals from around the world to work together to meet the challenges presented by the virus and the upheaval it is causing in our daily lives. While our museum spaces may be closed to the public, the stories they tell can and should still be told.

If there is any bright side to this situation, we have unprecedented opportunities to reach audiences who might never walk through our doors. Our colleagues in East Asia have been dealing with closure for a number of weeks now and have continued to share their collections through digital platforms. In fact, on 28 January, China’s National Administration of Cultural Heritage requested that museums share their online exhibitions and content with the public to “encourage the determination and morale of the local people to fight the epidemic…” I know many of you are keen to do the same thing and have already published fantastic online content. For those of you who are looking to make a start, ICOM has published a great introductory article summarising how museums are reaching audiences remotely.

ICOM UK wants to continue to facilitate knowledge sharing on all issues related to COVID-19 – from digital engagement to staff health and wellbeing, to new fundraising models – by connecting you with colleagues around the world.  We could, in particular, learn from our colleagues in China, where many museums are set to re-open this week.  To that end, our Connected Museum programme will feature articles, videos and other international professional knowledge exchange opportunities that will provide information and, ideally insight and hope, during this period of uncertainty.

If there are particular issues or questions you would like us to address, please do contact us at uk.icom.museum@gmail.com

Take care of yourselves and others.

Best regards,

Tonya Nelson

Chair, ICOM UK

DCMS Museums and Galleries Sector Coronavirus Bulletin – 23 March 2020

Below is a link to download a PDF bulletin from DCMS for the museums and galleries sector on coronavirus, containing links to government information.  We will publish these updates on the ICOM UK website as we receive them.



To see the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on 23 March:


People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

Looking ahead of the curve: some Chinese museums are starting to re-open

Whilst many of our members’ museums and galleries here in the UK are in the thick of emergency planning, having had to close to the public, we have been looking ahead to find out what happens at the other end of the ‘curve’.  How are museums in China responding to the lifting of restriction of movements as they start to re-open their museums, galleries and cultural institutions?  As they start to re-open, what measures are museums and galleries putting in place to protect and reassure their visitors?

This week we are sharing three articles about museums in China.

Half of China’s provincial museums reopened on 24 March 2020

Attractions continue to open nationwide across China

Virtual visits reveal museums’ magic

Over the coming weeks we will publish articles and interviews from across the global ICOM network to share how our colleagues in other countries and continents are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on their organisations.

If you have stories, advice, best practice examples to share from your International Committees (ICs) or National Committee (NC) contacts, please get in touch with us at uk.icom.museum@gmail.com

Will Europe’s museums rise to the challenge of decolonisation?

This article was first published in the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2020/mar/07/europe-museums-decolonisation-africa-empire

With new museums opening in Africa, and calls for restitution increasing, old institutions are being forced to address the legacies of empire.

Anthropology and archaeology were among the most important of the colonial disciplines. They derived their power from the trick of collapsing time and space. In his classic 1983 book Time and the Other, Amsterdam-based anthropologist Johannes Fabian described how this illusion operated. It was as if the further the colonial explorer travelled from the metropolis, the further back in time they went – until they found themselves, whether in Africa, Tasmania, or Tierra del Fuego, no longer in the present, but in the Stone Age.

Anthropology museums – which hold “world culture” collections – first developed in Europe, especially Germany and Britain, in the late 19th century. They were designed to realise these exoticising time-warps. In these places, the racist ideologies that sought to justify and naturalise European imperialism were institutionalised, helping create the idea of a distinction between “primitive art” and “civilisation”. Today the colonial mindset of European anthropology museums is being questioned and rethought – and we should all be paying attention.

In the quiet Brussels suburb of Tervuren, the Royal Museum for Central Africa reopened in December 2018 after a five-year renovation. Originally built in 1897 to showcase the personal collection of King Leopold II from his private colony Congo Free State, the museum displays stuffed animals and geological specimens alongside African art. Its gardens once housed a short-lived “human zoo” of more than 260 Congolese people. New museum texts attempt to communicate Belgian colonial history and the circumstances in which objects were taken.

But this “decolonised” redisplay is both a failure and a cautionary tale. No matter how fully and honestly the story of the Belgian Congo – in which millions of people were killed – is told, the very presence of these objects and the building does what it was designed to do: extend racist ideology and colonial violence through the objectification of Africans. Europe’s museums, as Sumaya Kassim puts it, “will not be decolonised”.

The contrast with Senegal’s new $35m Museum of Black Civilisations, which opened to the public in the same month as Tervuren, is stark. As its director, Hamady Bokoum, has explained, the museum is not about ethnology or the past conjured by a European model of museums, but about duration, the future, youth and Africa “looking at itself”, not gazed at by Europeans. An American colleague recently back from Dakar complained that some of the gallery displays seemed “sparse” and “unfinished”. She was not wrong. Across Africa, from Dakar to the new Royal Museum in Benin City in Nigeria, which David Adjaye has been commissioned to design, modern spaces for the display and care for African art and cultural heritage are being constructed hand-in-hand with renewed calls for the return of plundered objects.

Last year, the 15 nations of the Economic Community of West African States agreed an action plan for the return of African cultural property, and in February 2020 13 African heads of state convened as part of a new strategic group to champion 2021 as a Year of Culture for Africa, and “to speed up the return of cultural assets”. African institutions are reimagining museums not as an endpoint but as an ongoing, living process.

This new African thinking challenges Europe to look at itself through its own “unfinished” anthropology museums. Foremost is the question of cultural restitution and the return of sacred, royal and culturally iconic artworks and material culture taken under colonialism. In Britain, our tired and familiar national narrative conflates returning the Parthenon marbles, Easter Island statues, the Rosetta Stone, the Benin Bronzes and even the Lewis chessmen into one intractable issue. By contrast, Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy’s report on restitution, commissioned by Emmanuel Macron in France, calls for us to distinguish between the different circumstances of “acquisition” – from violent looting to colonial collecting, archaeological fieldwork and even purchase – in which questions of “consent” and “duress” are relevant.

Macron’s report is now leading to action. Last November, the sabre of Omar Saidou Tall, seized as a trophy of war in 1893, was returned from Paris to Dakar. New legislation to make this return permanent, along with the return to Benin of 26 statues looted by Col Alfred Dodds during the sacking of the royal palace of Abomey in 1892, is expected soon. In Germany too, returns of human remains and cultural property – including the Stone Cross of Cape Cross and the Witbooi Bible taken during the Ovaherero and Nama genocide of 1904-8, when some 100,000 people were slaughtered – are taking place from Berlin and Stuttgart to Namibia. And the inauguration of a new national museum of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa last November is even raising the question of restitutions from Tervuren. New restitution procedures are being developed across Europe from the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen in the Netherlands to Arts Council England.

Times are changing for Europe’s “world culture” museums. How can they participate in this global present, rather than just representing some old colonial vision? We must let go of our old obsessions with cultural ownership and the spectre of “empty galleries” (a common refrain from those who defend the status quo and envisage western museums stripped of their collections if restitution requests are granted). It is time to reimagine museums as sites of conscience – unique public spaces for understanding, remembering and addressing the legacies of empire and enduring cultural infrastructure of “race science” – for the restitution of knowledge and memory as well as of property.

The recent revival of eugenics at the heart of Britain’s political conversation is a wake-up call. Far from just places for retelling the history of empire through world culture collections, in the old contemplative mode, museums are unfinished projects, and crucial resources to be rethought and repurposed for the wider, urgent European task of understanding and facing up to the violence and loss wrought by colonialism.

 Dan Hicks is professor of contemporary archeology at the University of Oxford and author of the forthcoming The Brutish Museums

With Chinese Museums on Lockdown, Beijing’s X Museum Has Launched a New, Game-Like Way for People to Experience Art Shows at Home

This article was first published on artnet news https://news.artnet.com/art-world/museum-x-beijing-interactive-website-1794816?utm_source=American+Alliance+of+Museums&utm_campaign=63952dadca-Dispatches_Mar12_2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f06e575db6-63952dadca-37422009

Museums and art galleries in China have remained closed since late January as the country attempts to curb the spread of coronavirus, but the opportunity to experience art is altogether on lockdown.

The newly established X Museum in Beijing, which was forced to delay its planned opening date because of the virus, has launched an interactive virtual project space, giving people an opportunity to explore the institution from their own homes.

The site, created by artist Pete Jiadong Qiang, is framed as a kind of game. Users are “players,” navigating its virtual spaces with their arrow keys to enter different portals, shift perspective, and even discover a few easter eggs. The physical shape of the museum is loosely echoed in the basic graphic structure of the site’s interface, but players aren’t limited by the laws of physics and architecture as they start to poke around.

The project wasn’t a reaction to the virus, the 26-year-old founder of the museum, Michael Xufu Huang, explains—it’s been in the works since last October. But it does provide an alternative way to experience a museum.

“It is not a virtual reproduction of our physical architecture, but instead an extension of our program in a digital dimension,” Huang tells Artnet News. The site will complement the museum’s physical shows, while also supporting online-only curatorial projects designed by artists or produced in collaboration with other institutions.

The idea, adds museum curator Poppy Dongxue Wu, is to disrupt the way people use museum websites today.

“I am suspicious of how museums’ online platforms today still follow the logic of Web 1.0, producing contents with minimal interactivity,” she says. “Gamifying the experience comes with the objectives of provoking participation and curiosity.”

The opening date of the X Museum, originally set for this month, has been delayed indefinitely due to the epidemic. An ambitious triennial, which will seek to define the “zeitgeist of the millennial,” will christen the walls of the space when it does open.