Sunday, 31 January 2016

Peacocks, ostriches and a third way

Anne Pasternak, Brooklyn Museum Director (Photo: Erin Baiano for the New York Times)

A few weeks ago, I read about six curators at the Canadian Museum of History who expressed ethical concerns about the purchase of artifacts recovered from the wreck of the Empress of Ireland. These concerns included the manner in which the artifacts were collected and the fact that the museum paid for artifacts from an archeological site. Not only were their objections dismissed, but the museum hired a lawyer and threatened them with legal action, were they to repeat their concerns to anyone else. According to the museum President and CEO Mark O’Neill, “Internal discussions like this are normal, and frankly, making them public is not” (read more). This statement left me thinking which would be the ‘OK’ subjects to discuss in public and, frankly, how come the conditions of acquiring objects for the museum collections is not one of them.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Can culture make it?


Paper submitted to the Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy, which ends today in Berlin. A compilation of older posts and some new thoughts. Read 

Monday, 30 November 2015

The museum is a person: some post-NEMO thoughts



How do we get more involved? How do we take a stand? Aren’t we going to alienate some people if they classify the museum as ‘leftist’ or ‘rightist’, like newspapers? How far can we go? What are the limits? These are some of the questions I had the opportunity to discuss with colleagues attending NEMO’s annual reference, following my talk Are we failing? 

Friday, 6 November 2015

Monday, 19 October 2015

The traps

National Coach Museum, Lisbon (image taken from Boas Notícias)

Last month, it was reported by several newspapers that in the first four months of the new National Coach Museum in Lisbon there were a number of accidents due to deficiencies in the architectural design. By 'deficiencies' I mean solutions adopted (or, if you prefer, architectural elements created) which become traps for the users of the space (yes, they exist).

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Intellectual access and not an easy way out


All too often, the promotion of intellectual access by some in the cultural sector is discarded as ‘dumbing down’. Recently, I read the following in Rob Riemen’s “The eternal return of fascism”:

“In the culture of this society [the mass-society; our contemporary society] there is an ongoing trend towards the lesser, the lowest level, because this is where one finds most things people can share. This is exactly why university education indicators are levelled down, so that ‘everyone’ can study and obtain a degree. And the same will apply to the arts, because they will have to be accessible to all, not only in what concerns tuition fees, but also at the level of comprehension. After all, the fiercest indignation is directed towards what is difficult. Because what is not understood immediately by everyone is difficult, that is ‘elitist’ and therefore undemocratic.” (my translation from Greek)