Sunday, 25 September 2016

Naming the impact: it may be Telmo or Rafael or Gustavo…

Telmo Martins, member of the Orquestra Geração (Photo: Maria Vlachou)

A few years ago, I saw the documentary Waste Land. It is about the work the Brazilian visual artist Vic Moniz created together with garbage pickers at the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Moniz said that he wished to change the lives of a group of people with the same materials they deal with every day. So, together they used garbage to create large-size portraits of the garbage pickers, which were later sold in auction and the money was distributed among the garbage pickers. The works were presented in exhibitions in a number of contemporary art museums.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016


Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, 2016 (image taken from You Tube)

Having followed the heated discussion regarding the appearance of Muslim women athletes in the Olympics with full-body suits, as well as the ban of the burkini on some French beaches, I find that some facts are – deliberately or not – left out of the equation.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Managing museums: a portuguese case

"Panels of St. Vincent" at NMAA (image taken from the National Museum of Ancient Art Facebook page)

The claim of a new legal status, of a special status, by the National Museum of Ancient Art (NMAA) in Lisbon has resulted in a very healthy debate among museum professionals in Portugal, especially (and unfortunately) after the announcement of the Minister of Culture that this status will actually be given to the museum. Independent of our criticism, positive or negative, of this case and this process, there is no doubt that we owe this very necessary debate to the NMAA, its director, António Filipe Pimentel, and to the entire museum staff*.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Guest post: Social role of museums; new migrations, new challenges, by David Fleming

Photo taken from Twitter @IcomOfficiel

Quote from our MOOC (Massive Open Online Course):

“This course has opened my eyes. Never before thought of museums as being harbingers of change in anything.”

The same person wrote later:

“Yes, my opinion has changed and I’m much more convinced that museums have a positive role to play in achieving and enhancing social cohesion. I had been stuck in my ‘sixties experience of the passive museum, storing items for the mere sake of storage. Today they are put to use to make a positive difference in the world.”

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Guest post: The ethical museum, by David Fleming

Image taken from Twitter @IcomOfficiel
I would like to begin by quoting from Janet Marstine’s book entitled The Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics (2011, page xxiii):

“The traditional museum ethics discourse…is unable to meet the needs of museums and society in the twenty-first century”.

I will continue by quoting the statement on ethical behaviour that my Trustees at National Museums Liverpool (NML) discussed just last week:

NML statement on ethical considerations

In several areas of our work, as we find ourselves more and more reliant on funding from other than our own democratically-elected Government, NML’s commitment to behaving in an ethical manner at all times is leading us to consider carefully what decisions we should make.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Government reflections on access to culture

"MAP - The chartography game", a performace by the association A PELE (image taken from the website of the National Theatre D. Maria II)

The Culture White Paper (published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sports in March 2016) sets out how the British government will support the cultural sector in the coming years. It’s the first document of its kind in 50 years and the second ever published in the UK.

The document opens by quoting British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who states: “If you believe in publicly-funded arts and culture as I passionately do, then you must also believe in equality of access, attracting all, and welcoming all.”

Sunday, 29 May 2016

First in our hearts

Image courtesy of the National Museum Soares dos Reis
How could we define the 'first' museum? Is it the one that best fulfills its mission? Or the one thar comes first to mind when you hear the word 'museum' (every marketeer’s dream)? Is it the one that has the biggest collection or the one that has the best collection? Is it the one that makes more exhibitions? Is the 'first' museum the one that produces a lot of news for the media, but continues to work for the same elite? Or is it the one that rarely makes the news, but works to diversify its 'elites'? Which one deserves to be considered 'first'? And who assigns the 'primacy', the museum to itself or the audiences, actual and potential, that benefit from its action?