Category Archives: conference

“Cultural Property and Asset Repatriation” panel discussion

You should go check out this discussion over at Here’s the blurb:

Panelists discuss cultural property issues, asset repatriation and the release of the 2007 Yearbook of Cultural Property Law (Left Coast Press).

Panelists include: Richard Buxbaum, Jackson H. Ralston Professor of International Law, UC Berkeley; Edward Luby, associate professor of museum studies, San Francisco State University; and Rob Roy Smith, cultural resources protection attorney with the law firm Morisset, Schlosser, Joswiak and McGaw.

It’s on the long side, so if you don’t have time to watch it all I’d skip ahead to the segment called “Q7 – Rightful Ownership”. It brings up an issue that came up a lot in discussion in ANTH 433 this term: how to deal with repatriation of goods that were sold by communities a long time ago? Even if the sale was legal, how do we know it wasn’t sold under duress? Do descendants have the right to reclaim something their ancestors sold? The panel doesn’t provide an answer, and indeed it couldn’t, complex as this issue is.


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Maxwell Anderson on “Through the Looking Glass: Museums and Internet-Based Transparency”

I recently came across this talk on the Smithsonian’s website entitled “Through the Looking Glass: Museums and Internet-Based Transparency”, given by Dr. Maxwell Anderson, the CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Take a look.

Dr. Anderson gives some great examples of how the IMA is using its website to become more accessible to its audience. Though it doesn’t deal directly with repatriation, I like that museums are taking steps towards becoming more transparent. Much of the issue with repatriation is the difficulty indigenous communities have with obtaining information. Beginning to make more information available online is going to make for easier communication between these communities and the museums.

And it’s about time museums started doing this more. During our class discussions and the reactions of museums to repatriation claims, I’ve perceived a pretty negative reputation associated with art museums. The general consensus seems to be that art museums are pretty stodgy, closed off institutions that care only about the objects in their collections and not so much about their provenance or cultural significance. You only have to look at the list of museums who signed the Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums. They are all major American or European art museums.

In case you are not familiar with the Declaration, it’s a statement made by a group of museums saying that they label themselves “universal museums” and exist to serve the whole world and contain its global heritage, and should thus be immune to repatriation claims. It has come under fire since its inception in 2002, recently when the Art Institute of Chicago held an exhibit of African art, this past summer. (Source)

So I welcome these developments coming out of the IMA. Museum websites being, for the most part, quite confusing to navigate, I hope other institutions start making better use of online resources.

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Musée du Quai Branly symposium on human remains

Last year, in February 2008, the Musée du Quai Branly held a symposium on human remains in museums. I’ve been working my way through the transcript of the symposium, because it all seems a bit hypocritical to me. After all, as far as I know the museum still refuses to return Maori warrior heads in its collection, despite the requests of the Te Papa museum. I’m curious about how Michael Brown can say the following

With few exceptions, the existence of the remains of indigenous people in the world’s metropolitan museums is a shameful vestige of colonialism and a continuing affront to human dignity.

in such a context, and I commend him for it.

Press release about the symposium (in French)

Full transcript of the symposium (in French, English and Maori)

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Training event: The Social Media Exchange for the Museums (London/UK, 1 June 2009)

via The Attic

From H-Museum:

MONDAY 1 JUNE 2009 – The Resource Centre London, N7

As we know, it’s more important than ever to make sure your web presence is
reaching as many people as possible. But are you making the most of your
online strategies? Are you waiting for people to come to you – when you
could be going directly to them? Social networking, blogging, podcasting
and the plethora of new social media applications create great opportunities
for the Cultural and Heritage sectors. They’re cost-effective, quick to get
going and have the potential to reach and engage new audiences.

On Monday 1 June sounddelivery is hosting The Social Media Exchange for the
Museums, Cultural and Heritage Sectors in London. This practical training
event is specifically aimed at staff working in museums, galleries,
libraries, archives and heritage sites. The day will feature bitesize
masterclasses, practical social media surgeries, discussions, and
collaboration and networking opportunities. This event will bring together
experts in the sector who are using social media tools and will share their
experiences with you.

For more information and do download a booking form all you have to do is
go to

You will:
. Get a solid understanding of not just the what and why but the how of
social media in an informal and relaxed environment.
. Get up to speed on the changing media climate, the increasing role of
social media and how this can apply to your work.
. Be given practical examples of how podcasts, social networks, blogs,
digital storytelling,twitter and other applications are actively being used
in the sector.
. Meet like-minded people within the sector who are using social media tools
in their work and who want to share what they have learnt with their peers.
. Actively participate in sessions and be encouraged to bring your ideas and
projects to the event for development and brainstorming.

The day will include:
. 20 Interactive Masterclasses focusing on social media, journalism and
. Practical group surgeries in blogging, podcasting, twitter, video and
mobile technology.
. A panel discussion including representatives from Google.
. Opportunities to make connections, learn new skills, compare, contrast and
bounce ideas off other delegates
. Liveblogging, Twittering, Live Podcast Production, Video Feedback.

Masterclasses include:
. Powerful Podcasts
. The Power of the Blog
. Mobile Learning – from mobile phones to the iPpod Touch
. Building up a social media presence from scratch
. How to promote your events online … on a budget
. Digital Storytelling – creating content through audio slideshows
. Using social media to tackle the learning agenda
. Getting Savvy with Social Networks
. Social Inclusion and Social Media
. How to Engage the Media

This is the opportunity for you and your colleagues to make connections,
compare, contrast and bounce ideas off other organisations. You’ll leave the
event with practical skills, fresh ideas and inspiration.

We would really appreciate it if you would forward the details of this event
to your networks and colleagues.

Best wishes

Jude Habib
Director sounddelivery
07803 721481

I love the growing interest museums have in social media. The Smithsonian Institution has been particularly active in this sphere. I recently listened to and enjoyed the Folkways Collection podcast, and there are many other podcasts to choose from. Museums twitter too, and they are worth following if you are a twitter user. Try @Smithsonian, @ManitobaMuseum, @brooklynmusem and @MuseumModernArt. I’d love to get MOA (UBC’s Museum of Anthropology) on twitter, I’ll have to remember to suggest that.

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