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Open access

Architectures of Appropriation

Salvage, Repatriation, and the Politics of Jean Prouvé’s Maisons Tropicales

Leonie Treier

The Maisons Tropicales are three prefabricated housing structures designed by Jean Prouvé. Fabricated in France, they were transported to and assembled in Brazzaville and Niamey, then part of the French colonies, around 1950. Their design was tied closely to the belief in the so-called civilizing and enlightening power of European modernist design and, thereby, also the French colonial agenda. In the early 2000s, an American collector, Robert Rubin, and a French art dealer, Eric Touchaleaume, “repatriated” the houses to France. There, they were transformed into and celebrated as icons of French modern design, while their colonial histories were ignored. This article analyzes the importance of discourse in this transformation and how it reflects ongoing dynamics of power and dispossession in the art world. Rubin and Touchaleaume simultaneously employed conflicting narratives mirroring anthropological “salvage” and “repatriation” discourses to describe the Maisons’ removal. The case study highlights the moral weight associated with the language around processes of repatriation, the nested relationships between heritage and the market, and the continuation of colonial practices of dispossession.

Open access

Isabelle Williams, Florence Esson, Yunci Cai, Lee Davidson, Valentin Gorbachev, Nathan Jones, Kirsty Kernohan, Heidi Weber, Xiaomei Zhao, and Xuelei Li

Women Mean Business: Colonial businesswomen in New Zealand, Catherine Bishop. Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2019.

Imagining Decolonisation, Rebecca Kiddle with Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton, and Amanda Thomas, eds. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 2020.

Cosmopolitan Ambassadors: International Exhibitions, Cultural Diplomacy and the Polycentral Museum, Lee Davidson and Leticia Pérez Castellanos. Wilmington, DE: Vernon Press, 2019.

Museums, International Exhibitions and China’s Cultural Diplomacy, Linda Da Kong. London: Routledge, 2021.

Curating (Post-)Socialist Environments, Philipp Schorch and Daniel Habit. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2021.

A Cultural Arsenal for Democracy: The World War II Work of US Museums, Clarissa J. Ceglio. Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2022.

Mobile Museums: Collections in Circulation, Felix Driver, Mark Nesbitt, and Caroline Cornish, eds. London: UCL Press, 2021.

Écrire la muséologie: Méthodes de recherche, rédaction, communication [Writing museology, Research methods, writing, communication], François Mairesse and Fabien Van Geert. Paris: Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle Ed, 2021.

Cultural Renewal in Cambodia: Academic Activism in the Neoliberal Era, Philippe Peycam. Leiden: Brill, 2020.

Animal Classification in Central China: From the late Neolithic to the early Bronze Age, Ningning Dong. Oxford: BAR Publishing, 2021.

Open access

Changing Times - A Time for Change

Museums in the COVID-19 Era

Noga Raved and Havatzelet Yahel

The current research analyzes worldwide trends in which museums acted in response to a new global social health order. It is based on information from a survey we conducted among members of the International Committee of Regional Museums in addition to other surveys conducted by international museums and cultural bodies. We tried to understand how museums can remain relevant to their audiences, how they might evolve in this changing environment, and how they operate to reflect the new situation. Our main findings show that various methods were used, including shifting to digital platforms, changing physical operations, refocusing on local audiences, collecting materials relating to the COVID-19 crisis, and curating special exhibitions dedicated to the pandemic and its impact on daily lives.

Open access

Citizen Curators

Cultural Democracy in Action?

Tehmina Goskar

This article presents findings and reflections of the Citizen Curators program, designed and led by the author on behalf of Cornwall Museums Partnership and seven participating museums. Dubbed an experiment in cultural democracy, as well as providing a novel alternative pathway into museum work, Citizen Curators took place between 2017 and 2021 with four cohorts resulting in more than 80 successful completers, one-fifth of whom went on to jobs in the sector. The program was designed as an action research project in curatorial education in an era of equity, socially engaged practice, and ethical awareness. The article presents qualitative and quantitative findings on the program’s design, impact, and what was learned about the realities of cocuration, diversity, and inclusion over the four-year program.

Open access

Climate Change and Resilience Perspectives

Brazilian Museums and Their Challenges

Marcus Vinicius Rosário da Silva and Sheila Walbe Ornstein

Brazilian museum operations and maintenance practices, as well as collections and educational activities, can be important actors in communicating the risks of climate change and can be examples of best practice in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Documentary research for this article was conducted with museum institutions that promote operations and maintenance best practices applicable to the sector in Brazil. As a result, Brazilian cases were assessed for greenhouse gas emission and sustainable practice metrics focusing on energy efficiency. The results still show a low Brazilian commitment by the museum sector in the combat against climate change.

Open access

Contextualizing the Artistic Repertoire in Museums

The Role of Nonartistic Factors

Liora Aldes and Tally Katz-Gerro

To remain financially sustainable while promoting cultural activity and operating within artistic, symbolic, and cultural norms, museums must consider a multitude of commercial and organizational elements. This article examines the impact of economic, organizational, and structural characteristics of art museums on the repertoire of art they exhibit. Using a mixed-methods approach, we draw on data pertaining to 11 art museums in Israel that are supported by the Ministry of Culture, analyzing administrative data collected yearly from the museums from 2000 to 2014. Next, we analyze 20 interviews with museum directors, curators, and artists to further explore the findings that emerge from the analysis of administrative data. Findings indicate three factors that influence a museum’s artistic repertoire: revenue structure, museum location (center or periphery), and the museum director’s preferences. We discuss these factors and explain the significant role that nonartistic factors play in shaping cultural outcomes.

Free access

Conal McCarthy and Alison K. Brown

Museum studies is an academic and practical field of research that is ever expanding and alive with potential, opportunity, and challenge paralleling the extraordinary growth of museums in every part of the world. Museum Worlds: Advances in Research, launched in 2012, has responded to the need for a rigorous, in-depth review of current work in museums and related industries, including galleries, libraries, archives, and cultural heritage. The inspiration for the journal came from Howard Morphy, Professor of Anthropology at the Australian National University in Canberra, along with founding editors Kylie Message, also at the ANU, and Sandra Dudley from the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester.

Open access

Simon Hilton-Smith, M. Elizabeth Weiser, Sarah Russ, Kristin Hussey, Penny Grist, Natalie Carfora, Nalani Wilson-Hokowhitu, Fei Chen, Yi Zheng, and Xiaorui Guan

[Re:]Entanglements: Colonial Collections in Decolonial Times, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge (22 June 2021 to 20 April 2022)

Greenwood Rising Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma

First Americans: Tribute to Indigenous Strength and Creativity, Volkenkunde, Leiden, the Netherlands (May 2020 to August 2023)

Kirchner and Nolde: Up for Discussion, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (April–August 2021)

Australians & Hollywood, National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra

Free/State: The 2022 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (4 March–5 June 2022)

Te Aho Tapu Hou: The New Sacred Thread, Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato (7 August 2021 to 9 January 2022)

West Encounters East: A Cultural Conversation between Chinese and European Ceramics, Shanghai Museum (28 October 2021 to 16 January 2022)

The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum’s Permanent Exhibition, Shanghai

The Way of Nourishment: Health-preserving Culture in Traditional Chinese Medicine, The Chengdu Museum, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China (29 June–31 October 2021)

Open access

The Future of Museums

Recover and Reimagine (A Conversation)

Craig Barker, Helena Robinson, James L. Flexner, Anna Lawrenson, and Alex Burchmore

The following conversation took place on 18 May 2021 during a panel discussion to coincide with marking the six months since the opening of the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney, along with the annual occurrence of International Museum Day.

Open access

Joanna Cobley, Nālani Wilson-Hokowhitu, Maree Mills, and Rachel Yates

As greater numbers of community groups experience social disconnect, museums need to find better methods of engagement in order to remain relevant. We know that museums are no longer neutral spaces; in fact, they have a role to play in activism, which means they can shift their mission to support local communities celebrate and protect their Indigenous heritage (Drubay and Singhal 2020; Message 2018; Shelton 2013). What follows is a meditation by researchers in Aotearoa New Zealand who engage with Pacific-Indigenous concepts and museum practice in unique ways. Our big idea is to see “Oceania through Indigenous eyes” (Lagi-Maama 2019: 291) and, in particular, the eyes of Nālani Wilson-Hokowhitu with mo‘okū‘auhau to Kalapana, Hawai‘i, and Moloka‘i Nui a Hina; Maree Mills with whakapapa to Tongariro, Taupō, and Ngāti Tūwharetoa; and Rachel Yates, who hails from Vaisala, Sāmoa. As a collective, their curatorial talano kaōrero/mo‘olelo/stories connect to current debates in the museum world where local problems need local solutions. In this instance, Wilson-Hokowhitu and Mills share the ideas that shaped their mahi at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato in Hamilton, and Yates has just finished a COVID-19 project as Curator of Pacific Cultures at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington.