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Exhibitions

Aparna Kumar, Mary Bouquet, Alexandra Woodall, Paulette Wallace, Arjmand Aziz, Elizabeth Edwards, and Petra Mosmann

EXHIBITION REVIEW ESSAYS

Unsettling the National in South Asia: My East is Your West, Venice Biennale, and After Midnight, Queens Museum, New York

Nonstop Modernity: Renovating the Rijksmuseum

A Storehouse of Unimagined Treasures: York Art Gallery and the Centre of Ceramic Art, York St Mary’s

EXHIBITION REVIEWS

The Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart

Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation, British Museum, London

Photography: A Victorian Sensation, National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh, and Framed: People and Place in Irish Photography, Ulster Museum, Belfast

Girls at the Tin Sheds: Sydney Feminist Posters 1975–1990, University Art Museum, Sydney, and Girls at the Tin Sheds (Duplicated), Verge Gallery, Sydney

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In the Museum of the Museum

Mark Thurner

Museums everywhere now display fragments of their own past displays, often in the form of ancestral cabinets presented as autobiographical introductions. What is the meaning of this introspective and retrospective “return to curiosity” in museography? Reconnoitering a fistful of iconic museums in and around London and Madrid, I suggest that the all-encompassing metatrope of curiosity begs a deeper question: What is the museum a museum of?

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Indigenous Australia

Enduring Civilisation—A Personal Reflection

Howard Morphy

Over the past few years I have been fortunate to be part of a team of people working on an exhibition at the British Museum. The curator of the exhibition is Gaye Sculthorpe, Curator of Oceania at the Museum. Lissant Bolton, Keeper of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, came up with the exhibition title, Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation. The word civilization had been part of our discussions all along and her wording resolved any doubt we might have had. Civilization came to mind because it was the British Museum, because of Ancient Greece and Rome, because of Oriental Civilization, because of Kenneth Clarke, and in my case because of the title of the book A Black Civilization by the anthropologist W. Lloyd Warner.

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Material Proximity

Experimenting with Material Strategies in Spatial Exhibition Design

Ane Pilegaard

A museum exhibition allows for close encounters with material objects. However, the distancing effect of the glass surfaces of display cases, as well as twodimensional text and picture panels, often seems to counteract the visitor’s sense of experiencing the three-dimensional material qualities of museum objects. In order to challenge this distancing effect, this article proposes an approach to spatial exhibition design that takes material aspects of both museum objects and exhibition design practices into close consideration. By developing the concept of material proximity, the article investigates the intimate space between museum object and visitor in which the object’s material qualities can be activated and interpreted. Based on an interdisciplinary bridging between different concepts of materiality from museum studies and architecture, the article concretizes the concept of material proximity through empirical analysis of a series of experimental display designs carried out at Medical Museion (the medical museum of the University of Copenhagen).

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Museums, Heritage, and Politics in the Cameroonian Grassfields

Silvia Forni

By looking at the numerous small palace museums founded in the Cameroonian Grassfields since the early 2000s, this article interrogates the meaning and function of displays of objects and narratives in the shifting social, political, and economic landscape of contemporary Cameroon. Museums in postcolonial Africa stem from very specific colonial premises, which are still relevant to the understanding of national narratives and displays. However, palace museums in the Grassfields engage in a different and somewhat contrasting use of objects and collections to present a more nuanced and complicated image of local societies. Through their eclectic and non-canonical display, these museums challenge ethnographic taxonomies and linear narratives, while serving effectively as ways to enhance the visibility and prestige of local kingdoms both nationally and internationally.

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Reports

Anna Edmundson, Margo Neale, Michèle Rivet, Brett Mason, Katie Kyung, Rebecca Gibson, Alison K. Brown, Tatiana Argounova-Low, Maria Lucia de Niemeyer Matheus Loureiro, Charlotte Hyltén-Cavallius, and Fredrik Svanberg

MEETING REPORTS

Return of the Native: Contestation, Collaboration, and Co-authorship in Museum Spaces, Australian National University, 18–19 June 2015

Access Is a Human Right: The Federation of International Human Rights Museums Conference, Te Papa, Wellington, 23–25 September 2015

PROJECT REPORTS

Narrative Objects: The Sakha Summer Festival and Cultural Revitalization

Object, Document, and Materiality: Outline of an Ongoing Research Project

Museums Beyond Homogeneity: Museums and Diversity in Sweden

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Subtracting the Narrative

Trade, Collecting, and Forgetting in the Kongo Coast Friction Zone during the Late Nineteenth Century

Zachary Kingdon

Museums can be theorized as sites of forgetting. Furthermore, British traders who collected carved tusks made by Kongo-speaking peoples of the Central African coast in the nineteenth century appear to have had no interest in accounting for the complex narrative scenes that embellished these works. Recent scholarship advocates applying an “archaeological sensibility” (Harrison 2013) that conceptualizes museum collections as “assemblages” in order to reveal new knowledge about collections. This article employs a version of this approach by applying an ichnography, or “science of traces” (Byrne 2013), to the visual narratives carved on tusks in the World Museum Liverpool collection and to the textual narratives of British traders’ from the period, to reveal discrepant and elided themes in these sources. The insights generated by probing the significance of these narrative disjunctions helps provide a “thicker” understanding of the dynamic, cosmopolitan “zone” of cross-cultural interaction from which the tusks were acquired.

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Assessing Museums Online

The Digital Heritage Sustainability (DHS) Framework

Ana Luisa Sánchez Laws

Digital materials, the primary resources for the production of contemporary culture, have brought many challenges to the heritage sector in relation to their curation, conservation, and dissemination. Digital heritage sustainability involves practices that help ensure the maintenance, enrichment, and enjoyment of digital heritage resources over periods of time that span across generations. The digital heritage sustainability (DHS) framework presented in this article provides an analytic basis for understanding the challenges associated with the use of digital materials in museums and for assessing how digital heritage resources can be sustained over time. As an example of use, the framework is applied to the Museum of London's digital resources.

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Book Review Essays

Duncan M. Campbell, Alison Petch, Sarah-Neel Smith, Ryan Brown-Haysom, and Nélia Dias

DENTON, Kirk A., Exhibiting the Past: Historical Memory and the Politics of Museums in Postsocialist China

LU, Tracey L.-D., Museums in China: Power, Politics, and Identities VARUTTI, Marzia, Museums in China: The Politics of Representation after Mao

HARRISON, Rodney, et al., eds., Reassembling the Collection: Ethnographic Museums and Indigenous Agency

MEJCHER-ATASSI, Sonja, and John Pedro SCHWARTZ, eds., Archives, Museums, and Collecting Practices in the Modern Arab World

PAINE, Crispin, Religious Objects in Museums: Private Lives and Public Duties

WINTLE, Claire, Colonial Collecting and Display: Encounters with Material Culture from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

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Book Reviews

Elizabeth Plumridge, Conal McCarthy, Kaitlin McCormick, Mark O'Neill, Lee Davidson, Vivian Ting, Alison K. Brown, and Arkotong Longkumer

BENNETT, Tony, Making Culture, Changing Society

GOLDING, Viv, and Wayne MODEST, eds., Museums and Communities: Curators, Collections and Collaboration

KRMPOTICH, Cara, and Laura PEERS, eds., This Is Our Life: Haida Material Heritage and Changing Museum Practice

MESSAGE, Kylie, Museums and Social Activism: Engaged Protest

SCOTT, Carol, ed., Museums and Public Value: Creating Sustainable Futures

SU, Xiaobo, and Peggy TEO, The Politics of Heritage Tourism in China: A View from Lijiang

VAN BROEKHOVEN, Laura, et al., eds., Sharing Knowledge and Cultural Heritage: First Nations of the Americas—Studies in Collaboration with Indigenous Peoples from Greenland, North and South America

WEST, Andy, Museums, Colonialism and Identity: A History of Naga Collections in Britain