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Open access

Simon Knell


This article is a re-edited version of the opening prelude to the author's The Museum's Borders: On the Challenge of Knowing and Remembering Well (Routledge, 2021). Based on reportage concerning the Windrush scandal, this article makes the case for the museum to be understood as an autonomous institution critical to knowledge-based democracies. The scandal, exposed in 2018, was the result of the British Government's “hostile environment,” a brutal approach to immigration that ensnared historic migrants to Britain from the Caribbean. Resulting in state violence against Black British citizens, it revealed the degree to which Britain remained mired in institutional racism. Museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions played a critical role in recovering and asserting the history and legitimacy of these people.

Open access

Critique, Dialogue, and Action

Museum Representation in Black Panther

Susan Dine


In recent decades, the museum world has devoted time and resources to studying the opinions and actions of their visitors; however, it is much more difficult to access perspectives of a more general public that includes non-visitors. This article situates popular visual culture as a form of engagement between museum professionals and the public. By analyzing the museum scene of the Marvel Studios movie Black Panther, as well as responses to it, and then contextualizing these within the history and current events of the museum field, I identify ways in which popularly received visual culture can spur change in other cultural industries—creating productive critiques that can evolve into impactful dialogue and action to model responsive research and more inclusive museum practices.

Open access

Conal McCarthy

After a tumultuous year around the globe in the wake of COVID 19, the cultural sector, including museums, galleries, and other institutions, as well as universities, have emerged in 2021 scathed but still functioning. As an academic journal engaged with professional museum practice, it is to be expected that Museum Worlds 9 will reflect the unprecedented impact of the pandemic. If the 2020 issue was difficult to collate and produce, this year's issue was doubly so: academics and students are busy, stressed, and preoccupied with teaching online, while museum professionals are overworked, or out of work, or at home with their museums closed, and there are few exhibitions and public programs. Even the publishing industry seems to have been severely affected: new titles have been delayed, it is tricky to get books sent to readers due to holdups with freight, and writers, reviewers, and editors are busy, busy, busy.

Open access

Bruno Brulon Soares, Jennifer Coombes, Ailish Wallace-Buckland, and Hollie Tawhiao

The Museum of Removals in Vila Autódromo, Rio de Janeiro by Bruno Brulon Soares

Different Histories: A Story of Three Exhibitions in Canberra by Jennifer Coombes

National Treasures: Airing New Zealand's History on the Small Screen by Ailish Wallace-Buckland

E Hina e! E Hine e! Mana Waahine Maaori/Maoli of Past, Present and Future by Hollie Tawhiao

Open access

Sheila K. Hoffman, Aya Tanaka, Bai Xue, Ni Na Camellia Ng, Mingyuan Jiang, Ashleigh McLarin, Sandra Kearney, Riria Hotere-Barnes, and Sumi Kim

Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, Massachusetts by Sheila K. Hoffman

Local Cultures Assisting Revitalization: 10 Years Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, National Museum of Ethology (Minpaku), Osaka by Aya Tanaka

Tianjin Museum of Finance, Tianjin by Bai Xue

Vegetation and Universe: The Collection of Flower and Bird Paintings, Zhejiang Provincial Museum, Hangzhou by Ni Na Camellia Ng

Three Kingdoms: Unveiling the Story, Tokyo National Museum and Kyushu National Museum, Japan, and China Millennium Monument, Nanshan Museum, Wuzhong Museum, and Chengdu Wuhou Shrine, People’s Republic of China by Mingyuan Jiang

Tempest, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart by Ashleigh McLarin

Wonders from the South Australian Museum, South Australian Museum, Adelaide by Sandra Kearney

Brett Graham, Tai Moana, Tai Tangata, Govett Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth by Riria Hotere-Barnes

The “Inbetweenness” of the Korean Gallery at the Musée Guimet, Paris by Sumi Kim

Open access

The Making of Conservation Science

Report on the Brill-Nuncius Seminar on the Material and Visual History of Science, organized by Sven Dupré (Utrecht University/University of Amsterdam) and Esther van Duijn (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam), 29–30 April 2021

Tijana Žakula

On 9 October 1947, the National Gallery in London opened the Exhibition of Cleaned Pictures. Some seventy masterpieces that had undergone various treatments since 1936 were brought together and exhibited in this groundbreaking show. Much criticized, but also praised by many, the exhibition sparked the so-called “cleaning controversy.” It goes without saying that both the exhibition as well as the ensuing controversy impacted generations of scholars of all stripes. So much so that the exhibition was mentioned in virtually all the lectures that were delivered during the Brill Nuncius seminar held on 29–30 April 2021, which focused on the formation of conservation science in the post-World War II period, from the 1940s through the 1970s.

Open access

Museums and the Pandemic, One Year On

Some Reflections on Academic Resilience

Joanna Cobley


Written as notes from the field, this article explores the overlaps between researcher development and the idea of academic resilience within the museum and heritage studies community. During a climate of uncertainty and rapid change, it argues that alongside the academic literature, positive psychology methods transfer well into the researcher development space. Methods involved informal email conversations with museum and heritage practitioners united by how COVID-19 and border lockdown presented new opportunities to connect, share ideas, and rethink. Presented as short narratives, these findings show how researchers and practitioners in northern Europe, the United Kingdom and Canada share similar concerns to those in the southern hemisphere about climate change, equity, well-being, resilience, and sustainability. These narratives highlight the importance of encouraging critical engagement, finding ways to traverse time zones that build international networks and provide leadership opportunities for researchers at any level.

Open access

Reawakening the Curious Muses

Research, Curatorship, Collections, and Publics at Copenhagen's Medical Museion

Ken Arnold and Thomas Söderqvist

This conversation between the founding and current directors of the multi-award-winning Medical Museion at the University of Copenhagen was held online, COVID-19-style, in the spring of 2021. We have different backgrounds and instincts. One of us is an academic historian of science, who almost accidentally ended up also running a museum. The other has spent decades working in museums, and then found himself hired as a university professor. Here we discuss the evolution of Medical Museion over the last two decades—the Museion concept, the integration of research and curatorship, the interaction of art and science, the balance between historical contextualization and aesthetic “presence,” the Faustian pact with foundations, and so forth—plus some visions for its future development.

Open access

Ruination and the William Jones Affair

Regenerative Debris and Contested Narratives in the Archives

Michael Armand P. Canilao


This article uses the early twentieth-century Ilongot ethnographic fieldwork and the death of anthropologist William Jones in the Philippines as a vista into what the scholar of colonialism, Ann Stoler, refers to as ruination (). I argue that the case of William Jones provides an important glimpse into colonial projects in two ways. First, it illustrates the intersection of anthropological expeditions and colonialism. Second, it argues that the colonial project itself produces archives, and in turn, colonial subjects through the making and reading of these archives. I argue for the use of incidental intelligence () in navigating archival regenerative debris fields. Using archival data including court documents, fieldwork notes, and diaries, the article shows how colonial relationships are shaped, contested, and racialized. At the center of this process for the making of archives and the shaping of colonial subjects is Jones’ fieldwork as well as “his people,” the Ilongots, who are romanticized headhunters.

Open access

Sara Selwood


Drawing on a literature review of over two hundred items, this commentary describes what drove the English cultural sector's interest in the social sciences from the 1980s, and the social sciences’ interest in the cultural sector. The social sciences offered the cultural sector the means to evidence and advocate its assertions of social and economic impact in line with government requirements. Their economic valuations and sociological analyses of its patterns of employment were both written on commission and independently. But despite the potential for complementary collaborations, the relationship between the social sciences and the cultural sector has been subject to the conflicting interests of the various constituencies involved. Various economists have commented on the costs of financial value being held in higher regard than human value. Perhaps this will mark a moment when cultural policy and those activities that the state-supports will become more unequivocally celebrated for adding value to society.