CASE STUDIES #1
Sarah Edwards, PhD Candidate, working as artist at Museum Victoria, Australia
Call of the Wild: an art/science collaboration
Environmental issues and climate change put museums in the spotlight in the 21st Century. Natural history museums play a critical role in providing researchers and the broader community with evidence of aspects of the environment that have become extinct or are critically endangered.
Museum Victoria is home to over 16 million objects. As a practicing artist, I am working in collaboration with the museum’s natural history curators to create a series of artworks that examine the critical role the curator plays as mediator between object, viewer and curatorial practice, in order to explore the relationship between the environment and the museum’s role in preserving it.
One specific art project has involved the museum’s unique collection of frog calls including a number of species that have become extinct within the last fifty years. Working with Dr Murray Littlejohn (Zoology, University of Melbourne) who recorded the three hundred hours of calls, I have engaged the frog call collection as evidence of the impact the expansion of our built environment and global warming have on this highly susceptible animal.
Through the collaboration, I wish to bring to light the critical role curators and collection managers play in preserving collections that have the power to inform future decision makers about human impact on the planet. As an artist working with a natural history collection, I have the opportunity to provide an avenue by which to re-present these calls beyond the walls of the museum. In providing an alternative method by which to bring these calls “back to life” - re-presenting them as an overlay into the built environment that aided their demise – I aim to highlight the important role museums have in preserving our fragile environment, and remind audiences that these calls are now only available through the valuable work of the museum.
Naitsikile N. Iizyenda, Operations Manager, Museums Association of Namibia
The Challenges of developing Community-based Management Committees: A Case Study of the Munyondo gwa Kapande Cultural Village Project
The heritage sector in Africa faces particular management challenges for two reasons. Firstly, a strong emphasis is placed on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and the significance of sites which means that community-based management is important to ensure a sense of community ownership. Secondly, the fact that most museums in Namibia are small means that the role of the Management Board becomes important with the Museums Association of Namibia giving a lot of emphasis to governance and the training of museum boards.
In addition to the awareness of the need for heritage preservation, heritage development in Namibia is perceived by communities as being linked to the possibility of developing sustainable cultural tourism and income generation. This case study looks at one such project, The Munyondo gwa Kapande Cultural village situated near Rundu in the Kavango Region of Namibia.
The Munyondo gwa Kapande is a legendary tree situated near the town of Rundu in the Kavango Region. The story goes that Kapande was a famous drummer who was swallowed by a tree. It is said that today on some occasions if you listen carefully, you can still hear the sound of the drum beating.
In 2006 a group of interested community members approached the Mbunza Traditional Authority to request land around the Munyondo Tree to develop the area into a Cultural Village, because of the unique oral traditions associated with the tree and as a way of involving the youth in cultural heritage preservation. The project was later selected as one of eleven pilot projects under the MDGF Programme for Sustainable Cultural Tourism in Namibia. The implementation of the project is administered by the Museums Association of Namibia.
With no legal structure in place, a community based management committee was created to assist with the implementation and management of the cultural village. This case study looks at the reality of how a community-based management committee functions, the challenges they face and recommendations to achieve an effective committee.
Virginia Fernanda González, Collections Manager, National History Museum of the Cabildo and May Revolution, Argentina
Conservation and Commissioning Wealth Building Value
Buenos Aires, in recent years has made a strong public investment, holding an almost efficient work of conservation, restoration and promotion of their architectural heritage and collective, beginning with its Historic Protection Area with their programs of “Conservation and Commissioning Wealth Building Value”, with the creation of the School Workshop aimed at people unemployed / underemployed and social vulnerability to train them in the craft of artisans and restorers for the recovery of architectural heritage (in which most reside) to form skilled labor in conservation, restoration and maintenance of heritage. Another approach was the collective equity investment and are popular as Notable Bars, and promoting tourism in the historic districts. The criticism of this policy of heritage conservation is selectively used in pursuit of cultural tourism, the current slogan is “Tourism is progress, a tourist, a job” at the expense of heritage sites and not so profitable. Likewise, the balance of the management of the various directions of the autonomous city property is positive.
In our country there are skilled professionals, there are programs and proposals, as well as theoretical concepts at the level of advanced countries, but this does not match the power and government budgets, private investments (hard to achieve public-private agreements) with local interests and above all have the tools and products to work on it. Interventions safeguard and rescue techniques of diverse heritages, restoration and reuse of architectural and building heritage, movable heritage and require a response methodology, the application of theoretical principles and the necessary knowledge and fair evaluation of the traditional or next generation.
Abi Kusno, Program Manager, Directorate Cultural Heritage and Museum, Ministry of Education and Culture, Indonesia
The National Movement to Love Museums: A Case Study from Indonesia
Indonesia had more than 200 museums. Sadly most of the museums are in a poor condition. Their collections are poorly managed and their permanent exhibitions are unattractive. The museums’ public programs also don’t appeal to the public. Museums are seen as the spooky-old-fashioned places to go. Thus the public’s interest in visiting museums is decreasing. The public prefers to visit shopping malls rather than museums.
To fix that situation the Indonesian Government, under the Directorate of Museum of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (now Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museum of Ministry of Education and Culture), launched a program called The National Movement to Love Museums from 2010 to 2014. Activities of that program varied from redesigning museums, choosing museum ambassadors, creating new museum regulations, and funding Masters scholarships for museum personnel. The aim of this project is to make Indonesian museums better able to face the challenges of the 21st Century in order to win back visitors to museums.
This paper will address evaluation of that project two years after it first launched, outlining which programs were a success and which ones were failures. The evaluation will be use to improve the Indonesia’s National Movement to Love Museums project in the future.
Dr Michail A. Bryzgalov, Director General, The Glinka National Museum Consortium of Musical Culture, Moscow, Russia
The Glinka State Museum of Musical Culture and The Association of Musical Museums: Challenges of re-structuring in the year of museum’s centenary in 2012
The presentation will focus on the history and present of the museum, its initiatives to consolidate community of musical museums in Russia and CIS and overview of management challenges it has to come through in the course of its re-structuring in a view of its 100-year history celebrations in 2012.
The Glinka National Museum Consortium of Musical Culture (Moscow, Russia), which has the status of a particularly valuable object of cultural heritage of the Russian Federation. Nowadays it is a consortium of six museums located in the historical centre of Moscow. There are nearly a million items in the museum funds in total. This is the world's biggest multidisciplinary collection that aims to cover all elements of the concept of “musical culture”.
The Association of Musical Museums was set up in November 2009 with objective to promote co-operation between the musical museums across Russia, facilitate development and implementation of federal, regional and international cultural programs. Currently the Association represents as members more than 40 musical museums in Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
In 2011 the museum had to undergo major re-structuring in order to stay up to the expectations of target audiences and survive fierce competition of Moscow museum and cultural landscape. The process involved analysis of the current museum staff structure, core museum process mapping and introduction of new models of working. For the first time in the museum history a Strategic Development Plan for 2011-2018 had been introduced to the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and it was accepted as a state program for the museum development.
Phillipa Tocker, Executive Director, Museums Aotearoa, New Zealand
Museums: all things to all people?
It is axiomatic that new approaches and ways of doing things are required to keep museums and galleries engaged in and with contemporary society. Examples of commonly adopted innovations are interactive exhibits and social media. The challenge this creates for any museum organisation is how to keep adding (and how to resource additions), without subtracting something. If you add a new strand to the work program, it is likely that something will be squeezed or dropped altogether to create the necessary capacity. This begs the strategic question, what is the role of the museum in contemporary society? Or more to the point, what is the role of any particular museum, and how does it change over time? For, not only does the role of ‘the museum’ change, but also the ways in which any particular museum changes and adapts to changing times - economic, social, environmental, technological...
Looking back through history, museums and similar cultural institutions have occupied varying positions relative to their social/historical contexts. For example, art/artists/patrons have acted in support of the status quo, or as protest and catalysts for change. Similarly, museums have been built as monuments to reinforce political power such as empire and colonization, or as a forum for education and social change, such as holocaust museums.
What does this mean for museums now? I will offer some case studies to encourage the beginnings of a debate about how museums might use strategic self-reflection to ensure their continuing relevance in times of change. This requires more than audience and stakeholder research: it requires a fundamental examination and understanding of the museum’s origins, collections, allegiances, resources; and its role in its local/regional/national/global contexts.