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Spermaceti is a waxy substance found in the head cavities of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus and P. catodon). This substance had a variety of commercial applications from the end of the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century, such as candles, soap, cosmetics and other compounds. Spermaceti was also occasionally used as wax for modeling sculptures. In order to date such artworks the marine reservoir effect (MRE) has to be considered. The chemical library of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (Paris, France) contains samples of spermaceti studied by the French chemist M. E. Chevreul (1786–1889) at the beginning of the 19th century. Eight samples of substances preserved in their original containers were 14C dated. According to the whaling practices and the publications of Chevreul, we estimated that the spermaceti samples came from whales caught between 1805 and 1815. AMS 14C dating results are from 550 to 1180 ± 30 BP, R values between 393 and 1023 (± 34) 14C yr and ΔR between –168 and 504 (± 60) 14C yr. The values presented here are the first ever obtained for spermaceti. However, being based on museum specimens, further measurements on crude material would be necessary to refine these results.
This research examines how museums and heritage sites can embrace a social justice approach to tackle inequalities and how they can empower disadvantaged groups to take an equal benefit from cultural resources. This Element argues that heritage institutions can use their collections of material culture more effectively to respond to social issues, and examines how they can promote equal access to resources for all people, regardless of their backgrounds. This research examines heritage and museum practices, ranging from critical and democratic approaches to authoritarian practices to expose the pitfalls and potentials therein. By analysing case studies, examining institutions' current efforts and suggesting opportunities for further development with regard to social justice, this Element argues that heritage sites and museums have great potential to tackle social issues and to create a platform for the equal redistribution of cultural resources, the recognition of diversities and the representation of diverse voices.
This chapter makes a case for writing the institutional history of museums as the history of process. Rather than focusing on the choices of individuals or structural elements that uphold museums’ claims to permanence and stability, I examine manuscript and published catalogues to excavate the nineteenth-century museum’s ‘procedural rhetoric’, the way processes were used persuasively to support systems of meaning and instil specific values. Through comparative analysis of the Hunterian museums in London and Glasgow, I argue that processes of sequencing, labelling and organizing objects on paper were deployed to forge and consolidate, or, alternatively, disrupt and dispute, each museum’s nascent institutional identity. Catalogues function as ‘instituting genres’—that is, genres of writing that enact and thereby make visible the dynamic processes of institutional formation and evolution.
This article focuses on one section of the former Iron Curtain between Hungary and Austria that incorporates diverse memory events after the political change in 1989. The article concentrates on the Hungarian region during the last nearly three decades and investigates the actors and the memories of the former historic period, which show a uniquely diverse set of realizations. Among others, two private museums about the Iron Curtain (established and managed by two former border guards) and a memorial park (commemorating only one day, established and managed by a civil organization) in comparison to the official narrative presented in the last room of the permanent exhibition at the Hungarian National Museum in the capital are subjects of this investigation. Besides the actual memory places and the actors (those who initiated, maintain, and visit these memory spots), their relationship and role in the formation of the regional identity are also analyzed. As theoretical background, the connection between heritage, museum, and memory; the notion of post-Soviet nostalgia; authenticity; and the importance of time are activated for the analysis and to disentangle the complexity of the chosen case study.
Chapter 2 offers a visual paradigm for representations of black people in the ancient Greek world. It considers fifth-century BCE janiform cups that depict black and brown faces on opposite sides. Contemporary ideas are all the more pronounced when dealing with visual constructs of skin color in Greek antiquity and therefore require continual interrogation. Disputing the uncomfortable ease with which some art historians presume a fixed connection between black people and bumbling inferiority, this chapter argues that the black face serves as part of a repertoire of sympotic performance. Similar to masks, janiform cups enable drinkers in the symposium to adopt new identities. The discourse about the chromatics on janiform cups leads to a broader examination of black skin in ancient Greek art. Close scrutiny of museum displays reveals the temporal clash that can occur when audiences encounter iconography of black people in Greek antiquity. In particular, scrupulous inspection of the British Museum unearths a troubling tendency to privilege ancient Egypt as an indication of legitimacy and legibility, contrasted with Nubia.
Museum engagement may be an effective approach for decreasing social disconnection and pain among individuals living with chronic pain. In October 2019, we launched a randomized controlled trial to assess the feasibility of museum engagement for individuals living with chronic pain; the study was halted in March, 2020 due to Covid-19-related safety concerns. This paper describes the process of transitioning from in-person to virtual museum programing in order to continue the study. Virtual museum programing is a feasible option for individuals living with chronic pain that is amenable to research and which may improve accessibility, inclusivity, and scalability relative to in-person programing.
The Epilogue moves from the museumification of Ichijōdani as a prefectural heritage site to the display of medieval urban archaeological materials in general. The excavation, analysis, and display of material culture from Ichijōdani provides us with an opportunity to rethink how we tell the story of medieval Japan and its relationship to modern history, particularly around issues of war, community, and national identity.
The House of Slaves at Gorée Island was listed as a World Heritage site in 1978, one year before Auschwitz concentration camp. This chapter examines the process of heritagization of the House of Slaves as one of the African sites for the commemoration of the slave trade. Adopting Michael Rothberg’s perspective on multidirectional memory, it demonstrates how the project of the House of Slaves was indebted to the recognition of the Holocaust as a global trauma: the commemoration of the slave trade is in several ways entangled with the commemoration of the Holocaust. But from Senegal’s independence onwards, the House of Slaves was also inflected by a vision of Negritude. The first curator of the House of Slaves, Joseph Ndiaye, gave it a global significance through his performances as ‘witness’ to the slave trade. By giving testimony, Joseph Ndiaye claimed an epistemic space for the articulation of Blackness. He simultaneously introduced the figure of the witness to the genre of the memorial museum and reclaimed the African legacy of orality against the Occidental epistemology of history. As embodiment of a legacy of the project for human rights, Joseph Ndiaye also claimed this museum as an African project of emancipation.
To gain a deeper understanding of the use of online culture and its potential benefits to mental health and well-being, sociodemographic characteristics and self-reported data on usage, perceived mental health benefits and health status were collected in an online cross-sectional survey during COVID-19 restrictions in the UK in June–July 2020.
In total, 1056 people completed the survey. A high proportion of participants reported finding online culture helpful for mental health; all but one of the benefits were associated with regular use and some with age. Reported benefits were wide-ranging and interconnected. Those aged under 25 years were less likely to be regular users of online culture or to have increased their use during lockdown.
There may be benefits in targeting cultural resources for mental health to vulnerable groups such as young adults.
This chapter examines how a variety of twentieth-century popular forms – circus, Las Vegas spectacles, the modern pop/rock concert, living history museums, and theme parks – created new languages of performance and expanded the realm, scale, and scope of spectacle by borrowing and reshaping past forms and methodologies. These new languages of popular entertainment performance engage most directly with threads of technology, narrative, authenticity, and audience engagement. These threads in turn come to characterize the popular and influence contemporary traditional theatre practice, both nationally and internationally.
Anatomy museums were thoroughly scrutinised as institutions that potentially perverted public taste, exhibiting specimens of sexual disease, victims of vanity, and monstrous curiosities. Claims that museums might be sites of titillation were not entirely unfounded; visitors to La Specola in Florence were apt to touch the wax genitalia of the anatomical Venus, while Kahn’s Museum peddled quack cures to visitors’ sexual diseases. In an attempt to combat this, anatomy museums foregrounded the moral and educational aspects of their institutions, places that one could visit to ‘know thyself’. Sensation fiction suffered similar imprecations for exhibiting sexualised bodies. Wilkie Collins’s The Law and the Lady (1875) engages with the excesses and order of anatomical, medical, and museum culture, his novel populated by characters that are simultaneously represented as specimens and curators, with clues collected from worryingly instable pathology, collections of female hair, and sexualised objects. Working with nineteenth-century anxieties about the differences between reputable and contentious displays of anatomy, Collins’s textualised and substitute bodies negotiate the tensions of the anatomy museum. This chapter argues that museums and literature shared similar strategies to make these excessive bodies respectable; narrative was used to order anatomy, making displayed specimens educative instead of titillating.
Within an art exhibition, the disposition of space is fundamental in experiencing artworks. A study of the exhibition space as discourse enmeshes art within a framework of relationship and processes instead of viewing art as an isolated and autonomous object. This paper features the case study of Art ‘76, the inaugural exhibition of Singapore's first large-scale institution of art, the National Museum Art Gallery (NMAG). The NMAG's opening in 1976 had been much anticipated by artists and the art audience since the 1960s, it was also an important milestone in the National Museum of Singapore's process of modernisation and revitalisation. During Singapore's post-independent period, the National Museum began to redefine itself as a civic museum focussing on Singapore's history and culture, shifting away from its previous incarnation of a research-focused colonial institution, the Raffles Library and Museum. Singapore was not alone in exploring the role of modern art in nation-building, as neighbouring Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand also began to moot for their own institution of modern art around the same period of time. Art ‘76 and the NMAG represent a case of distinct spatial typology that arose out of unique institutional and socio-political dynamic in post-independent Singapore. In analysing the legacy as well as the relationships and contentions that shaped the spatial articulation of Art ‘76, this paper studies existing visual and oral archive, as well as critically evaluating the concepts of space as a subject of historical study.
Heritage Justice explores how far past wrongs can be remedied through compensatory mechanisms involving material culture. The Element goes beyond a critique of global heritage brokers such as UNESCO, the ICC and museums as redundant, Eurocentric and elitist to explore why these institutions have become the focus for debates about global heritage justice. Three broad modes of compensatory mechanisms are identified: recognition, economic reparation and return. Arguing against Jenkins (2016) that museums should not be the site for difficult conversations about the past, Heritage Justice proposes that it is exactly the space around objects and sites created by museums and global institutions that allows for conversations about future dignity. The challenge for cultural practitioners is to broaden out ideas of material identity beyond source communities, private property and economic value to encompass dynamic global shifts in mobility and connectivity.
This essay examines from an artist-researcher perspective the durational solo dance work Likely Terpsichore? (Fragments), created for and performed at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology (UK) in 2018. It asks how dance's presence in the archaeological museum might allow an alternative visibility for ancient female bodies previously rendered only partially visible by history. It makes a claim for dance in the archaeological museum as a subversive act of radical archaeology, in terms of how, by playing on notions of dismembering/remembering histories, it seeks to disrupt received notions of how we view and understand ancient history and culture.
In the aftermath of the violent Revolution of Dignity (2013/2014) and the subsequent war in Donbas (2014–), a heroic story about the new beginning of a “united, Ukrainian nation” began to emerge. Shaping this new narrative are new museum projects devoted to Ukraine’s developing history. This article examines the process of these new institutions’ formation, the content of created exhibitions, and the activities conducted therein. It focuses on the role of the museums in activating, unifying, and integrating both the Ukrainian national community and civil society. This article is based on a qualitative analysis of materials collected during seven research stays in Ukraine, from June 2017 to August 2019, and focuses on four cases–Ukraine’s First ATO Museum in Dnipro; the Museum of the Heavenly Hundred in Ivano-Frankivsk; the Ukrainian East exhibition in the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War in Kyiv; and a project of the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity in Kyiv. The examined institutions are presented not only as places for gathering artifacts but also as laboratories of civic activism, participation, and dialogue.
This chapter is centred on what was widely seen as the sale of the nineteenth century- the 1893 dispersal of the Spitzer collections. Austrian-born Frédéric Spitzer in many ways was the inheritor of the salvage crusade begun in earlier generations, building up a brilliant array of medieval and Renaissance artefacts (including some faked and composite pieces created on his commission). This chapter explores the visibility of Spitzer in French print culture in order to interrogate the claims for private collectors as patriots, and the attempt by the Third Republic to make collectors into auxiliaries of national policy. The scandal surrounding his sale exposes the anxieties about the interplay of private interest and public institutions, the sensitivity about curators like Émile Molinier when they operated in the market, as well as the virulence of anti-Semitic hostility to Jewish dealers. Most pervasive was the wider fear that French heritage was increasingly snapped up and repatriated by foreign buyers, so that the 1893 sale could be alternately depicted as a triumph, a swindle or a defeat for French culture.
This chapter examines the career of Alexandre-Charles Sauvageot, the violinist-turned-collector of French medieval and Renaissance art, who became one of the prime donors to the Louvre in the nineteenth century. It reconstructs his social networks of collectors in the immediate post-revolutionary period and examines how their purchases were identified as a salvage crusade. It points out the ambivalence of Sauvageot’s cabinet as both a domestic space and a semi-public urban attraction and explores the mixed motives that prompted his unprecedented decision to donate his artworks to the Louvre in 1856. To that extent, it explores not only why the Second Empire witnessed a growing convergence between private collectors and state cultural institutions, but also the ongoing tensions created by this new partnership. It traces the fate of Sauvageot’s bequest after his death and suggests why the reputation of his collection was soon overtaken by other developments in the 1860s in the taste for the fine and decorative arts.
Ageism is a key challenge to today’s aging societies. “Dialogue with Time” is an original Israeli interactive museum exhibit that aims to change negative ageist attitudes by creating a meaningful and stereotype-breaking encounter between visitors and old age. The objective of this study was to examine whether the exhibition reduces ageist attitudes among its visitors. The study employed a comparative pre-post structure with a comparison group. A closed-answer questionnaire was supplied to 100 participants in the experimental group, visitors to the “Dialogue with Time” exhibit, and to 100 participants in the control group. Participants were asked to complete the questionnaire before entering the exhibits and again after experiencing them. Changes in the level of ageism were measured using the Farboni Scale of Ageism. A significant reduction in ageism attitudes was shown in the experimental group when comparing before and after the visit, t(91) = 11.75, p = 0.001, with a good effect size of Cohen’s d = 0.50, whereas in the control group there was no significant change, t(76) = 0.05, p = 0.95, and a weak effect size of Cohen’s d = 0.00. The findings indicate that combating ageism can also be sustained by means of museum exhibits. We recommend that museums and other similar public institutions (e.g. art galleries, exhibition halls) use public spaces to advance multigenerational exposure to positive images of aging.
Unlike rival systems in France and Britain, early United States law from 1790 until 1880 required patentees to supply working models of their inventions. Although the US system was widely copied later in the century (e.g., by Germany and Japan), by that time the models requirement was widely obsolete. Thus by the time of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property in 1883, the prior tradition of making and examining models was virtually irrelevant: it curtailed the possible scope of patents, excluding, for example, patents on pure processes. So for these and other reasons inventors’ lobbies vehemently opposed it. Nevertheless the culture of patent models is worth studying both for the light it sheds on shifting concepts of innovation, and as an instrument of international publicity for the US patent system: the requirement of a model shifted attention from motive concept to the apparatus represented. The models requirement, moreover, sustained a culture of invention populated by professional model makers and lawyers clustered in the nation’s capital, as well as a popular public museum.
The practice of preventive conservation of cultural heritage consists of “all measures and actions aimed at avoiding and minimizing future deterioration or loss” of it (ICOM-CC, 2008). Unlike conservation treatments, preventive conservation deals with entire collections and their surrounding environment. It is known that exposing historical objects to the environment has a significant impact on their degradation process. Studying and managing risk factors is an indispensable practice within the management policies of any cultural institution. The National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) holds some valuable historical collections, heritage derived from the Italian contribution to astronomy over the centuries. The management and protection of these collections faces many challenges. A preventive conservation plan, aimed at assessing and managing risks that threaten the collections, may offer many long-term benefits, allowing us to use available resources in the best possible way. In the past few years INAF-Astronomical Observatory “G.S.Vaiana” of Palermo has been working on the development of preventive conservation projects for its archival, bibliographic and scientific heritage. The present contribution reports on these ongoing experiences and intends to stimulate a discussion within the scientific community in order to individuate the problems we are called to respond to in Astronomical Observatories.