Museum of Iraq Moving Forward

After the campaign for raising awareness on the looting of the National Museum of Iraq, there is some hope about the recovering of such a marvellous museum,

The Baghdad Museum, which has been sealed with concrete, is to be reopened to staff. Shortly before antiquities head Donny George went into exile last August, he had all the entrances to the building blocked, because of the deteriorating security situation in Baghdad. Dr George admitted that this could have created environmental problems, but he felt it was too dangerous to protect the museum with just locked doors.

Dr Abbas al-Hussainy, the new director of the state board of antiquities, told The Art Newspaper last month that he is now “very worried about underground water”. This could cause dampness, or even flooding, since the museum is located close to the Tigris. Ivories and cuneiform tablets would be particularly vulnerable. There are also concerns that rats may have multiplied in the museum over the past year.

After facing the dilemma of having to balance security and environmental risks, Dr Abbas has decided that the building should be reopened to staff. In the current security situation, there is no immediate prospect of the museum being open to visitors.

The Italian government recently provided a massive steel security door for the Baghdad museum. Last month a gap was breached in the wall and the new door was cemented into place. Beyond the security door there are two further locked doors, and when we went to press, these had not been entered, so conditions inside the stores still remain unknown.

Dr Abbas also revealed that there have been three attempts by Coalition troops to enter the museum and antiquities office in the past two months. The first two incidents involved Americans. On the first occasion they forced their way into the compound (but not the buildings); there was a similar incident a week later. On the third occasion a group of westerners in civilian clothing brandished an unsigned letter of authority, but retreated on being questioned.

Meanwhile the British Museum is in discussions with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport about financial assistance to aid the Baghdad museum and Iraq’s archaeological service. (The Art Newspaper)

However, the reopening of the museum still seems to be very far. In addition to the important budget constraints for the rehabilitation of the building, the recovering of the looted artifacts and the restauration of the remaining pieces; another crucial problem is the lack of security for protential visitors. For this reason at lamusediffuse we have started a project on Flickr called “Museum of Iraq 2.0” on Photos on Iraqi art, artifacts and cultural heritage disseminated in collections from all over the world. Add to this pool all the art works which belonged to the looted National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad or are part of the Iraqi Heritage and currently are in other museums’ collections. We are looking forward your contributions to make this museum and Iraqi culture open to everybody.

Image: Wahish: Beauty, 2006


>Your Photos on Museums: Ile Ife National Museum, Nigeria

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You are e-artcasting’s most precious value. Thanks to your emails, comments and contributions e-artcasting’s mission is increasing its diverse outreach.

One of our most active activities is located at our Flickr group. “E-artcasters” are about to contribute 1,000 wonderful and rare photos on art museums from all over the world, so it is hight time for celebration. Today we start a new section named, “Your Photos on Museums” in which we will rescue on weekly basis a selection of your best contributions at our Flickr pool.

For our Grand Opening, this exquisite image of the Ile Ife National Museum (Nigeria) taken in April 1958 and posted by Rabinal, who also shared with us a fragment of The White traveller in Black Africa, by Colin Wills,

The Creation of the World (Yoruba version). The creation of the world took place at Ife. Orafame. The Supreme Being, the Creator, sent Orishala out from heaven to create the world. The way was long and hot, and Orishala rested in a grove of palms. He was thirsty, and he drank palm wine, and fell asleep, a serious dereliction in one with such a high task. Orafame was disappointed. He called another demigod named Oduwa, and sent him forth to carry out the mission. Oduwa did not pause by the way. He took earth, a hen, and a chameleon. The hen spread out the earth and scraped it into a mound, just as you will see her do today. The chameleon moved over the mound, testing it with his light weight, feeling gently with his little feet. His delicate,tremulous movements which you can see today, are a memory of that great task. From the mound grew the Earth. It was there that Orfame set down the first man and woman, and from there stemmed the Yoruba people. The mound still exists; I will show it to you presently, said my guide. Oduwa, naturally, is worshipped by millions of Yoruba. The chameleon is also sacred, and the hen, though eaten, is regarded with great respect and affection. But the strange thing is that Orishala also has his devotees. One might expect them to be the wine-bibbers of the community. On the contrary, they are the teetotallers. When Orishala awoke and found that somebody else had created the world while he slept, he bitterly lamented his failure, and swore never to touch palm wine again. He never did, and neither do any of his followers. His failing remains an example forever, a warning to men of their own frailties.

Image: Rabinal: Museum at Ife, posted on September 2006.

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>Web 2.0 Initiatives Revitalizing Museums: ‘Tableau Vivant’ on Seurat’s Painting

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Here a marvelous example of the impact art can have among people and how popular initiatives driven through Web 2.0 tools can be deeply intriguing and beneficial for museums’ outreach.

The Friends of Riverfront at Beloit, Wisconsin (USA) -a broad based group of volunteers sharing a passion for enhancing and celebrating community living along Beloit’s riverfront- has given a lesson of imagination, creativity and sensitivity. This group has accomplished with real people a recreation of the famous painting by George Seurat, “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte-1884.”

This replica of “Sunday Afternoon…” was nevertheless made on Saturday (though also afternoon) on July 1st, 2006 at the banks of the Rock River in Beloit to promote an August group’s activity called “Saturday in the Park with Friends.” The result was a complete success: a day of fun, community life, collaboration and creativity; in addition to an engaging ‘tableau vivant’ on the Seurat’s exceptional painting at the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The event not only demonstrated popular initiative’s potential in making appealing contents, but also some possible applications for Art Museums. Underlining the wide range of possibilities of Social Software, this project provides a wonderful example to the lots of art museums still reluctant to open the creation and interpretation of their contents to their audiences. What, if not, is a museum but humans’ creations and interaction?

Accordingly to the collective and collaborative spirit of the project, some images of the event are available online thanks to Social Software. In this photographic set at Flickr you can also find comments, anecdotes and more information, such as an animation of the making off, which is also described at Oldonliner´s blog (one of the organizers of the event.) In addition to this, the experience has also been featured in an article significantly titled “Art is Alive Along the River,” published at Beloit Daily News by Ann Montgomery.

In a former article, “Web2.0 Photographic Project by National Museums Liverpool” we told how Web2.0 not only can engage new audiences to art museums, but also can get their collections being revisited by contemporary visions. Now and thanks to the Friends of Riverfront we can enjoy another example of how incredibly engaging contemporary public can be interpreting art collections through web2.0 tools.

Finally, a wish: it would be wonderful if the Art Institute of Chicago included the Friends of Riverfront’s initiative as part of the complementary information about “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – 1884.” Not in vain, this is one of the best feedbacks and homage a museum could ever have on its collection: people making alive their art works.

Image: Oldonliner: First Example on Seurat’s Photo, 2006.

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>Iniciativas Web 2.0 revitalizando museos: ‘tableau vivant’ sobre pintura de Seurat

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A continuación un maravilloso ejemplo del impacto que el arte puede tener entre la gente y de cómo las inicitativas populares dirigidas por medio de las herramientas Web 2.0 pueden ser profundamente interesantes y beneficiosas para el alcance de los museos.
Los Amigos de Riverfront de Beloit, Wisconsin (USA) (un grupo de voluntarios distribuidos en una extensa zona que comparten su pasión por realzar y celebrar la vida en comunidad a lo largo de la orilla del río de Beloit) ha dado una lección de imaginación, creatividad y sensibilidad. Este grupo ha conseguido hacer una recreación de la famosa pintura de George Seurat: Tarde de domingo en la isla de La Grande Jatte-1884.

Esta réplica de “Tarde de domingo…” fue sin embargo hecha en sábado (aunque también por la tarde) el 1 de julio del 2006, en las riberas del río Rock de Beloit para promocionar una actividad del grupo en agosto llamada “Sábado por la tarde con amigos”. El resultado fue un éxito completo: un día de diversión, vida en comunidad, colaboración y creatividad; además de un atractivo ‘tableau vivant’ sobre la excepcional pintura de Seurat perteneciente a la colección del Art Institute de Chicago.

El acontecimiento no sólo demostró el potencial de las iniciativas populares en la producción de contenidos sugerentes, sino también posibles aplicaciones para los museos de arte. Subrayando el amplio espectro de posibilidades del sofware social, este projecto proporciona un maravilloso ejemplo a los muchos museos de arte todavía reacios a abrir la creación e interpretación de sus contenidos a su público. ¿Qué si no son los museos más que creaciones humanas e interacción?

En consonancia con el espíritu colectivo y de colaboración del proyecto, algunas imágenes del acontecimiento están disponibles en internet gracias al Sofware Social. En esta serie fotográfica en Flickr también puedes encontrar comentarios, anécdotas y más información, como una animación del proceso de realización también descrito en el blog de Oldonliner (uno de los organizadores del evento). Además, la experiencia ha sido también recogida en un artículo significativamente titulado “El arte está vivo a lo largo del río”, publicado en Beloit Daily News por Ann Montgomery.

En un anterior artículo “Proyecto fotográfico Web2.0 de National Museums Liverpool” contábamos cómo Web 2.0 no sólo puede atraer nuevas audiencias a los museos de arte sino que puede conseguir que sus colecciones sean revisitadas por visiones contemporáneas. Ahora y gracias a los Amigos de Riverfront, podemos disfrutar de otro ejemplo de cuán increíblemente atractivo pueden ser el público contemporáneo interpretando collecciones de arte por medio de herramientas Web 2.0.

Finalmente, un deseo: sería maravilloso que el Art Institute de Chicago incluyera la iniciativa de los Amigos de Riverfront como parte de la información complementaria sobre “Tarde de domingo en la isla de La Grande Jatte-1884”. No en vano se trata de uno de las mejores respuestas y homenajes que un museo pueda tener sobre su colección: la gente haciendo vivas sus obras de arte.

Imagen (véase artículo en inglés): Oldonliner: First Example on Seurat’s Photo, 2006.

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