INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from Security Management Magazine
Meet Paul—a seasoned professional who was recently hired by a famous international organization to be a regional crisis lead. Given the organization's informal, free-flowing, and innovative culture, Paul was confident about taking on his new role. The head of resilience and the human resources team made a conscious choice to hire him. He has an unusual professional and educational background, and his new perspective should foster more efficiency, innovation, and agility in the regional and global crisis teams. But for the organization to reap the benefits of diverse thinking, the commitment to inclusion shouldn’t stop at a job offer.
For the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California in Berkeley, diversity refers to “an obvious fact of human life—namely, that there are many different kinds of people—and the idea that this diversity drives cultural, economic, and social vitality and innovation.”
Today, the word “diversity” is strongly associated with racial and gender diversity, and the business case for it is stronger than ever. A 2020 report from McKinsey & Company, Diversity wins: How inclusion matters, states that companies that foster gender diversity are 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability compared to companies that don’t.
Now, let us take it one step further. As noted by Berkeley, diversity among people is much richer yet complex to grasp. We differ in language, education, lifestyle, professional background, religion, ethnicity, gender, health, culture, social roles, sexual orientation, skills, income, political views, and countless other domains. In recent years, neurodiversity, which refers to the range of brain function differences, has even been recognized as another piece of the diversity map.
Considering that people in general—and decision makers in particular—tend to seek out or construe data in a way that corroborates their preconceived ideas (a tendency called confirmation bias in psychology and cognitive science), we can easily imagine how complex and unsettling it is to deal with such a high level of diversity among their teams and colleagues.
Yet, during crises, those decision makers are expected to think outside the box and lead through change. Change means conflict—conflicting thoughts, conflicting opinions, conflicting needs, conflicting objectives, and conflicting feelings. That is the negative perception of change. If we want to use a more constructive term: change also means diversity—diversity of thoughts, diversity of opinions, and diversity of needs. Diversity is inherent to a crisis.
During a recent crisis, Paul witnessed his CEO and executive team say that the situation was so challenging and high-profile that they did not want to gather the regular crisis management team to lead through it. The CEO and her team of three did not want to get anyone else’s opinion. They managed the crisis behind closed doors. Paul tried to convince them otherwise, without much success. They had a heated discussion about it, but the CEO did not change her mind. Her leitmotiv was: “The crisis is challenging enough. I cannot afford to have wild thinkers around the table. I need clarity.”
Eventually, the company did survive the crisis. From the standpoint of the CEO and her inner circle, that was a significant win. But elsewhere in the company—including for Paul—the story is slightly different. Across the company, the communication flow was severely damaged, Paul and many of his colleagues no longer trusted management, and employees’ motivation decreased. And after being labeled uncooperative and emotional, Paul moved on to another company. He realized that, for this company, diversity was just a façade.
In a recent article, we noted that an efficient and sharp crisis leader focuses on others’ needs. Focusing on others means accepting differences without judgment, which requires a high level of self-awareness and empathy. In other words, beyond the quotas and statistics, implementing bonafide diversity means promoting a significant level of emotional intelligence throughout the company, from top to bottom.
So, what does it entail for an organization, its leaders, managers, and employees to thoroughly and holistically embrace diversity?
Last November, Forbes published an article where a panel of human resources leaders highlighted the top skills recruiters are looking for in 2021. Out of this list, organizations should promote three specific skills daily for diversity and resilience.
The top skill is a growth mind-set (as opposed to a fixed mind-set). An easy way to identify if we have a fixed mind-set is to evaluate our self-talk: “I don't like to be challenged,” “I stick to what I know,” or “If I fail, my reputation is on the line.” Whereas, a growth mind-set will sound like: “Failure is an opportunity to grow,” “Any feedback is constructive,” or “The success of others inspires me.”
The second critical skill to nurture is continuous learning and curiosity before, during, and after crises. The COVID-19 crisis, in particular, has proven that we must demonstrate innovative problem-solving monthly, if not daily. That means we need to surround ourselves with real heterogeneity of thoughts. Security and resilience professionals need to get out of our usual circles, networks, and industries and sincerely seek to learn from others.
Finally, comfort with ambiguity is the third primary skill to stir up. As Jonni Redick, CEO of JLConsulting Solutions and a retired assistant chief for the California Highway Patrol, pointed out: "Contemporary leaders still struggle with the ability to shift their archetype and understand the need to be able to embrace change as a norm. Trusted leaders allow the conscious creation of new mind-sets and skills to invent new ways of doing business without becoming defensive. Understanding that our people will always be the most valuable asset, and when we overlook anyone, we overlook everyone."
Start-up owners and employees can relate to this one directly. Our brain seeks stability and predictability, even if we like to think that we adapt quickly and that we are agile. Acknowledging it is the first step toward a more flexible and resilient mind-set.
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Reposted from Artnet News
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has released a 42-page guide detailing best practices for US arts venues reopening their doors during the pandemic.
“The Art of Reopening,” as the document is called, is the result of interviews with nine arts organizations that have successfully resumed business in the past few months—albeit in a constricted, adaptive manner.
The organizations comprise an intentionally diverse group that spans artistic disciplines, budget sizes, and geographic regions in the name of capturing a broad snapshot of the US arts landscape. Among the interviewees are representatives from Americans for the Arts and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as well as performing arts operations like the Cincinnati Ballet and the GALA Hispanic Theatre.
The guide lays out six bulleted lessons learned from these venues, with a focus less on specific safety measures than administrative and ideological approaches.
“Adapting quickly to new circumstances and information, and communicating those lessons promptly and effectively to artists/staff, board members, donors, and the public will attract greater confidence in your endeavor,” reads one tip from the guide.
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, for example, has consulted with the nearby Baylor College of Medicine on its reopening plans. “We have assembled a team to help us think through this, to help us move through this really challenging time,” says the museum’s chief development officer, Amy Purvis, in the report. “The team helps us navigate the different and evolving thoughts about how the disease is transmitted, its incubation period, and the viral load.”
The document also encourages organizations to strengthen ties to their local communities, re-commit to their founding missions, and to keep a camera rolling during all the ups and downs as they feel their way through these unprecedented times. Documenting and sharing the journey, the guide says, can help reach increasingly broader audiences.
Included in the guide, too, is a survey of the reopening strategies from national service organizations in the arts, such as the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors, conducted by the NEA’s office of research and analysis last September and October.
Not surprisingly, the study found that museums have reopened at a greater rate than performing arts institutions. Programming-wise, reopened venues across both categories have found success with virtual performances, outdoor events, and timed or ticketed entry.
Download the full “Art of Reopening” guide here.
Reposted from MuseumNext
As the song goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”. And that’s certainly how the world is feeling right now about those cultural venues and institutions that we all miss so dearly.
With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating our lives for close to a year now, the loss of our favourite pastimes and enriching experiences has become increasingly painful. So, it’s only natural that we attempt to reflect on how things have changed and how much we have all had to adjust to a “new normal”.
Significant change causes us to try and make sense of the world around us, and time and time again we turn to art as a way to express and perceive the complex emotional impact of pivotal moments in human history. While spending time wandering the corridors and galleries of our favourite institutions may not have been possible for much of the last year, it’s true to say that museums haven’t been standing still. In fact, they’ve been finding new ways to resonate and connect with the public – at a time when their value has become intensely clear under the microscope of restrictions and hardship.
A case in point: the Covid Letters:
The UK’s Foundling Museum was originally founded in the 1700s as a home for abandoned children. It seems fitting, therefore, that their most recent exhibition gave voice to the young people struggling with the realities of the pandemic.
The Covid Letters was pieced together by designed Jonny Banger, who sought out works from the nation’s children during lockdown. Using the letter Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent out to households to announce the lockdown as a canvas, children under the age of 16 were encouraged to customise and decorate it in a way that articulated their feelings about the pandemic. This included how they felt about the Government, the NHS, schools and the changes to family life.
The result is over 200 unique works which give a direct insight into the way the pandemic has impacted young people. From anti-government graffiti to support for the NHS, this colourful collection is full of frustration, inspiration and stories.
When much of the world first went into lockdown in spring 2020, museums were forced to shut their doors. Almost one year later, many of these institutions have mastered the art of digital exhibitions.
Even the world’s biggest cultural powerhouses like The Louvre, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and Amsterdam’s Van Gogh museum have spent the last year creating a constant stream of illuminating and inspiring content for museum fans to enjoy from anywhere in the world. And although this level of digitalisation has been forced upon us by chaotic circumstances, in a way it has made museums more accessible than ever before. The ever-evolving use of social media by museums in lockdown has also created a clear line of communication between institutions and the public, allowing fans and followers to inform the dialogue – rather than acting merely as the audience to broadcast messages.
So it’s no wonder that the rise in digital exhibitions has been well-received. The Centre Pompidou in Paris has seen record numbers of “visitors” in lockdown, and a huge spike in digital interest. The museum’s official podcast has had eight times as many listens since the building’s closure, and the popularity of the museum’s YouTube channel is reportedly up by 60%.
Not every museum has found success in lockdown, and many may struggle to entice visitors back through their physical doors in the wake of the pandemic – even if they have survived the financial hardship of the last 12 months. For those who succeed in battling through, however, there will almost undoubtedly be a period of self-reflection and introspection to navigate over the coming months and years.
This is exactly what the Guardians of Sleep exhibition aims to achieve. Created through a collaboration between the Museum of London and Canada’s Museum of Dreams, the exhibition will collect descriptions of people’s COVID dreams as a way to explore and understand any commonality in how our mental health has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Such ambitious exhibitions highlight how, by engaging with today’s society, museums have the power to help us all feel less alone.
Of course, any discussion about mental health must address the anxiety, fear and stress that has been a common feature of everyday life in recent times. But if museums are equipped to do anything, it is to help make sense of the world through. As we emerge from the trauma of Covid-19, capturing the knowledge we have gained and documenting the stories created during this period will be an essential role for museums.
The pandemic has turned museum culture on its head. To find out more about the journeys museums and galleries have taken to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, don’t miss the MuseumNext Digital Summit later this month.
Reposted from California Academy of Sciences
Earlier this month, the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) awarded the California Academy of Sciences an IF/THEN® Gender Equity Grant to increase the visual representation of women and gender minorities in STEM across museum content. The Academy joins 27 other recipients around the U.S. working to showcase greater gender diversity in exhibits, displays, and materials as part of their broader efforts to advance diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity. The Academy also received one of four prestigious Moonshot Awards given to support extraordinary efforts that can be easily replicated or shared with other science centers and museums.
“Representation matters, and as the oldest cultural institution in San Francisco, the Academy is proud to highlight the diversity of STEM practitioners that reflects the diversity of our city,” says Dr. Lauren Esposito, Curator of Arachnology and Founder of 500 Queer Scientists, a powerful visibility campaign for LGBTQ+ professionals working in science, science education, and science advocacy.
The Academy will develop a pop-up exhibit that tells the first-person stories of LGBTQ+ women and gender minorities of color in STEM professions. The exhibit will be made available for other institutions to easily and inexpensively recreate and display, allowing them to showcase the stories that resonate most with their audiences. In addition, Google Arts & Culture will host a virtual exhibit that features all first-person profiles plus additional content, helping to ensure these powerful stories extend beyond museum walls. The goal is to create space for the LGBTQ+ community to see themselves in STEM, and to help all audiences better recognize the true diversity of STEM practitioners in their communities.
“People with LGBTQ+ identities have propelled science forward from the shadows, and they’ve persisted in the face of persecution—scientific and otherwise—for centuries,” says Esposito. “It’s long past time for us to be seen for our accomplishments, and embraced for our identities.”
A growing body of evidence indicates that LGBTQ+ people in STEM are statistically underrepresented, encounter hostile work and educational environments, and leave STEM professions at an alarming rate. LGBTQ+ representation in STEM has lagged behind societal progress, particularly where identities of women and gender minorities intersect with Black, Indigenous, and other person-of-color identities. Museums like the Academy are perfectly positioned to start a conversation that catalyzes a culture shift across society. The Academy’s pop-up exhibit will be transformative by creating space for the communities being highlighted and by showing future LGBTQ+ professionals in STEM that they’re not alone.
The pop-up exhibit opens later this summer and will feature the work of inspiring individuals who are a critical force for STEM progress but whose voices have traditionally gone unheard. To nominate someone for the exhibit, please fill out a submission form.
Reposted from Retail Customer Experience
Self-service automation can improve efficiency, but in a retail environment, the human touch is as important as ever.
What many retailers are learning is that self-service technology cannot only help support a humanized environment; it is necessary to give consumers the choices they are looking for.
These were the takeaways of a panel presentation, "How, When and Why to Add Self-Service Kiosks" at last week's Self-Service Innovation Summit.
The coronavirus pandemic has encouraged some retailers to hasten their introduction of self-service options, although not at the expense of not having employees on hand.
COVID-19 caused The Hudson Group, which operates stores in travel facilities, to accelerate its use of automated self service, said panelist Ruth Crowley, vice president of merchandise and brand strategy, The Hudson Group. This past summer, the company introduced personal protection equipment vending machines in 27 airports and the Houston Space Center.
"It doesn't mean we lose touch with the customer," Crowley said. The company makes sure associates are on hand to help the customer at the kiosk.
"What we have tried to do is humanize the elements of the experience," Crowley said. One way they do this is through the use of an app that allows the customer to make a purchase even before they arrive at the airport.
Crowley said customer expectations are higher than ever. "They want what they want when they want it," she said.
Saladworks, a fast casual restaurant chain, began adding a robotic salad maker, known as "Sally" — which allows guests to select from 22 toppings and serve themselves a fresh salad in less than a minute, said panelist Eric Lavinder, chief development officer at Saladworks.
"With food, you have to be convenient, you have to be accessible and you have to make it easy," he said. "The biggest thing is putting healthy food in more places."
Lavinder said the company also has a guest engagement program that allows it to interact with customers on personal level and learn their tastes and habits.
"It's really about learning the customer. You can give them better consistency," he said, as well as up-sell them. "They (consumers) also want choice and control. To me the technology is a necessity."
The Ontario Regiment Tank Museum in Ontario, Canada, repositioned its digital concierge avatar, Lana, to provide contact tracing information and screen visitors before they enter, said panelist Jeremy Neal Blowers, executive director. They added facial recognition that allows Lana to know if you are a visitor or a staff member. A staff member requires a daily COVID screening.
The contact tracing allows the museum to send information on all visitors to the health department, Blowers said.
The museum introduced Lana in 2019 to recognize and engage visitors when they enter the museum. They wanted to welcome visitors to make check-in seamless and answer common questions about the museum.
For the museum, Lana actually enhanced the human interaction, Blowers said, since it gives the volunteers the chance to talk about the museum and not deal with mundane transactional tasks.
In addition, high value customers (regular visitors or donors) have the ability to opt in at the concierge to a higher level customization, Blowers said. The facial recognition can offer special things for VIP visitors.
"It creates a consistency because it is an automated system," he said for the technology.
The Wooster Red Sox, the minor league team for the Boston Red Sox, will have self-service kiosks for selling tickets and for automated food concessions at its new ball park, said panelist Matt Levin, the company's senior vice president and chief financial and technology officer.
A fan will go in, take something from the shelf and take it to the self-serve kiosk to pay. They plan to allow a fan to do it from their mobile device too.
Levin said an even more personal experience will emerge as his company gathers more data on shopper behavior. If more shoppers are looking for candy bars, for instance, they can relocate that product in the store.
"This gives us the means of redeploying some of our human assets to help be better ambassadors for our fans," he said, echoing Blowers. "As opposed to somebody being a cashier, we can now utilize that body to actually create meaningful dialog with our fans and help them with the kiosk."
"It's not about having the technology replace the human capital but it's actually using the human capital to help the customer with the technology and beyond to help them find targeted experiences," he said.
Throughput metric is a crucial metric, Levin said. "We only have them for a limited amount of time," he said. Having to wait in line for a hot dog causes people not to order food.
Offering both a contactless and staffed approach is the best of both worlds, said panel co-moderator Mark Thomson, director of retail and hospitality solutions EMEA at Zebra Technologies.
The panelists agreed that the use of apps will increase since it enhances the customer relationship.
"This is the only way forward. It's not going to revert back," Crowley said, noting that research has found that 66% of people are more comfortable engaging with an app. "To engage with people in a more holistic way, you have to do this."
"Once you open your mind to the customization and the automation, it's amazing," Blowers said. "I'm sure everybody here is working on more ideas." With the virtual concierge, they will recognize a foreign language and personalize the experience. They could also deploy a concierge at an exhibit as opposed to just the entrance.
"All of us here are really just the tip of the iceberg on where it is going," he said.
Which isn't to say the journey will be easy.
"Technology is not cheap to deploy, and some things are going to be wrong," Lavinder said. "We do a lot of research and spend a lot of money. Everything we do is not exactly perfect. You have to be willing to invest in the infrastructure and technology because you don't know what you don't know and you don't know what's going to work and not work. You have to invest the time in technology." In addition, you need to be willing to fail sometimes.
"I don't think it's ever going to replace live stores and live people," Lavinder said. "It's on their terms, and how they want it."
Co-moderator Richard Thompson, director of global OEM sales at Zebra Technologies, said that going forward, there will be more collaboration among companies on technology.
Nearly 100 French museum directors and curators have shared an open letter urging the culture minister to reopen the country’s arts institutions, which have been locked down since late October.
Addressed to culture minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, the letter argues that with the safety protocols instituted over the past 10 months, museums now represent a low contamination risk and will in fact help to combat another public health risk: the “heavy psychological and social consequences” of confinement.
The missive was written in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s January 29 announcement that museums in France will remain closed for the foreseeable future, even though he’s chosen not to impose a third national lockdown.
“After hearing the latest government announcements, we want to make our voice heard,” the letter reads. “We ask to be able to fully play our role of unifying places, conveying what has meaning, and to reopen the doors of our institutions as widely and as soon as possible.”
“For an hour, for a day, for a week, or for a month, let us partially open our doors,” the document implores.
Among the first wave of signatories were Quentin Bajac, director of Paris’s Jeu de Paume; Isabelle Bertolotti, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon; Emma Lavigne, president of the Palais de Tokyo; and Chiara Parisi, director of the Center Pompidou-Metz. Now, more than 2,300 additional signatories have added their names to the letter since the Palais de Tokyo published it through the platform change.org.
For museum leaders, Macron’s recent announcement represents the third time a projected date for reopening has been postponed or moved since going into lockdown for a second time last fall. Mid-December was the first targeted reopening date, before being moved to January 7, and then again to the end of the month. Now, it seems, the timeline for cultural institutions to resume business remains a guessing game.
The French Ministry of Culture did not respond to a request for comment.
“At a time when many cultural institutions are considering the creation of spaces dedicated to well-being through art and artistic mediation,” reads the letter, “we wish to be able to take care of visitors now, because it seems essential to us that places of culture can once again offer a sensitive experience, necessary for mental well-being to face this crisis.”
The letter concludes: “Art, like health, helps heal the human soul.”
Reposted from Anthony Amore
What is it about Massachusetts and cultural property crimes? The commonwealth has been home to a list of jaw-dropping heists that set precedents, as well as records, for the value of the items taken.
The question was posed to me during a recent lecture I gave (virtually, of course) during which I stated that all great heists have a Massachusetts connection. I was speaking about Rose Dugdale, the subject of my recent book The Woman Who Stole Vermeer. Dugdale was not merely the first woman to pull off a major art heist, but her take from the 1974 theft of 19 works from the Russborough House in Ireland was the biggest of her day. What’s her connection to Massachusetts? After graduating from Oxford, she came to the United States and attended Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley to earn a master’s degree.
Admittedly, Dr. Dugdale’s is a tangential connection. No matter, though. Here’s a summary of some of Massachusetts’ more notorious heists:
1972 - The first ever armed robbery of a museum occurs at the Worcester Art Museum when members of Florian “Al” Monday’s gang steal four masterpieces and shoot a museum guard along the way. The story is detailed in my first book, Stealing Rembrandts.
1973 - A thief uses a rouse to trick an overnight security guard into letting him into the Fogg Museum. Once inside, the thief brandishes a gun and allows three others into the facility from which they steal millions in gold coins. It is the largest coin theft in history.
1975 - Myles Connor and accomplices pull off a daring daytime heist of a precious Rembrandt painting from the Museum of Fine Arts. The work is later used to negotiate a sentence reduction for Connor related to other art heists. It’s the most prominent example of a masterwork being used by a thief as a get-out-of-jail-free card in modern history.
1978 - A Cezanne still life and six other paintings are stolen from the home of Michael Bakwin in Stockbridge. The paintings are valued in the tens of millions of dollars and the heist is considered the biggest property theft from a home in American history. The story of this heist is told in my book The Art of the Con.
1990 - The Gardner Museum heist. Simply put, the biggest property theft in the history of the world.
Interspersed throughout these years and since, Massachusetts also became known as the armored car robbery capital of the U.S., with violent gangs from the South Shore and as far as Pittsfield picking off money trucks on what seemed like a weekly basis. And none of the above includes the legendary crimes of the likes of Whitey Bulger, the Winter Hill gang, the Angiulo Brothers, and the innumerable other museum thefts perpetrated by Myles Connor.
One wonders what was behind all this. Could it have been the corruption of a rather large number of law enforcement officers that provided thieves with a sense of protection? Might it have been the natural byproduct of a city with two distinct sets of ethnic mafias running amok, inspiring lower-level hoods by providing at least the potential for lining up illicit sales? One thing is for sure: Massachusetts, from the late 1960s through the mid-1990s, was a veritable Wild West situated right here in New England. Thanks to a strong effort to clean up its ranks, law enforcement has made great strides in defeating the large-scale heist epidemic that plagued Massachusetts for too long.
Reposted from Art Sentry
Art Sentry, the leading object protection and surveillance solution for cultural properties has partnered with Axis Communications to integrate the Axis Perimeter Defender product into its system. This feature is designed to extend the protection of cultural properties beyond the interior of their facilities and assist with the early identification of potential threats.
Cultural property executives have historically lost sleep due to concerns that their collections may not be properly protected during the visitations of their patrons. Countless hours of strategic planning have been invested in the pursuit of maximizing exhibit protection from theft and damage. Investments in personnel, training and various types of electronic security equipment have all been made in this pursuit.
However, recent events have introduced an entirely new set of threats related to the protection of cultural properties nationwide. Civil protests targeting historical figures have repeatedly been organized and our nation has been littered with destructive examples. These protests start on the outside of a facility but can easily spread to the inside of the building.
No longer is it safe to concentrate only on the protection of the artifacts housed within the walls of cultural properties. More focus is now being dedicated to the immediate identification of threats by these protest groups at the facilities perimeter, and new technology can be indispensable to assist with gathering more timely intelligence related to these threats. Early threat identification at the perimeter can give the security forces extra time which may be the difference between threat mitigation or the escalation of violence.
It is likely that these protests will continue as history is ripe with deliberate attacks on cultural heritage during times of civil unrest. Often civil protests target cultural properties because the artifacts they house can represent controversial material and history. Symbols of controversial topics are often represented within and around cultural properties to present a historical record to be studies and learned from. Sadly, as passions are inflamed, these symbols are targeted and have become the focus of protest groups because their destruction is perceived as having maximum impact to bring attention to their cause.
The integration of Perimeter Defender gives cultural properties the ability to quickly identify threats where security starts—at the perimeter of their facilities. The video analytics application provides a highly effective system that automatically detects and responds to people and vehicles intruding on your property. It can be customized to the customers’ facility and other individual needs.
This feature is another layer in the Company's comprehensive museum protection system. It is said that security starts from the “outside-in” and the Perimeter Defender capability is just another way that Art Sentry helps its customers Guard the World’s Treasurers.
Do you need more information about Art Sentry? Would you like to schedule a demonstration to see how it works? Contact us and we’ll show you the benefits of the Art Sentry system.
Reposted from The Peninsula
Qatar National Library has taken action to combat antiquities trafficking and illicit circulation of documentary heritage in the Middle East, North Africa and neighboring countries, according to Minister of State and President of Qatar National Library, H E Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kawari.
Speaking at a special webinar antiquities trafficking yesterday, H E Dr.Al Kawari said that the Library continuously monitor to find antiquities trafficking and take action against the activity together with regional and global partners.
‘What is Antiquities Trafficking?’ webinar discussed the structures of supply chains for the illicit trade of cultural items, identified key stakeholders involved in the criminal practice, and explored the source, transit routes and market countries of the illegal activity.
“Trafficking and smuggling of antiquities and artifacts in the region is threatening its cultural heritage,” said Dr. Al Kawari.
He also shed light to online antiquities trafficking and said that social media is being the ‘wrong hot bed’ for such activities.
“In recent times we have seen an increase in the online illicit trade of antiquities. Lately the social media, especially Facebook groups have become the wrong hot bed for antiquities trafficking,” said Dr. Al Kawari.
“Illegally trading such heritage items is piracy of nations. We at Qatar National Library believe in role of intellectuals in the world. We urge them to take more responsibility to address this serious issue of antiquities trafficking. We urge the international community to deal and eliminate such activities,” he added.
The webinar is part of the Himaya Project Lecture Series, an initiative the Library launched to counter the trafficking and illegal circulation of documentary heritage in the MENA region and neighboring countries. Himaya engages international agencies and regional organizations to protect heritage artifacts and thwart the trafficking of such items.
The webinar featured Director of Distinctive Collections, Qatar National Library, Stephane Ipert, Veronica Costarelli, Project Manager, Cross-Border Syrian Emergency Response with IOM and a post-crisis antiquity trafficking researcher, Post-doctoral research fellow in cultural heritage and conflicts, Norwegian Institute in Rome, University of Oslo, and Dr. Samuel Andrew Hardy. The event was moderated by Maxim Nasra, Book Conservation Specialist at the Library.
The two-day webinar is held mainly for cultural heritage experts, scholars, academics and law enforcement officials. It will conclude today.
Reposted from AAM
In 2024, the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block (TMA) in Arizona will celebrate its centennial anniversary. From its humble beginnings as a community gallery and lecture space to the museum’s formation in 1975, TMA has served Southern Arizona through engaging exhibitions and educational opportunities.
In preparing for this important milestone, TMA is affirming its commitment to relevance and equity by fostering connections to its audiences and local communities. In envisioning the next 100 years through the lens of a global pandemic and calls for racial equity, TMA is confronting urgent, existential questions: How can we sustain and enhance services to our audiences? How can the museum more proactively and fervently support community partnerships? How can we facilitate community-driven initiatives? How can TMA reimagine its structure and practices to achieve equity and inclusion and foster sustainable and systemic change?
Along with the region’s diverse demographics, including Latinx, immigrant, refugee, and Indigenous communities, TMA is situated on the original territories of the O’odham and an hour’s drive north of the US-Mexico border. This unique context pushes the museum to build access creatively and collaboratively for its communities, which it is doing through the institution-wide Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Plan.
TMA’s focus on inclusion, diversity, equity, and access didn’t start with the creation of the IDEA Plan, however. First, the museum assessed its community engagement history. Beginning in 2016, after leadership changes, it evaluated its outreach to traditionally underserved communities; identified disparities in exhibition development and artworks in the collection; and addressed internal challenges, such as diversifying the museum’s board.
In 2017, the museum created a Department of Community Engagement to integrate a broad range of community stakeholders within TMA’s collections, exhibitions, and programs through bidirectional collaborations and community partnerships. One example, “Museum as Sanctuary,” founded in 2010, works with organizations serving immigrants and refugees to highlight the benefits of creative expression and language acquisition through art-making and in-gallery activities. “Museum as Sanctuary” participants have authored labels, exhibited artwork, participated in focus groups about the future of the museum, and supported program development and expansion.
Challenging traditional internal power dichotomies, the department has had a profound impact on curatorial practices while reinforcing the principles of IDEA decision-making in programmatic endeavors and community-based practices. The department has leveraged partnerships and conducted facilitated conversations and convenings that have led to prioritizing interpretation and exhibition development that is reflective and inclusive of our local community.
Simultaneously, the CEO worked with the board’s committee on trustees to expand its criteria and rationale to include the important role trustees play in helping the museum become inclusive, diverse, and community-centered. To avoid the historical challenges of “tokenism” on museum boards, TMA established new committees, including the community initiatives committee, which serves as a bridge between the institution and local Indigenous tribes, Latinx, and communities of color.
Beginning in early 2018, TMA drafted a new three-year strategic plan, which was adopted in December 2019. The Strategic Plan commits to IDEA across all its strategic priorities, including economic stability, programmatic focus, audience experience, and messaging.
Although TMA was focusing on programs and exhibitions that were culturally relevant and rooted in equitable access, it was clear that in order to realize systemic change, TMA needed to ensure a shared baseline understanding of and framework for IDEA, including definitions, principles, strategies, and metrics. So in the fall of 2019, TMA began creating an IDEA Plan, with help from the board’s community initiatives committee and community representatives recommended by the curator of community engagement. TMA’s board of trustees approved the IDEA Plan in July 2020. (See the “A Trustee’s Perspective” sidebar at left for more on the board’s role.)
In order to represent, activate, and advocate for all Southern Arizona communities, the IDEA process requires ongoing reflection, training, and discussion. To achieve the plan’s principles of relevancy, community, respect, and multivocality, they had to be instilled within the museum’s collection, exhibitions, programs, and people, including the board of trustees, staff, and volunteer groups. The plan also had to be uniquely tailored to address both the internal and external challenges we faced. Internal challenges included a lack of cultural competencies across the institution; a lack of diversity in the museum workforce, volunteers, and trustees; and a history of interdepartmental silos. Externally, TMA sought to become more relevant to audiences and bridge the historical disconnect between the museum and its communities.
The IDEA Plan defines the four foundational principles as follows:
We stand for RELEVANCY
All individuals have the right to access art and the museum, including its collection, programs, and exhibitions, in a relevant and meaningful way.
We stand for COMMUNITY
The museum will listen and respond to the needs of the communities it serves and strive to be an asset to them, existing as a vital community anchor. As a space for civic dialogue and social and cultural participation, TMA aims to improve the well-being of its audiences.
We stand for RESPECT
The museum will be a source of lifelong learning by ensuring that all visitors have access to a relevant, engaging experience that connects them to the artwork in ways that are respectful of the visitor’s expertise, references, and experiences.
We stand for MULTIVOCALITY
Programs and interpretation will honor and amplify the inherent value of multiple points of view, and the museum will encourage open-ended experiences and inquiry-based dialogue.
These principles guide TMA in representing regional identity, building collaborations with communities, increasing cultural competencies, and broadening access so that all visitors can connect art to their lives. Additionally, they provided museum staff with IDEA philosophies to drive decision-making and reinforce an inclusive and equitable work culture.
TMA’s IDEA Plan was developed by the museum’s community initiatives committee, led by John-Peter Wilhite, trustee and committee chair; and Marianna Pegno, curator of community engagement, with guidance and recommendations from Jeremy Mikolajczak, the Jon and Linda Ender Director and chief executive officer; Robert Alpaugh, strategic planning consultant; and Patricia Lannes, diversity and inclusion consultant, as well as TMA staff recommendations.
To break the traditional cycle of exhibition development and instead become a responsive and collaborative institution, we needed to incorporate IDEA philosophies into curatorial practices and, more broadly, the permanent collection. Staff strengthened long-term systemic and systematic community engagement approaches in which stakeholders identify relatable issues, which then inform the museum’s approach to its programs, exhibitions, and collections. These include strategies to connect or bridge the museum more intentionally to its local communities/audiences and reinforce the museum’s commitment to IDEA through community-based programs, multivocal approaches to exhibition development and interpretation, and regular and sustained conversations beyond the institutional walls.
With the support of a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, TMA is exploring innovative approaches to exhibition development that are rooted in local communities and that amplify the complex and unique cultural diversity of Southern Arizona. For example, the development of the Kasser Family Wing of Latin American Art, which connects contemporary and ancient visual traditions from over 3,000 years of Latin American history, involved sustained conversations with community members who offered feedback on themes, wrote exhibit labels, and supported outreach.
And we are expanding this approach in an exhibition of the museum’s Indigenous Arts collection by involving community expertise from inception to implementation and beyond. Together, curators, cultural liaisons, and tribal representatives from across the region are selecting artworks, identifying themes, and developing multivocal approaches to recontextualize the Indigenous Arts collection.
The next phase of implementation will focus on the application of IDEA principles and strategies in developing department-specific action items—ensuring that each department has ownership and agency in the implementation process. Additional short-term projects, to be accomplished over the next six to 12 months, include:
We believe a commitment to IDEA will enable TMA to build internal capacities, create financial sustainability, and set the foundation for an institution that can meet its own, and the community’s, needs for the next 100 years.
Real systemic change means proactively addressing reactionary situations, setbacks, and evolving needs. The work is tough and never-ending, and it will entail no shortage of difficult conversations and decisions. However, now more than ever museums must be nimble, responsive, and inclusive to meet the needs of our local communities, address injustice and inequality, and build a more relevant future.
John-Peter Wilhite, a Tucson Museum of Art (TMA) trustee, shares why he saw IDEA as an institutional priority.
When I became a TMA trustee in 2018, it was due to the changes I saw happening at TMA. I knew the board was predominately white and I’d be the only Black member, but I saw it as an opportunity; I wanted to support the museum in becoming more inclusive of communities in Southern Arizona. Once I was officially on the board, I listened to how programs were developed in the past while simultaneously seeing where the board was in terms of understanding inclusion and equity.
The process of working with the IDEA strategic planning team, comprised of board members and staff, was tough at times. We had difficult conversations about the importance of the IDEA concepts being woven through all aspects of the plan, and some on the team did not understand why that was important. We leaned into those conversations and made it happen. Using my skills in communication, we found common language and built a collective understanding in order to commit to these practices holistically. Next, a small team of us (the community initiatives committee) had to create the actual IDEA work plan, which detailed the ways we were going to implement the concepts from the strategic plan and begin creating change in the programming and makeup of staff and board.
Finally, with the strategic plan approved by the board of trustees in December 2019 and the IDEA work plan completed, we put the final IDEA Plan before the board for approval in July 2020. I was concerned there would be some pushback, but to my surprise, the full board unanimously agreed to the document.
Now we have the hard work to do—we have to constantly check in and continuously assess ourselves. If we just have the plan but aren’t doing the work to move forward, then we aren’t truly committed to prioritizing IDEA.
Facing Change: Insights from the American Alliance of Museums’ Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Working Group, AAM, 2018 aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/AAM-DEAI-Working-Group-Full-Report-2018.pdf
CCLI National Landscape Study: The State of DEAI Practices in Museums, Cecilia Garibay and Jeanne Marie Olson, Cultural Competence Learning Institute, 2020 community.astc.org/ccli/about-us/landscape-study
Tucson Museum of Art IDEA Plan, 2020 tucsonmuseumofart.org/inclusion-diversity-equity-access/
Tucson Museum of Art 2020-2023 Strategic Plan, 2019 tucsonmuseumofart.org/strategic-planning/
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