INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from The Art Newspaper
A new outbreak of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in Beijing has dashed hopes of returning the city's art world to full operations after months of nearly zero domestic transmissions.
As of yesterday, 137 infections have been traced to the Xinfadi Wholesale Produce Market in south Beijing’s Fengtai District. All schools in the city have now been closed, and 11 residential compounds near the market have been quarantined. While commercial galleries within the 798 creative park and nearby gallery cluster Caochangdi remain open, several private museums have voluntarily closed. M Woods, which had only reopened on 12 June with Collective Care: A House With Many Guests, closed its 798 location as of today; its downtown Longfu location had not reopened since the initial lockdown closure in February. The UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, also in 798, has remained open but at 30% capacity and visitor registration, as has been required since its 20 May reopening with the exhibition Meditations in an Emergency. The capacity restriction has been a condition for reopening at all of Beijing’s private museums.
Minsheng Art Museum Beijing and the newly launched X Museum respectively closed on 15 and 16 June. A spokeswoman for X Museum says it has yet to decide when to reopen. “In this situation the government said that all the institutions should control the visitor flow rate to under 30%, so institutions each have different reactions.” Spaces in 798 also “all need to take good measures to prevent and control the outbreak. If there were an outbreak happening from art institutions, they must all be shut down. There are no [closure] orders from the government at this stage.”
Galleries in 798 say they have been asked to continue following precautions already in place, such as temperature checking and visitor registration. Several dealers report seeing a drastic drop in public visitors to the complex, normally a popular destination for young Beijingers, and so have not had to actively restrict their numbers. The management of 798 today closed the Up&Coming Sector exhibition from last month’s Gallery Weekend Beijing three days ahead of schedule, in response to the situation, but has not implemented other measures beyond the existing temperature and health code checks at the entrance. Galleries in Caochangdi, which only reopened in mid-May, have most of their staff working from home, and visits by appointment-only.
Currently infections linked to Xinfadi have only been discovered in Beijing, but much of the country including Shanghai has implemented mandatory hotel quarantines for visitors from the capital. Travellers from Beijing must have a negative nucleic acid test within seven days, and 70% of flights to and from the city have been cancelled. The city has been testing 90,000 residents per day since Monday. The Xinfadi outbreak is China’s first since gradually reopening since March. It comes just as most of the country has fully reopened (although borders remain controlled), and puts to the test the systems China set up to navigate subsequent waves of Covid-19 infections.
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Reposted from Security Management
Culture breeds conflict. According to the 2020 Workplace Culture Report from workplace education and analytics company Emtrain, workplace culture is how people interact and treat each other in the workplace, and elements of those cultures will influence whether the organization is a positive or toxic workplace.
“We have seen for many years now, as company stakeholders, we have to deal with these bad outcomes that seem to catch us by surprise,” says Janine Yancey, CEO of Emtrain. “The idea was to take these bad outcomes—the tricky culture issues like harassment, bias, ethical mistakes, violence—and map them back to the indicators that are tied to behaviors or situations that, in heightened levels or when combined with each other, produce these bad outcomes.”
The research from a database of responses from 40,000 employees across more than 125 companies traces workplace conflict back to six key indicators: three people indicators (unconscious bias, social intelligence, and preexisting mind-sets) and three organizational indicators (in-groups and out-groups, power dynamics, and norms and practices).
“This is just part of being human—we carry our proclivities into the workplace,” says Yancey. “It’s the human condition, and when not well-understood and broken down into patterns we can all understand and process, then we’re just going to be emotionally reacting off each other, and that’s what breeds conflict.”
That reactive stance can have serious consequences for organizational safety and security, says Steven Millwee, CPP, president and CEO for background screening and investigations firm SecurTest, Inc.
“A lot of misbehavior happens in organizations that have a toxic work environment; that’s the sheer motivation for destruction of property, the theft of intellectual property, stealing, or just becoming abusive," Millwee says.
“If you work in an atmosphere where your manager is extremely toxic, you feel unappreciated, you feel isolated, no one listens to you, no one cares about you, your management team is totally disengaged from you,” he adds. “This oppressive type of atmosphere motivates a person to not do their job—or just do the bare minimum of the job—or it creates a catalyst for the employee to act out because they feel they need to take some action, albeit inappropriate action. This can lead to all kinds of misbehavior as punishment for the way they are being treated. It doesn’t justify their behavior, but it shows you the motivation that generated it.”
Unconscious bias. As employers commit to diversity goals and workforces become more multicultural and multigenerational, these unintended, learned stereotypes come to the fore.
The Emtrain study found that more than half of employees surveyed report working with five or more diverse coworkers of different races, genders, or generations in their teams, although they have yet to see that much diversity among executives.
In addition, although organizations increasingly encourage workers to voice their opinions and “bring their whole selves to work,” the report said, only 32 percent of respondents said they strongly agree they can be their authentic self in the workplace.
On this factor, awareness is an essential first step. But awareness alone will not decrease the effect of unconscious biases. Most employees don’t see the processes that organizations can use to mitigate unconscious bias, such as role modeling, consistent employee evaluation, and equal division of support tasks.
Social intelligence. This is the ability to recognize and negotiate the social dynamics of the workplace, and these skills vary widely across the workforce. Only 46 percent of employees surveyed by Emtrain said their coworkers understand the impact their words or behaviors have on those around them, and just 23 percent said their coworkers can accurately pick up on the mood in a room.
The study found that 86 percent of employees strongly agreed empathy is important at work, but only 42 percent strongly agreed that they see it from their colleagues. The study also found that when employees experience lower levels of social intelligence from their colleagues, they also experience lower levels of trust and respect. In addition, employees are less likely to feel safe speaking up.
Preexisting mind-sets. “Employee expectations and perceptions about what constitutes respectful behavior are informed by life experience,” the report said. “As our workforce diversifies, employee perspectives will likely diversity as well.”
Employees carry different perceptions of experiences and conflicts with them, and they often see their perspective as the correct one—amplifying the potential for conflict and misunderstanding. They bring similar diversity and preconceptions about how to resolve conflict. In a scenario where employees were asked how they would address a significant conflict between people with different life experiences, the majority (60 percent) would re-
engage their manager later to discuss what happened, but 26 percent would go to HR or a senior leader to discuss or complain, 7 percent would do nothing, and 7 percent would consider job hunting or changing teams at work.
“Teaching healthy conflict resolution skills could make the difference between keeping and losing top talent,” the report said.
In-groups and out-groups. Most people can easily recognize in-groups from their school days: cliques, popular groups, the “it crowd.” At work, these groups can form around race, gender, political beliefs, or other factors. People in out-groups receive less trust and support from their managers compared to members of in-groups. For example, 63 percent of in-group employees surveyed said that if they report something, they are confident management will take the complaint seriously. Only 40 percent of out-group employees said the same.
These groups also color how an employee’s actions are perceived by their peers and coworkers. For example, when shown a video scene of harassing behavior, employees were less likely to classify the behavior as misconduct when the perpetrator is a person in power or a member of a perceived in-group, Yancey says. Members of more marginalized out-groups were met with less empathy and compassion.
“This research proved out that certain demographics really do have second-class experience,” Yancey says. While the separate treatment does not reach the level of a legally actionable different experience in the workplace, it’s very subtle—and it adds up—she notes.
Power dynamics. The use of hierarchical power by managers can range from coercion to influence to empowerment. “The reason power dynamics are so important in understanding the health of workplace culture—where a manager has discretion over the daily activities, career progress, and livelihood of other employees—is that the consequences of employees’ speaking up in an unhealthy situation can be so, well…consequential,” the Emtrain report said.
While the majority of managers are not tyrants—most survey respondents said it is rare for people to get away with disrespectful behavior because of their authority—nearly one-third of survey participants identified power disparity as causing the greatest level of conflict at work. More common than tyrant managers are clueless managers. Only three in 10 employees said they are unlikely to say no to a boss’s inappropriate request, but employees say only one in five managers understand that employees have a hard time refusing.
“The result: managers do not get the feedback they need when they misstep and employees tolerate disrespectful behaviors they would not accept from others,” the report said.
Power dynamics can shift in a toxic direction, especially when combined with one or more of the personal cultural factors. If a manager has power but weak social intelligence skills, employees may feel uncomfortable or underappreciated, but could be unwilling to speak out for fear of repercussions.
Imbalanced power dynamics can also be expensive for the organization.
According to July 2019 research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), workers consider culture and managers to be closely connected. The report, The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture: How Culture Impacts the Workforce—and the Bottom Line, found that 58 percent of American employees who quit a job due to workplace culture say their managers are the main reason they left. This turnover, SHRM reported, cost employers $223 billion over a five-year period.
Norms and practices. These are the spoken and unspoken rules that govern what is and is not appropriate workplace behavior. Deliberate, positive norms are the strongest predictor of healthy culture, and they can counterbalance negative effects from the other cultural indicators, the report said. Norms and practices are essentially a guide to “the way we do things here,” the report said.
“We all as humans have our own peccadillos—we all have our unconscious biases, our social intelligence is strong or not so strong, our preexisting mind-sets from our last job or experience. We bring all that with us into the workplace. The way to balance that out is having strong norms and practices,” Yancey says.
However, only half of employees see strong norms and practices at their companies. Out of the 125 companies included in the report, the healthiest organizations’ employees said they were guided by strong norms and practices, Yancey notes. Among employees who see strong norms at their workplace, 75 percent said their organization is healthy, compared to 32 percent of employees who do not see strong norms.
Without strong norms, however, “it’s a vacuum. Anyone’s behavior can basically set the culture,” she says. “You’ll have a culture, it just won’t be one that is intentional or proactively set. It’s one that is created by usually the worst behaviors and worst elements of the organization.”
Strong norms can be built in a variety of ways, including leaders’ role modeling, training, skill building sessions, constructive feedback structures, and compelling change stories, the report said.
Security professionals can influence company culture by serving as eyes and ears within the organization and reporting on misconduct—even outside the security department, says Millwee. This helps to spread the burden of reporting outside a manager’s direct reports, who may not feel comfortable coming forward.
Security practitioners can also understand where their organization’s cultural hotspots are and serve as a cross-department collaborator to help address them, she says.
One rapidly emerging hotspot, especially in the United States, is politics, she adds. With a contentious election on the horizon and increasingly polarized political factions, workplaces could face heightened tensions. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into many employees’ long-term financial plans and ratcheted up health concerns. Altogether, these are ingredients for an explosive situation that could affect overall workplace culture as well as security, Yancey says.
However, “we’re going into a rough business climate, both economically and civically, because of healthcare. Culture can either really help be the rudder that steers the organization forward, or it’s toxic, which means there’s no rudder and the organization’s spinning,” Yancey says.
“On one positive note,” Millwee says, “the challenges that employers are going through right now, just with the COVID-19 pandemic, really create an opportunity for a reset of where their cultures need to be refined.”
“Employees working from home or not working at all may be very anxious or worried about what the future looks like. Sometimes we tend to minimize what others are thinking or feeling, but really their feelings and thoughts are just the same as ours,” he adds. “By showing a sense of compassion and mercy—not shooting the walking wounded—you can engage your people and let them know that they can feel safe in your workplace. That can do more for your culture in today’s situation than almost anything else.”
Reposted from The New York Times
Upon arriving at work, employees should get a temperature and symptom check.
Inside the office, desks should be six feet apart. If that isn’t possible, employers should consider erecting plastic shields around desks.
Seating should be barred in common areas.
And face coverings should be worn at all times.
These are among sweeping new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the safest way for American employers reopening their offices to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
If followed, the guidelines would lead to a far-reaching remaking of the corporate work experience. They even upend years of advice on commuting, urging people to drive to work by themselves, instead of taking mass transportation or car-pooling, to avoid potential exposure to the virus.
The recommendations run from technical advice on ventilation systems (more open windows are most desirable) to suggested abolition of communal perks like latte makers and snack bins.
“Replace high-touch communal items, such as coffee pots, water coolers, and bulk snacks, with alternatives such as prepackaged, single-serving items,” the guidelines say.
And some border on the impractical, if not near impossible: “Limit use and occupancy of elevators to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.”
The C.D.C., the nation’s top public health agency, posted the guidelines on its website as states are beginning to lift their most stringent lockdown orders. Shops, restaurants, beaches and parks are reopening in phases. But white-collar office employees at all levels mostly continue to work from home, able to function effectively with laptops, video conferencing and Slack.
Some of the measures are in keeping with what some employers are already planning, but other employers may simply decide it’s easier to keep employees working from home.
“Companies, surprisingly, don’t want to go back to work,” said Russell Hancock, president and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a nonprofit think tank that studies the region. “You will not see the drum beat and hue and cry and rush to get back to the office.”
Citing extreme examples like Twitter, which has said it may never return to corporate office space, Mr. Hancock said that he has heard similar things from both Silicon Valley companies and those outside the region. Many are planning to stay safe by thinning who is required to come to work, along with making plans consistent with the C.D.C. guidelines.
“Incessant disinfecting of surfaces, cleansing out your HVAC,” he said, referring to the ventilation system, “opening windows, ventilation, all of those things.”
Tracy Wymer, vice president of workplace for Knoll, Inc., a large office-furniture company, who has been in discussions with numerous companies about the safest way to reopen, said he agreed with much of what the C.D.C. was advising but he added that a big part of successful reopening would involve employee compliance.
“The biggest factor is on the work force and the personal responsibility they must take in making this reality work,” he said.
The C.D.C. addressed that part too, reiterating what has become a kind of national mantra: regular hand washing of at least 20 seconds; no fist bumps or handshakes; no face touching.
The C.D.C. recommended that the isolation for employees should begin before they get to work — on their commute. In a stark change from public policy guidelines in the recent past, the agency said individuals should drive to work — alone.
Employers should support this effort, the agency said: “Offer employees incentives to use forms of transportation that minimize close contact with others, such as offering reimbursement for parking for commuting to work alone or single-occupancy rides.”
Smaller companies also have already been discussing how to reopen, some with the kinds of ideas the C.D.C. is recommending. But there are distinctive challenges in many offices. For instance, those that do not have windows that open to the outside, permitting ventilation; have little or no access to outdoor space; or are small and open, with floor plans that were de rigueur just six months ago and now are verboten.
Peter Kimmel, the publisher of FMLink, a publication serving the facilities management industry, said that the C.D.C. guidelines are “a good checklist of what needs to be done.”
But they also raise numerous questions, he said, including how social distancing will work. “This means many fewer workplaces per floor, reducing the density considerably. Where will the remaining workers be housed? Will the furniture work in the new layout?” he asked.
“While there are many solutions, these often require substantial thought and a budget that likely doesn’t exist,” he said.
Mobify, a Vancouver-based company with 40 employees that helps build digital storefronts for major retailers, moved back into its office last week and has already made a number of the changes recommended by the C.D.C. The building’s landlord now requires mask use in the elevator. Other changes the company made on its own.
“One person per table. We put arrows on the floor so people will go to the restroom one direction and come out the other,” said Igor Faletski, the company’s chief executive. “No more shared food. Sanitation stations with wipes.”
At the same time, he said, there may be a larger force at work: the impulses of the workers themselves.
“Since we opened up last week, only five employees have come in,” he said. “Because the office is quite big, there was room for people to sit in different corners.”
Reposted from Pinnacol Assurance
Colorado businesses are beginning the gradual transition from pandemic-induced closings to reentry mode.
While every business must make changes to reopen safely, there’s no single approach that will work for everyone. Employers must stay flexible and focused.
“This will be a continuous improvement process — not something where you set up your plan, open your doors and you’re ready to go,”says Jon Vonder Haar, safety consultant at Pinnacol. “It will be constantly evolving. Guidance may change based on the information coming in.”
To help you prepare, we have put together tips for creating your reentry strategy, broken into four critical areas.
Who will the reopening impact?
Knowing who can report to work is critical to operations planning. Many workplaces can have only half of employees present under the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order.
Start by identifying vulnerable populations who remain under the stay-at-home order, such as workers overage 65 or those who have diabetes or heart conditions. You cannot compel these employees to return to on-site work, and you must continue to provide accommodations for them to work from home.
You should have the right equipment and support available to enable remote workers, such as storing key information off-site and creating a communication protocol.
You should also offer flexible schedules or remote work opportunities to employees with eldercare or childcare responsibilities and to those who have a vulnerable individual in their household.
Once you know who can and can’t return to the work site, make adjustments that accommodate changes in work, such as:
Make your building a healthy environment where your team can thrive.
Workplaces with more than 50 employees on-site must implement more strategies. Either develop a business policy or setup stations for temperature checks and symptom screenings, close your common areas, and implement mandatory cleaning and disinfection protocols.
When will the reopening happen?
Have a target date in mind to reopen. Consider the unique aspects of your operations while planning reopening. It could take hours or weeks to get ready.
“So much depends on the scope of the business’s operation,” notes Tom Jensen, OHST and senior safety consultant at Pinnacol. “Are they a small retailer with 1,000 square feet of space where everyone does the same job, or are they a larger business with multiple operations and types of work, with vehicles, tools and equipment?”
You may need to set new hours of operation if you lack the staff to maintain your old hours. Staggered starts and shifts can reduce the number of employees on-site at any given time.
Reduce peak traffic in and out of the facility by setting off-peak office hours, such as after 5 p.m. or before 8 a.m. This is one way to offer scheduling flexibility to vulnerable workers or those with a vulnerable person in the household.
Eliminate shared workspaces if you can and assign equipment mindfully. The more people who use that one space or thing, the more you have to clean.
How will you lead the reopening?
Determining how to implement changes may be the most challenging aspect for many businesses. “Give different things a try and see what works. As mentioned earlier, this is a continuous improvement process,” Vonder Haar says.
To promote the health and safety of employees, employers must follow measures required by the public health order. These activities include:
Your coordinator can also study industry-specific guidance and requirements from the CDPHE, which cover:
Your coordinator can also study industry-specific guidance and requirements from the CDPHE.
In addition to looking out for the safety of your employees, you also need to account for customers, patients or vendors who come through your doors.
Eliminate direct contact when possible by using electronic correspondence, no-touch trash containers, gloves and masks, and contactless payment methods. Other precautions include:
“This whole process can be confusing and difficult,” Jensen says. Ask Pinnacol if you aren’t sure about something, such as whether a stated guidance is a requirement or a suggestion.
Reposted from American Libraries Magazine
It’s an unprecedented situation. Conservators, who are experienced in diagnosing and repairing collection damage, say that historical information on sanitizing library materials is lacking. Besides a bit of anecdotal evidence from a 2019 Smithsonian Magazine article, there’s very little historical data available, says Evan Knight, preservation specialist at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners: “There’s nothing published or shared from previous epidemics.”
It’s also a challenge to sift through evolving research. A January study in the Journal of Hospital Infection reported that coronaviruses similar to SARS-CoV-2, the one responsible for COVID-19, can persist on some inanimate surfaces (such as metal, glass, and plastic) for as long as nine days and on paper for four or five days. Meanwhile, recent data from the National Institutes of Health indicate SARS-CoV-2 is detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, on copper for up to four hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for perhaps only two to three days.
The pandemic also presents challenges of a more philosophical nature. “[It’s] difficult to reconcile the public health requirements of this pandemic with our mission,” says Jacob Nadal, director for preservation at the Library of Congress (LC), which closed to the public on March 12 and has canceled events through July 1. “It is heartbreaking to see how this disease forces us to step back at exactly the time we want to step up.”
Yet stepping back may be the best defense against a still developing threat. The easiest, safest, and most inexpensive disinfectant is time. “This pandemic is a unique situation for most conservators, so we don’t know a lot about disinfecting generally, and this virus specifically,” says Knight. “Our view is that prophylaxis, or preventive measures, are best.”
Fletcher Durant, director of conservation and preservation at the University of Florida’s George A. Smathers Libraries, suggests that all libraries follow the March 17 ALA recommendation to close to the public. “Isolation for a minimum of 24 hours, and preferably 14 days, is the best disinfectant,” he says. “It is simply the best and safest thing that we as librarians can do at this time.” Durant says it’s about protecting libraries as well as the public. “Libraries could provide a risk vector for the spread of the disease, which, beyond the direct health impacts, could reduce the public trust in libraries,” he says.
That also means libraries should plan to stay closed until the risk of public infection is eliminated. “We would be the first to say that we are not equipped to make recommendations on virology, bacteriology, or medical matters,” says Nadal. “Quarantine past the viability of the virus is the best plan.”
Some libraries, however, have a mission that precludes complete quarantine. LC, for example, continues to support Congress while it’s in session, which requires some staff to be onsite. Other libraries are maintaining services with curbside checkouts of materials. That means additional sanitizing methods are warranted.
Internal hard surfaces, including tabletops, door handles, book drops, and computers, should be professionally cleaned. Experts also note that virtual reality headsets have been flagged as a risk factor, and libraries should postpone their use. “If at all possible, hire a professional cleaning service that has appropriate training and personal protective equipment to do this work,” says Nadal. “This is a time for exceptional caution.”
Any staff working onsite should institute thorough hand-washing, especially when handling books or any shared objects in the library. “There are no studies that specifically answer the question of how transmissible the coronavirus might be from the most common library materials, [such as] coated and uncoated paper, book cloth, or polyester book jackets,” Nadal says. “We have to look for high-quality information and evaluate it critically to determine how well it applies to our particular concerns.”
Knight says librarians should be cautious when using cleaning solvents on books and other potentially fragile library materials. “I am not aware of a ‘least damaging’ cleaner or disinfectant, especially for any objects of obvious lasting value,” he says, explaining that the risks to books subjected to aqueous cleaning or disinfecting include water damage and weakened hinges and joints. “Books wrapped in polyester or polyethylene can be more reasonably cleaned and disinfected, and strong library-binding buckram cloth coverings can probably withstand the enhanced cleaning too,” he adds. “But again, if one is planning to clean and disinfect collections, even among poly-covered volumes, they should understand and accept that there will be collection damage.”
There’s evidence that certain methods may not be effective anyway. “Common misperceptions may be that spraying or wiping the outside of a volume with Lysol, alcohol, or bleach is sufficient to denature the virus across the entire volume,” says Durant.
Ultraviolet (UV) light also poses a potential risk to collection materials because of its high intensity. And because of how difficult it is to confirm that every page has been exposed to the light, the effort could prove fruitless. “UV germicidal irradiation has generally been found to be effective at exposure of 2–5 millijoules per square centimeter [mJ/cm2],” says Durant. “However, for this exposure to be effective, it must be complete exposure, [which is] something that is almost impossible to achieve with bound books. It’s certainly not as effective as simply isolating the books for at least 14 days.”
Yet even as libraries continue to learn new preservation procedures, certain constants remain. “This is a good time to think about the role of libraries as stewards of memory and culture,” says Nadal. “We are going to be closed for a period of time, and our ethic of constant service will make this painful. Keeping materials quarantined and out of circulation will be frustrating. [But] we are keepers of a long history, and our foremost obligation now is to make sure that there is a long future for the recorded knowledge and creativity entrusted into our care.”
As nonessential employees re-enter the workplace, face masks are becoming an integral tool in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, research shows that people who have no symptoms can spread COVID-19. Wearing a non-medical face mask helps minimize the spread of the virus. The department recommends that everyone wear a mask when in public.
Most of us aren't used to wearing masks, so it's normal to have questions. Let's dive into the answers to some key questions about proper mask protocol.
Unless you're front-line personnel, a DIY cloth mask is probably all you need. That helps reserve N95 respirators for healthcare workers and first responders.
Many employers are providing masks, if possible; if yours doesn't, you can consider making your own.
The Colorado Mask Project has instructions and patterns. It recommends that masks include the following:
WHAT ARE SOME BEST PRACTICES FOR SAFELY PUTTING ON AND TAKING OFF A FACE MASK?
A face mask is protective only if you handle and wear it correctly. Follow these best practices for the best results:
Sanitation is the name of the game. Fortunately, cloth face masks are easy to take care of. Follow these guidelines:
HOW CAN I KEEP MY SUNGLASSES, GOGGLES OR OTHER EYE-COVERINGS FROM FOGGING UP?
If your eyewear gets foggy when you’re wearing a mask, try these tricks:
As we enter our new normal, wearing a mask is a small price to pay for increased health and safety. So, don your new accessory with fashion and pride.
Reposted from ICOM
As lockdowns gradually come to an end in several regions and countries, museums have to revise and update their health security protocols to reopen properly. While national regulations vary depending on the specific evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some basic measures that can be taken to protect the health of both visitors and staff.
PREPARING FOR THE ARRIVAL OF THE PUBLIC
PUBLIC ACCESS – ADAPTING THE FLOW OF VISITORS
PUBLIC ACCESS – STRENGTHENING HEALTH MEASURES
PUBLIC ACCESS – RESTRICTING SOME ACCESS IF NECESSARY
RECEPTION AND SECURITY STAFF
CLEANING AND CONSERVATION MEASURES
IN THE OFFICE
Finally, it is recommended that museums that are not in a position to respond to these measures extend their temporary closings.
Reposted from Artnet News - Opinion
In the early evening of Wednesday, February 26, the crowd thronged the opening of “Young Rembrandt” at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum. We shook hands and brushed shoulders, air-kissed or embraced our friends, and leaned in to continue conversations as the director’s welcome rang through the thick atmosphere of wine and canapés. Today, to our immense collective sadness, through the time-warp and culture-shock effects of lockdown, our sociality of just a few weeks ago feels like a half-remembered dream of some distant ancient culture—one with radically different attitudes toward bodily contact, public health, and freedoms of association and assembly. In our absence, the galleries have gathered dust, reduced to mere storerooms.
When we finally unlock the museums, how will be find them transformed?
From comparable parts of the economy—the tourism, aviation or hospitality industries, for example—we learn that the COVID-19 era may accelerate certain structural changes that were already in process. The weekend before “Young Rembrandt” opened its Oxford chapter, Meta Knol, the director of the Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden, the Netherlands, which had hosted the first stage of this traveling exhibition, published her reflection on the so-called “Year of Rembrandt” that overtook 2019. Knol’s assessment of this celebration of the 350-year anniversary of the painter’s death, titled “Blockbuster Addiction,” was unequivocal. “This was the last time,” she wrote. “It really can’t go on.”
As cultural workers have adjusted to home-working, furlough, and home-schooling while trying to keep their mental health together, these past few weeks have also provided a time for reflection. Knol’s words have frequently come to mind. The future of many museum operations—events, education, outreach—could hardly be more uncertain. Careers and livelihoods are on the line.
A sense of precariousness is not unfamiliar to museum workers who were already living through austerity, Brexit, and the deregulation of the workforce. But long before this current health crisis, the skepticism about whether commercially-driven blockbuster exhibitions could ever plug the widening gaps in public funding for museums was already part of a much bigger existential question: Is the dominant model for 21st-century museums sustainable?
The concept of the “universal museum” was thought up by a group of museum directors as a coping mechanism for a prior crisis at the start of the millennium. In November 2002, the declaration of “the importance and value of universal museums” recast the most powerful cultural institutions of the Global North as custodians of world heritage, instruments of cross-cultural contact, and engines of destination tourism as the post-9/11 aviation industry sought to get back on its feet. As preparations for the 2003 Bush-Blair invasion of Iraq advanced, the British Museum forged a new corporate partnership with oil giant BP, and a light was shone on forgotten connections among extractive industries, militarist colonialism, and the public display of cultural property.
In the COVID-19 era, a different, more forensic light is now being shone into these vast storehouses, the self-styled “universal museums”—revealing fatigue in their shallow ideological foundations. First, social distancing throws into relief the absurdity of the hyper-concentration of cultural heritage in just a handful of metropolitan galleries, in the name of accessibility to an “international” public. Second, travel restrictions expose the short-term quality of an institutional financial model based on infinite growth in globe-trotting visitors. Some have even suggested that budgetary pressures will lead to deaccessioning and sales of artworks by museums, which would, in a stroke, remove the third remaining leg of the universal museum stool: their claim to safeguard culture for all humanity.
Social distancing and travel restrictions have exposed this fatigue, and are precipitating processes of rupture, but here coronavirus is a catalyst rather than a cause. A diminished airline industry and a revolution in working from home may have arrived sooner than expected—but neither comes as a surprise. And as a result, the model of the “universal museum” has failed.
This failure is one of economic resilience, but it also shows a loss of social legitimacy, as we see most clearly in the field of colonial restitution where the shaky moral justification offered for exhibiting world culture in a few Euro-American capital cities disintegrates as people stop flying. Over two decades, our most powerful institutions have promoted the hyper-centralization of the arts and heritage sector. In the UK, sustained cuts to local museum services have served to lock in an unsustainable reliance on domestic as well as international travel. The hubris of the richest institutions has maximized, rather than mitigated, the museum sector’s vulnerability to finding itself on a disorderly front line, alongside the airlines and the oil industry, as the world catches up with the reality of Net Zero and starts to reassemble a new green economy.
The reality that preceded the coronavirus was already a period of reflection and scrutiny and far from a Golden Age for Europe’s museums. One major outcome of the Rembrandt-packed exhibition year in 2019 was for the very notion of the Golden Age to be called into question, since it serves to whitewash the ongoing legacies of slavery and colonial violence.
Then, just days before “Young Rembrandt” opened in Oxford, on February 7 and 8, the British Museum witnessed the largest protest in its 267-year history. #BPMustFall climate activists staged an extraordinary, peaceful occupation with a wooden Trojan Horse to oppose BP’s sponsorship of the exhibition “Troy: Myth and Reality”; in doing so, they joined the dots between the fights for decarbonization and decolonization. Museums’ universalist model of blockbusters was being questioned, including the green-washing of disaster capitalism that bankrolls it, the carbon footprint that lies behind it, and the ongoing geopolitical history of inequality and dispossession that sits beneath it.
The world has never needed museums more than it does today. Before the present crisis, a new kind of humanism was already emerging as curators sought to reframe their role as carers for people, communities, places, and environments rather than just conservers and presenters of objects for fleeting global audiences. In her article, Knol from the Museum De Lakenhal called for museums to start “telling local stories with a universal appeal, not as an expression of provincialism, but explicitly because we need to find new ways to understand the world.” The Ashmolean’s Rembrandt exhibition closed within its first month, but it can now be visited online. Such digital innovation will without a doubt proliferate and evolve—but that’s just one part of the story. The improvisations now required of us are not dress-rehearsals for the changes that climate emergency demands, but urgent and necessary first steps in navigating sweeping structural change.
We can no longer justify these concentrations of art, heritage, and culture in just a handful of metropolitan institutions, where so little is on display. Cultural funding and objects must now be equitably redistributed and no longer be used to prop up the most powerful museums. At this tipping point, let’s rebalance the value that we afford to smaller museums, those outside of the wealthiest capitals and in smaller cities and towns, as well as across the Global South, where museums are already being reimagined as human processes rather than bank vaults. Let us learn from and invest in non-universal museums that sustain different human worlds, environments, and communities, “multiversal museums” that care for people before caring for objects and that are unique public spaces for building communities.
As the culture shock of these times sinks in, we must not cling to the failed model of infinite visitor growth, but begin cultural redistribution and de-growth that builds more equitable global futures through art and heritage. A new sense of scale and a new ethos of humanity, resilience, justice, remembrance, equality, restitution, environmentalism, and care were already emerging in the museums sector. These values must now be the building blocks of our collective future.
Dan Hicks is an archaeologist, art historian, anthropologist, professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford, curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum, and a Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford.
Reposted from Artnet News
Five protesters were arrested after attempting to seize an African funerary object from Paris’s Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac with the hopes of returning it to Africa.
While the museum was open on Friday, the protesters made a 30-minute video documenting the theft, which was later uploaded online. “The names at the entrance of this museum are the names of colonizers who pillaged the art that is now here,” said the activist Mwazulu Diyabanza in the video, before grabbing the 19th-century wooden ritual pole object from its stand. “These items were pillaged between 1880 and 1960 under colonialism.”
The five activists were released from jail this weekend after community mobilization, according to posts on social media. A video posted online shows Dyabanza greeted with cheers and applause after exiting the police station. Diyanbanza, who is from Congo, says he is not allowed to leave France until his trial and is not permitted on the premises of the museum again.
In a statement to the press, culture minister Franck Riester condemned the act with “utmost firmness,” saying that actions such as these “damage” cultural heritage.
“While the debate on the restitution of works from the African continent is perfectly legitimate, it can in no way justify this type of action,” Riester said. “The work does not appear to have suffered any significant deterioration and the museum will take immediate action to carry out any necessary restoration work.”
The incident in Paris comes amid a wave of global protests denouncing racism after the death of George Floyd in the US at the end of May. Europe has seen widespread protests and attacks on colonial monuments in the UK and Belgium too.
According to a GoFundMe drive organized for Diyanbanza and the others who assisted him at the museum, members of the group face up to seven years in prison and a fine of €100,000. Their trial takes place September.
“We expected this,” Diyanbanza says in the video after leaving jail, adding that it is a fight that continues in Berlin, Switzerland, and London. “These goods and the money accrued during their exhibition must be returned.”
“This act is the trigger for other powerful actions for the restitution of our stolen, looted and plundered goods,” Diyanbanza told Artnet News. “We are risking a lot, but what is this risk worth in the face of the corpses of women, children, young and old massacred before their deaths!”
The museum filed a complaint with the police and an investigation is underway, according to the ministry. The museum did not respond to a request for comment.
The museum’s new director, Emmanuel Kasarhérou, who is of French and Melanesian descent, has the unique challenge of figuring out how to honor President Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 statement that the country would return cultural heritage to sub-Saharan Africa, which came after a landmark report urged France to take dramatic steps toward restitution. The Quai Branly holds at least 70,000 objects from that region alone; 66 percent of them entered the museum during the colonial era.
Since Macron’s statement, one object from the Quai Branly, a 19th-century saber seized from modern-day Mali, has been returned. The government also said the museum would return 26 looted artifacts to Benin by 2021. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Kasarhérou described the report as “very militant.”
“Western museology was born in the 19th century,” said a co-author of the report, Felwine Sarr, in a video interview. “It was a concept made for these objects.” Sarr added that the objects should be “resocialized” into African communities, including into schools, art venues, and research centers.
During the filming at the museum, Diyabanza noted that he paid €12 to enter the museum. “We did the calculation to see how much money our artworks generated for this museum” and the profits generated by the museum is into the billions, he said. “Today, we are recuperating what is ours.”
Reposted from the BBC
The latest issue of the jihadist group's online magazine One Ummah uses the iconic image of George Floyd's last moments and a painting by the graffiti artist Banksy to help deliver its message of unsolicited support to protesters on US streets.
The English-language issue, clearly aimed at a domestic US audience, predicts the imminent demise of the US and its political system as well its economy and society.
"Armed protests rage across America and a civil war appears to be in the offing," reads its commentary. One of its messages is that, "not even the Democrats can help you but we can".
Mina Al-Lami from BBC Monitoring says there is a contrast between the approaches of al-Qaeda and its main rival, the Islamic State group (IS). Whereas IS has simply been gloating at America's discomfort and predicting that the unrest will spread to other countries, al-Qaeda has been more subtle, reaching out and trying to convert Americans to its version of Islam and its cause, she says.
The magazine piece, our analyst suggests, has clearly been written by someone who has a good knowledge of what is going on in the US.
Al-Qaeda has largely been eclipsed in recent years by IS. But Dr Shiraz Maher, the Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London, believes it is proactively trying to show it still has relevance on the world stage.
"It [the Black Lives Matter protests] is a huge current event... which is having a cascading effect across the globe and beyond the media and political sphere into the cultural and artistic realm," Dr Maher says. "So al-Qaeda is seeking to move into that space and trying to say, 'look here we are'."
There is a profound irony that a group with one of the most oppressive and bloodthirsty ideologies in the Middle East should now be presenting itself to angry Americans as champions of their cause against police brutality and systemic racism.
Al-Qaeda, which under the leadership of the late Osama Bin Laden, carried out the worst-ever terrorist attack in US history in September 2001, imposed a rule of such intolerance when it held sway in Iraq's Falluja province that it cut men's fingers off if it caught them smoking cigarettes.
It has since spawned violent offshoots all over the world, including IS.
Yet, despite occasional and isolated attack, such as the one by an al-Qaeda-inspired Saudi at Pensacola, Florida, in December 2019, both groups have until now largely failed to build significant support in the US population. This is in marked contrast to Europe whose cities have produced numerous hotbeds of jihadist sympathisers from the 1990s onwards.
For months Western intelligence chiefs have been warning that al-Qaeda has not gone away, it has simply been waiting for the right opportunities.
Already this year both al-Qaeda and IS have trumpeted the way Covid-19 has afflicted the US and the UK particularly badly, saying this is just retribution for these two countries' actions in the Middle East. Yet Iran currently has over 175,000 people infected and Egypt is now reportedly experiencing around 2,000 new infections daily.
Today the fugitive jihadist group is trying to make common cause with those in the US protesting against police brutality and racial discrimination, but urging them towards violent action.
Certainly their intervention, if it is noticed, is likely to be most unwelcome for protesters.
Al-Qaeda is a proscribed terrorist organisation that killed nearly 3,000 Americans in the 11 September attacks and has vowed to keep targeting Americans.
So how worried should US counter-terrorism officials be? Dr Shiraz Maher, who has spent the last 20 years studying the group and its ideology, believes this is all about exploiting opportunities.
"The nature of this type of propaganda is that it's always trying to cast the fishing net out there. They just need to hook in one person to say 'look how successful our campaign was'," Dr Maher says.
"And that's the great difficulty Western intelligence and law enforcement face when trying to mitigate this type of threat."
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