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Friday, 9 September 2011

Back to Swansea - But still thinking of Poznan

This was my favourite object in the Poznan Museum, Bes-Harpocrates, an androgynous Bes with sidelock of youth. I was told that there is one other similar elsewhere but I'm afraid I didn't note its location.

Back in Swansea now, but still digesting the events of the past week. As always CIPEG was wonderful- I recommend it to all who are interested in Egyptology collections. The Poznan Museum was wonderful, the people, both conference attendees and Poznan people were friendly, and lots to entertain and educate.

There was more discussion of ethics and collecting. Difficult to summarise but one of the things that struck me was how most of our collections contain great quantities of unprovenanced but legally obtained material. Keith Amery gave a brilliant summary of the UK antiquities law. I didn't know that artefacts were being sold from the Cairo Museum as late as 1983. Keith explained that it was important to publish private collections. Tom Hardwick, on a related theme presented fascinating new insights into the 'Bolton Princess' and the conduct of the auction house, Christies. There was also much discussion of how the antiquities market is now effectively closed to museums (very few objects and most unaffordable) and that therefore we should be concentrating on loans. Emily Teeter explored the problems caused by private individuals suing other states with the bizarre consequence that museum collections were threatened with seizure by governments.

Traveled back from the UK on Tuesday and went to Jac Janssen's funeral. What a great man, certainly a life well lived. Then a quick visit to meet up with Margaret Serpico and Stephen Quirk at the Petrie regarding ACCES issues. ACCES is the museum curators' subject specialist network for Egypt and the Sudan. Thanks to Campbell Price it even has its own Facebook site and web page, both very much worth visiting.

So, now back in Swansea, lots to catch up on.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

CIPEG Conference

Hello from Poznan, a beautiful city with friendly people and great food! Also a particularly good museum and at the moment an interesting conference (I'm sure it will continue to be interesting-CIPEG conferences always are).

Yesterday was the first day of the CIPEG conference. CIPEG is the Egyptoloical branch of ICOM, you can find out more about it here: http://cipeg.icom.museum/

The web site is new, we were all shown it yesterday after a beautiful speech by our host at Poznan. Andrzej Cweik pointed out that yesterday was the 1st September, historically an important date for conflict but hopefully now an important date for friendship. We also learnt about the CIPEG Red List, a list of types of Egyptological heritage that are under threat. Hopefully the heritage of Egypt will be a high priority with the new regime. And, much time was spent debating the ICOM code of conduct. Although in some ways I'm tired of debating ethics (it seems to be a popular topic in museum circles), yesterday was more interesting as we learnt more about the different laws and museological practices in our different countries (Egypt, the Ukraine, Poland, USA, France, Germany, Vienna, etc). Although we all seemed to agree on what ideally was the correct thing to do, often the laws and customs of our individual countries made the practice different. So, for example, in America there is a profession of people called 'appraisers' who can advise people on their antiquities (not the same as dealers here). France can't return Egyptological artefacts as the law of the country stipulates that items held in French museums belong to the public. Also in America there is a big difference between assessioning and acquistioning artefacts and museums will often acquisition but not accession artefacts. I hope I haven't got all this wrong, please comment in the box if you think I have.

I have always found CIPEG conferences to be welcoming and educational. The first day of this one has proved to be so to. Lots of talks and museum visiting over the next cople of days.

I must thank CyMAL and the Welsh Federation of Museums who contributed a significant slice of the travel and accommodation fees for me to attend this conference.