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ASEMUS Executive Committee Meeting, Sweden, 2011

ASEMUS meeting at Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm

The ASEMUS Executive Committee was held at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm, Sweden on the 8th October 2011. This was followed by the VCM Trustees meeting on the 9th October. At this Executive Committee meeting, the Chair of the ASEMUS Exco was handed over from the Musee du quai Branly, Paris [1] to the National Museum of Korea, Seoul [2].

We would like to welcome Dr Kim Youngna [3] as the new Chair of ASEMUS Executive committee and Fionnuala Croke [4] from the Chester Beatty Library as the Vice-Chair.

Download: Dr Kim Youngna’s opening remarks as Chair of ASEMUS Executive Committe [5] (PDF, 90kb)

Please find below the minutes of the meeting:


1. Stephane Martin, President, musee du quai Branly (Chair)
2. Choe Chongpil, Director, (Vice-Chair)
3. Kim Youngna, Director-General, National Museum of Korea
4. Fionnuala Croke, Director, Chester Beatty Museum
5. Steven Engelsman, Director, National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden
6. Sanne Houby-Nielsen , Director, National Museums of World Culture
7. Sasiwimon Wongjarin Project Officer, ASEF
8. Choi Hoon-chang, Head of International Relations & PR Division, National Museum of Korea
9. Karl Magnusson, International Cooperation Manager, National Museums of World Culture
10. Kim Jongsok, Curator, International Relations & PR Division, National Museum of Korea
11. Kang Sujin, Coordinator, International Relations & PR Division, National Museum of Korea
12. Tan Huism, Executive Secretary, ASEMUS

Absent with apologies:

Michael Willis, Chen Xiejun, Alan Chong, Jeremy Barnes, Christine Stelzig


1. The meeting’s agenda was approved and adopted.

2. The Chair Stephane Martin welcomed the new members of the ASEMUS Executive committee. He also mentioned that there will be a new patron for ASEMUS –  Ambassador Michel Filhol who will be appointed ASEF’s director for about a year. The next ASEF director from Asia has yet to be identified.

Update on ASEMUS projects

Self and Others Travelling Exhibition project
3. The exhibition titled Bisa: Potent Presences, the Philippines version of the Self and Others was opened to the public from the 20 May to 15 July 2011, at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. This exhibition was curated by Dr Patrick D Flores, eminent international curator and art critic, and director of the Vargas Museum of the University of the Philippines. The Philippine version is based on the Filipino word for potency, efficacy, charm, enchantment, specter, and prowess that is linked up with talismanic culture as well as cognate to the Malay word for ability, the possibility of doing. This series of ASEMUS exhibitions were made possible under the aegis of the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF).

Peranakan Research project

4. As a continuation of the above project, Tan Huism informed that the Asian Civilisations Museum had co-organised an exhibition on Peranakan culture titled Baba Bling: Chinese Peranakan of Singapore at the musee du quai Branly (MQB) from its collection.  The exhibition and related programmes drew about 103,000 people. In return, MQB had sent an exhibition on the Congo River to ACM. This exhibition was the first time an African art exhibition has been shown in Southeast Asia. Stephane Martin mentioned that this exhibition may travel to Korea and China.

ASEMUS Website

 5. Huism introduced the newly revamped ASEMUS website and logo. The website which is hosted on ASEF’s culture360.org [6] portal was launched in July 2011. To date, the website had received 1,215 unique visitors in September, who spent around 2 minutes each on the site. The new website was designed with ASEMUS members and the general public in mind. The website provides a platform for museums to publicise their activities and Huism encouraged members to send relevant information to be uploaded. She thanked the project team which includes the VCM and ASEF team for their inputs and contributions.

Social Media Channels

6. Aside from the website, an ASEMUS Facebook page [7] has also been recently launched. As of 7 October, the number of likes has been 134 with 976 monthly active users.  These numbers are increasing. A twitter account will also be launched in due course and the first email ASEMUS newsletter will be sent out a week after the Exco meeting.

Update Nov 24 2011: The ASEMUS Twitter channel [8] was launched at the end of October.

Mapping of Asian Collections Project:

7. Huism brought the meeting through the mapping project and the discussions that took place at the preparatory meeting held in July in Singapore. She informed that from the discussions, an on-line survey was designed which categories the information into collection area and type. Such information was deemed by the team to be important in order for this map to be useful.  It also makes developing a search option for such categories possible.

8. The core working team had submitted information on their collections using the on-line survey form and the information would be uploaded onto the map in due course.

 9. Huism then showed the possibility of how such a map could look.  At the most basic level it would be to use goggle earth (a free software) to generate a map which marks the cultural institutions which have Asian collections. MQB, the lead European partner in this project had already developed a prototype map using this method. In order for users to be able to search in terms of collection area and type, this would require a more sophisticated software which  may amount to around US $20,000 to purchase. The latter option would of course be more beneficial.

10. Stephane Martin brought the meeting through the prototype map using goggle earth designed by MQB. He mentioned that the MQB team had already plotted out the various institutions in France which holds Asian collections. At this level, the information is basic and only marks the location of the institution. Information on the institutions can be uploaded later.

11. Steven Engelsman asked what would the buy in be for museums or other cultural institutions to participate in this mapping project. Stephane Martin replied that it was to be on the map. Understandably not all museums would be featured, but it will be an on-going project. Huism mentioned that already there are ASEMUS members who have volunteered to be National Focal points in order to gather the required information for the map.

12. Given that there are no available funds this year, the lead partners: MQB and the National Museum of Korea (NMK) with the project team will come up with a plan on how to continue with this project on the free model.

13. The question of long-term sustainability of this project was raised and Steven Engelsman suggested that there should be ways to see how this project could synergise with VCM. He said that the mapping project is complementary to VCM for the mapping project is basically a broad approach while the VCM provides depth of information.

14. More discussions will be held at the VCM Trustee’s meeting the next day.

(Postscript: The mapping project team will work together with the VCM team to put a proposal to approach VCM’s potential supporter Naver for this project).

ASEF Funding Structure

15. Sasiwimon Wongjarin informed the meeting of one of the focus areas of the Cultural Exchange Department in ASEF for the coming years is on heritage. She went on to describe the ways in which ASEF has supported ASEMUS in the past year –the revamp of the website, the support rendered to organise the preparatory meeting for the Mapping project and raising the visibility of ASEMUS in various events like the 17th ASEF University, the ASEM Senior Official’s meeting in Lombok and the 5th World Summit on Arts and Culture in Melbourne.

16. In future, ASEF has pledged to continue to support the ASEMUS website and its hosting as part of their culture 360.org portal. They would also continue being involved in the organisation of the General conference and executive meetings.

17.  With regards to supporting the network’s projects, ASEF will be considering future support for on-going or new projects under the framework of the Asia-Europe Cultural Partnership initiatives. She suggested that ASEMUS submits its proposals to ASEF via the Secretariat by June next year. Approval for such funds usually takes place around October and thus the project can only be implemented in the latter part of the year. The total amount of funding they can provide is a maximum of Singapore $25,000 per project. The Mapping project could thus be submitted for the next funding cycle. Although there was no guarantee for support from ASEF, Sasiwimon assured that ASEMUS projects would be given the highest consideration.

ASEMUS Membership

18. To date the number of ASEMUS institutional members stand at 82 and since January this year, ten new members have joined the network. This includes the first museum from Australia. Huism wanted to acknowledge the efforts of the National Museum of Korea for getting more Korean museums to join as members.

19.  ASEF had asked whether it would be possible to try and secure at least one museum from each ASEM country to be represented on the network. Huism informed that she will work out a strategy of doing so in the next few months and would seek support from Exco members.

Executive Committee Matters:

20. Given that the membership to ASEM has increased to include the Russian Federation, Australia and New Zealand, it was decided that number of Executive members should also increase to reflect this. It was decided that EXCO members should try to recruit at least one more European and one more Asian museum and two more members from any of the three new ASEM member states before the next general conference.

21. It was agreed that if potential candidates were found, information on them would be sent via email to the EXCO for approval and confirmation to be accepted as an EXCO member. The understanding given to potential new members is that they would have to take care of their own expenses incurred in attending ASEMUS meetings.

22. Steven Engelsman mentioned that we should revisit and revise the governance structure that was drawn up by Michael Ryan. Huism to circulate the governance structure to all EXCO members for review.

23. This meeting marked the end of the service of Stephane Martin, MQB as ASEMUS Chair and he is succeeded by Kim Youngna, National Museum of Korea (NMK). The Vice-Chair Choe Chong Pil of Sejong University Museum (who will be retiring) is succeeded by Fionnuala Croke, Chester Beatty Library. Both Stephane Martin and Choe Chong Pil were thanked for their leadership and continued contributions to the network.

24. The new Chair, Kim Youngna gave an address which spelt out the three areas that she would like to focus on – education, information technology and personnel exchange. To this regard, she informed that the NMK will be holding an international seminar on education next year and encouraged ASEMUS members to have fellowship programmes. She also informed that NMK has been fulfilling their duty as the Asian lead partner in VCM and have been working to increase  members’ participation in VCM and on making VCM more sustainable.

25. Kim Youngna informed that preparations for the ASEMUS general conference are underway and welcomed any advice from ASEMUS members for the organising of this event.

Next meeting

26. The next EXCO meeting will be held in the Seoul, Korea in late September or early October 2012 during the time of the ASEMUS General conference. 

Minutes by:

Tan Huism, National Heritage Board, Singapore [9]

Secretary of ASEMUS