ASEMUS Executive Committee Meeting, Leiden, 2016


The 20th meeting of the ASEMUS Executive Committee was held at the National Museum of World Cultures, Leiden, the Netherlands, on 17 November 2016.


  • Fionnuala Croke, Director, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (Chair)
  • Kennie Ting, Director, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore (Vice-­Chair)
  • Stijn Schoonderwoerd, Director, National Museum of World Cultures, Leiden
  • Kim Seung Kyu, Director of Cultural Relations and Publicity Division, National Museum of Korea, Seoul
  • Ann Folin, Director, Museum of World Cultures, Stockholm
  • Michael Lee, Director, Östasiatiska Museum, Sweden
  • Yang Zhigang, Director, Shanghai Museum, Peoples’ Republic of China
  • Zhou Yanqun, Chief of Cultural Exchange Office, Shanghai Museum, Peoples’ Republic of China
  • Hans van de Bunte, Sarawak Museum, Kuching, Malaysia
  • Kim Jongsok, Curator, International Relations and PR Division, National Museum of Korea, Seoul
  • Kong Hyeonji, VCM Coordinator, National Museum of Korea, Seoul
  • Jani Kuhnt Saptodewo, Curator, Weltmuseum Wien, Austria
  • Anupama Sekhar, Director, Culture Department, Asia-­Europe Foundation (ASEF)
  • David Henkel, Curator, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore (ASEMUS Secretariat)

Absent with apologies:

  • R. Mani, Director, National Museum of India, New Delhi
  • Stephane Martin, President, Musée du quai Branly
  • Christine Kron, Director, Five Continents Museum, Munich, Germany
  • Akiko Mabuchi, President, National Museum of Art, Japan
  • Jeremy Barns, Director, National Museum of the Philippines


The meeting’s agenda was approved and adopted.

The Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting minutes held in Singapore in November, 2015 were circulated and taken as read.

Chairman Fionnuala Croke thanked Dr Stijn Schoonderwoerd and the National Museum of World Cultures, Leiden for hosting the meeting and thanked all the members present for coming. Dr Schoonderword also welcomed all members to the meeting.

Virtual Collection of Asian Masterpieces (VCM) discussion
Ms Kong of the National Museum of Korea gave the trustees an update on VCM activities since the previous meeting in Singapore including ongoing changes and statistical analysis. They reported that the integration of VCM with ASEMUS and the migration of VCM content to the ASEMUS web platform was ongoing. The discussions went smoothly and the trustees were very satisfied with the steps taken so far and are in full agreement on the way forward.

Mr Kim Seung Kyu of the NMK added that their museum would continue to provide support staff for VCM until at least the end of 2018. Naver would also continue in their role until the year 2020. Dr Schoonderwoerd reasserted the importance of re-­integrating VCM into the ASEMUS platform given the need for long term financial solvency. There was general agreement around the room on this sentiment. ASEF representative Ms Anupama Sekhar agreed to work with the committee to ensure that there would be a smooth transition. She noted that the re-­integration could be performed in tandem with their own overhaul of the ASEMUS and ASEF web presence.

Discussion of the Mission Statement and Future of ASEMUS

Chairman presented the group with a draft version of the ASEMUS Mission Statement. There was broad agreement on the general outlines of the statement but several points were discussed. Dr Schoonderwoerd asked for clarification on the term “Eurasia” and suggested instead that “Asian collections” be substituted.

There was also a discussion on the composition of the Executive Committee (ExCo). The consensus was that there should be a balance between European and Asian representatives on the committee.

The committee also discussed the need for term limits. It was agreed that beginning with 2017 each ExCo term would last for 3 years. Terms would be renewable without limitation subject to mutual agreement of the member and the majority agreement of the committee.

New members could be nominated by an ExCo member and elected by majority vote. Membership in the ExCo would lapse if a member institution failed to send a representative to the annual meeting for three consecutive meetings.

Ms Sekhar affirmed that ASEF should be regarded as an ExCo member.

Chairman raised the issue of the future of ASEMUS and suggested that a revitalization of the organization was timely, a sentiment which the committee concurred with. Ms Sekhar also suggested that there was a need for a revised communication strategy going forward and put forward the possibility of ASEF taking a stronger coordinating role going forward.

In light of the number of years the Secretariat has rested with the ACM, and acknowledging the ExCo debt to the Vice-­Chair and Mr Henkel for their commitment, the Chairman raised the possibility of ASEF taking over the onerous Secretariat of the ExCo on a permanent basis, as expressed in the founding statement of the ExCo. A discussion took place where Ms Sekhar indicated that ASEF might take over the duties of the Secretariat, and could possibly take on an intern to assist with the support role required in the preparation and lead-­up to a GC. In response to the suggestion that ASEF might assist in funding someone who would be based in one of the Member museums, she indicated, however, that it would be difficult to fund someone outside of ASEF. It was noted that the Member museums might play a continuing role in relation to the vetting of new member applications.

A revised Mission Statement will be prepared for adoption at the next ExCo meeting in New Delhi.

General Conference

Chairman Croke raised the coming General Conference. It was suggested that  the conference in New Delhi take place the week of March 15 2017. Chairman Croke and Ms Sekhar agreed to travel to New Delhi to meet with the museum to plan the conference in November 2016.

UNESCO High Level Forum on Museums

Dr Yang of the Shanghai Museum gave a report to the committee on UNESCO’s inaugural High Level Forum on Museums, held in Shenzhen, China. He reported that the forum focussed on the role of the museum and the important role museum’s play in society. He also noted the strong emphasis given to ethical practices in the Museum world. He reported that the Shenzhen Declaration was adopted at the end of the Forum. This declaration underscored the social, cultural, educational and economic roles of museums in contemporary society. It also highlighted their contribution in educating citizens across the globe for a more peaceful world and in achieving sustainable development goals.


Ms Sekhar reported on the ASEMUS website.

Mr Takema presented the budget for the Virtual Collection of Asian Masterpieces (VCM). He reported that due to the loss of Mr Brinkman ongoing work had been put on hiatus which meant that no expenses had been incurred. He also reported that until ongoing plans to integrate VCM into ASEMUS are completed no funds needed to be earmarked. As of this report €45,154 remains in the Trustees’ fund.

Mr David Henkel of the ASEMUS Secretariat reported that there were 9 new members and that including affiliates, ASEMUS now had 150 members.


Chairman pointed out that as the VCM would be reabsorbed into ASEMUS and that there was almost complete overlap between the ASEMUS ExCo and the VCM Board of Trustees, she moved that the two bodies be merged. The committee concurred. She asked if Sarawak Museum, the only VCM Trustee not currently on the ASEMUS ExCo would agree to join and Mr Hans van de Bunte of Sarawak Museum concurred. Ms Croke then moved to nominate Sarawak Museum to the ASEMUS ExCo. She was seconded by Vice-­Chairman Mr Kennie Ting. The nomination was unanimously accepted.

Chairman suggested that an ExCo meeting be held in Europe in late 2017. The Weltmuseum in Vienna graciously agreed to host this meeting.

Chairman also suggested that the Sarawak Museum be considered for the next GC to be held in 2018. Mr van de Bunte voiced that their museum would be pleased to be the host.

Matters arising

Mr Jos Takema of the National Museum of World Cultures, Netherlands gave a presentation on the dissolution of the Nusantara Museum Collection. Due to severe economic constraints the city government was forced to dissolve the collection. Part of the collection was given to the NMWC and another part of the collection was accepted by the National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta. The remaining items of the collection were being offered freely to museums around the world for the cost of shipping and any processing fees that might be involved. Objects would be awarded on a first come first served basis with Dutch museums being given priority. Museums could select pieces from the collection on a website that would be made active in January of 2017.

Next meeting

It was agreed that the next Executive Committee meeting will be held at the National Museum New Delhi in 2017.


Minutes taken by David Henkel, (Secretariat, ASEMUS)

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