ASEMUS Executive Committee Meeting, Vienna, 2014


The 18th Meeting of the ASEMUS Executive Committee was held at Weltmuseum Wien, Vienna, Austria, on 25 September 2014, in the framework of Exploring Borders, the 6th ASEMUS General Conference. The Executive Committee discussed ongoing and future projects and other network matters. Minutes of the meeting follow.


18th ASEMUS Executive Committee meeting


25 September 2014, Weltmuseum Wien, Vienna, Austria



1. Kim Youngna, Director-General, National Museum of Korea, Seoul (Chair)

2. Fionnuala Croke, Director, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (Vice-Chair)

3. Stijn Schoonderwoerd, Director, National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden

4. Sanne Houby-Nielsen, Director, National Museums of World Culture, Sweden

5. Steven Engelsman, Director, Weltmuseum Wien, Austria

6. Christine Stelzig, Director, National Museum of Ethnology,

7. Toshio Yamanashi, Director-General – for Akiko Mabuchi, President, National Museum of Art, Japan

8. Marie Escot, Head of International Affairs – for Stephane Martin, President, Musée du quai Branly

9. Zhou Yanqun, Chief of Cultural Exchange Office – for Chen Xiejun, Director, Shanghai Museum, Peoples’ Republic of China

10. Ana Maria Labrador, Assistant Director – for Jeremy Barns, Director, National Museum of the Philippines

11. Jani Kuhnt-Saptodewo, Head of East Asian Collection, Weltmuseum Wien, Austria

12. Kim Jongsok, Curator, International Relations and PR Division, National Museum of Korea, Seoul

13. Jenny Siung, Head of Education, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin

14. Anupama Sekhar, Director, Culture Department, Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)

15. Valentina Riccardi, Project Manager, Culture Department, Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)

16. David Henkel, Curator (Secretariat, ASEMUS) – for Alan Chong, Director, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

Absent with apologies:

Michael Willis, Curator, Asia Department, British Museum




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


2. Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting 2013 minutes were circulated and taken as read.


3. Introduction

Dr Kim Youngna thanked Dr Stephen Englesman and the Weltmuseum, Wien for hosting the meeting and thanked all the members present for participating in the General Conference.

Dr Kim also thanked ASEMUS for the honour of serving as Chair as her term of service concludes with this GC. She noted that a key item in the agenda was the election of a new Chair and Vice Chair (The selection of Fionnuala Croke as new ExCo Chair and Dr Alan Chong as Vice Chair was ratified at the General Conference).


4. Project reports


  • Museum Education Exchange Project

Jenny Siung reported that this project which started in 2005/6 continues to be fruitful. It is presently managed by the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore (ACM) and the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (CBL). To date a total of 81 European and Asian museums have been contacted by these two institutions, and the call-out for participating institutions was aided by the mailing list of some 2,000 addressees compiled by the editor of the ASEMUS website.

Ms Siung made special note of the fact that the success of earlier programs was leading to more participation.  This year two exchanges involving four member museums transpired; one between the Korea National Folk Art Museum and the Grassi Museum in Germany, and another between the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and the Helinä Rautavaara Museum of Cultures/National Cultures, Finland.

Ms Siung’s update conveyed some of the lessons learnt in the execution of the project.  She asserted that many museums, including lesser known ones were interested and willing to learn from each other.  She asked the ExCo to look for museums to contribute funds for the continuation of the program and suggested the ExCo could consider applying (via the Secretariat) to the ASEF Creative Encounters Network programme. The ExCo were in agreement with this.

Ms Riccardi asked about what difficulties were encountered in the application process.  Ms Siung replied that the main difficulty was in pairing museums.

On discussion with the ASEMUS Exchange Team prior to the Exco meeting, Ms Siung expressed the need for new Learning Partners to manage the project should ASEMUS wish to continue this collaboration.  CBL & NHB have been managing the project since 2006 and she suggested it may be time for fresh leadership.


  • Virtual Collection of Asian Masterpieces (VCM)

Manus Brinkman[1] reported on changing trends within the VCM project.  He noted especially more non-United States visitors to the site and that individual visits were lasting longer. He noted also the positive development of the joining of the Bombay Museum as this would mean more South Asian objects on VCM. He also noted that NMK would be meeting with software developers at Chungkang College of Cultural Industries in Korea to explore the possibility of developing games for VCM.  Mr Brinkman said that efforts were being made to create a greater presence on Facebook.  He then highlighted efforts to provide more content for the National Museum of Afghanistan as a form of solidarity with the museum, which has endured more than 30 years of warfare and civil strife.

Mr Brinkman stressed that the value of VCM was that it provided opportunities for networking between Asian museums, particularly for those that are not well funded or that have other difficulties.  He admitted that currently VCM was not very well thought through but felt that it was trending in the direction of facilitating these connections.

On the subject of funding Mr Brinkman complimented the independence of VCM but noted that obtaining funding was a concern. He questioned whether the existing budget was sufficient or not. He hoped that VCM could achieve financial stability by 2016 or if not then the trustees should have the courage to bring the project to a satisfactory end state.  He suggested steps, including lowering the required funding to encourage additional trustees to join the project and encouraged current trustees to recruit more trustees from both the ASEMUS ExCo and the European Union (EU).  He also called for more Asian trustees.  He noted that the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden could no longer serve as the European lead partner. Mr Brinkman summed up by emphasizing the dependence of VCM on ASEMUS but asserted that it was also good to have a certain amount of independence.

Dr Kim announced that the Sarawak Museum was keen to join VCM as a trustee. Ms Croke further suggested that all of the ExCo members join as trustees as well emphasizing that VCM was originated by ASEMUS and that ASEMUS members should take responsibility for it. Dr Englesman suggested that a small contribution of €100 by all members might be better than raising a large sum from the trustees, noting that for example his own museum did not have such a large sum to contribute as currently required.  Dr Schoonderwoerd opined that current trustees were also strapped for funds.  He suggested though that smaller museums could contribute less while larger museums could be asked to give more. Ms Croke pointed out that ideally there should be more trustees so that the individual contribution could be reduced. Mr Yamanashi asked about the budget for VCM and noted that he might be able to secure some funds from Japan.  Dr Kim then requested that Mr Yamanashi help to encourage greater participation from Japanese museums and to recruit the National Museum to join VCM.  Ms Labrador volunteered to try and raise funds for the National Museum of the Philippines to join.


5. ASEF Matters


  • Creative Networks Fund

Ms Anupama Sekhar spoke about the ASEF Creative Networks Fund.  She explained that ASEF Creative Networks supports collaborative projects that encourage and build cultural/artistic networks between Asia and Europe. She encouraged ASEMUS to apply for these funds as going forward ASEM prefers to put funding into projects as this would help to maintain momentum within the network.


  • ASEMUS Website

Ms Valentina Riccardi reported on the ASEMUS website. ASEF supports the communication and promotion of the Network on the ASEMUS website ( hosted on ASEF culture360 platform since 2011, in close coordination with the ASEMUS Secretariat and the ASEMUS web editor. Sixteen (16) new museums have joined the Network since the beginning of the year, bringing the members to a total of 107 members as of September 2014. Regular updates with news, interviews and videos have been featured on the ASEMUS website and social media channels. Three (3) newsletters of the ASEMUS website circulated to over 2,000 recipients. There are 33,021 unique visitors to the site (Jan-October 2014) and an increase of 47% between December 2013 and September 2014.

There were live updates and blogging about the Conference on ASEMUS social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) by the ASEMUS Editor and ASEF culture360 Social Media Expert;

Ms Riccardi also encouraged ExCo members to connect with website editor Mr Jordi Baltà as he would be working to further develop ASEMUS’s web presence and promote the network.


6. Housekeeping Matters

Dr Kim introduced Dr Venu Vasudevan, Director General of the National Museum of India, New Delhi to the ExCo. Dr Venu expressed gratitude for being invited to join the ExCo and said he would do his best to recruit additional Indian museums to the network.  He also agreed to explore the possibility to host the next ASEMUS General Conference at his museum in 2016 or early 2017.

Dr Kim announced that Heidi Tan had left the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) and would no longer serve as the contact point of the ASEMUS Secretariat.  She would be replaced by ACM Curator David Henkel.

Dr Kim also raised the issue of inactive ExCo members and suggested that they be contacted and asked if they wished to continue to remain on the ExCo.


7. Next Meeting

It was agreed that the next Executive Committee meeting would be held at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore in 2015.



Minutes taken by David Henkel, Curator (Secretariat, ASEMUS)


[1] Manus Brinkman passed away on 4th July 2015 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Between 1998 and 2004, Manus took on a position of Secretary General of the prestigious International Council of Museums (ICOM) in Paris. Manus moved to Chiangmai and was based there for the past ten years working as Content-Editor of the Virtual Collections of Masterpieces (VCM).


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