ASEMUS Executive Meeting, 2003

The meeting discussed the relationship between ASEMUS and ASEF. There was also much discussion on the proposals submitted for Pilot projects that would be showcased at the wrap-up conference to be held at the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore in 2004. 

Minutes ASEMUS 5th Executive Committee Meeting

Shanghai, September 27-28th 2003

Participants: Brian Durrans (replacing John Mack), Chulamanee Chartsuwan, Chong Phil Choe, Corazon Alvina (vice-chair), Eva Gesang-Karlström, Steven Engelsman (chair), Stéphane Martin, Chen Xiejun and Karl Magnusson (secr.) Regrets: Juan I. Vidarte, Kenson Kwok and Uchida Hiroyasu. Marie Le Sourd (ASEF) and John Perkins (CIMI) were standbys during the meeting.


As interim Chair, Steven Engelsman suggested some changes in the agenda which was agreed.

 1. Previous meeting

Minutes from previous meeting in Singapore adopted.

 2. ExCom. issues

a) Due to internal changes at the British Museum, John Mack had asked to be replaced by Brian Durrans (keeper of the Asian ethnographic collections at BM) as member of ExCom. Agreed.

b) (Steven Engelsman and Corazon Alvina not present, Eva Gesang-Karlström chair)

 At the 4th ASEMUS ExCom meeting, Steven Engelsman was appointed interim chair of the group. Furthermore, ExCom adopted a guiding principle concerning the chairmanship that stipulates an alternate system with one Chair and one Vice-Chair. If the Chair comes from Asia, the Vice is to come from Europe and vice-versa. After consultations with other ExCom members, Eva Gesang-Karlström, made the following suggestion: Steven Engelsman Chair, Corazon Alvina Vice-chair for a period of two years, i.e. until October 1st 2005. Agreed.

 3. Relations between ASEMUS and ASEF (Steven Engelsman chair henceforth)

With the Singapore conference in March 2004, ASEMUS phase one comes to an end. Through generous financial and professional contributions from ASEF and participating museums, the first period has been a great success. A series of Asia-Europe meetings among museum professionals has resulted in highly creative and interesting pilot-project proposals under the umbrella of “sharing cultural heritage resources”. By necessity ASEMUS phase two will be more operational in character with a number of pilot-projects being realised if the necessary means are supplied. ASEF has a prerequisite to only support projects that are bi-regional (Asia-Europe) and multilateral (in reality 8-10 countries). This means that a actual minority of the pilot-projects emanating from ASEMUS phase one will qualify for funding from ASEF. Consequently, additional funding must be applied for from other sources. In addition ASEF in itself is under transition due to the enlargement of the European Union and reduced funding from major donors. Taken together, the situation highlights the future relationship between ASEMUS and ASEF.

There is a strong wish from ASEMUS ExCom to keep the close relationship with ASEF and the ASEM process. The focus of sharing cultural heritage resources between museums in Asia and Europe is exactly in focus of the political and social aim of bringing these two parts of the world closer together. In this process museums are crucial institutions due to their vital importance in creating, changing and sustaining national and other collective identities. ASEMUS phase one has shown that the links between an international organisation such as ASEF and the museums obviously creates an opportunity to develop activities that are different in character compared with traditional museum cooperation.

 4. ASEMUS wrap-up conference in Singapore 2004, March 4-6 2004.

The Singapore conference will be organised by the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) with the British Museum (tbc) and ASEF as co-organisers. The aim is to present pilot-project proposals for potential donors as well as for the colleagues within the network. The conference is crucial for refining the projects and showing their relation to the overall ASEMUS framework thus giving a clear picture of what ASEMUS phase 2 will be about. In addition, there will also be an ASEMUS ExCom meeting.

 The programme will be articulated around three days:

March 4th – internal presentation of the projects for ASEMUS partners. At maximum there will be eight proposals to be presented. Five from Antwerp meeting on ‘Scattered collections’ and ‘Lost Heritage’, one from Kuala Lumpur on conservation and two from Shanghai meeting on travelling exhibition and virtual exhibition.

March 5th – presentation for potential donors. It starts with a general presentation of

ASEMUS followed by very short presentations of each of the projects (5-10 minutes). During this presentation the prime focus of the project must be evident as well as it’s place within the overall ASEMUS process. John Perkins will send Karl power-point images to be used by all groups which in turn will be distributed to the project coordinators. After the short break with some snacks and mingle among people, the project-coordinators and the donors will have the opportunity to meet and present and discuss the content in detail.

March 6th – feedback and follow-ups including a plenary session on ASEMUS future development and organisational structure.

For a one year contract (starting 15 October 2003), ASEF has employed a full-time staff to support ASEMUS activities. Among other things this resource will help to investigate and make a list of local and international donors to invite to the conference.

Invitations shall be sent by mid-November. The conference organisers coordinates together with ASEMUS Secretariat.

 5. Discussion on submitted proposals for Pilot projects

As a consequence of the design for the Singapore conference, some general guidelines are important to pass on to the project coordinators (Karl will do this):

– There is no money available to realise the projects at the time for the Singapore conference

– The present position of ASEF is outlined above (bioregional & multilateral). In addition ASEF only sponsors 50% of the costs involved, the rest is to be supplied by the participants or other donors.

– All projects must define how the project fits in the ASEMUS rationale and how the process of developing a project within this framework adds value content-wise.

 Due to the fact that the timeframe for the Singapore conference is limited, there is necessary to make a selection on which projects that will have the opportunity to present themselves at the meeting. This selection was mainly done on an estimate of the different projects’ ability to qualify for future funding. All projects were judged as creative and interesting.

 a) To continue to arrange similar training courses for conservators as the one in Kuala Lumpur. The proposal will be presented in Singapore. The arrangement in Kuala Lumpur was a great success and the character is certainly bi-regional and multilateral. However the group must clearly show the importance of ASEMUS taking the lead in such activities which has already been successfully arranged by, for instance SPAFA and ICCROM.

b) The scattered heritage of the Island West of Java. The proposal will be presented in Singapore. Apart from general guidelines the group will be asked to elaborate on the social impact of the project and possibilities and threats made by increased tourism and developing local handicraft

c) The Hidden Base of Borobodur. Not at the moment presentable in Singapore. Will be asked to come back with a more elaborate and focused proposal in mid-January at latest. The group must coordinate with other similar projects in Indonesia. Will be informed of the possibilities to generate income through distributing images to ???

d) The Scattered heritage of the Peranakan culture. Not at the moment presentable in Singapore. Clearly a research project and needs to show the links between the research and the social impact in order to stress the significance e.g. multi-culturalism, social inclusion and exclusion, fusion.

e) Scattered Heritage of the Philippines. To be presented in Singapore if enlarged. The possibilities of bringing in Spanish institutions as well as other shall be investigated. The methodological aspect of using “local”, in this case Philippines, expertise to contribute to the knowledge on collections housed in Europe may be underlined.

f) Exchange program for education staffs. Will be presented in Singapore. Fits ASEF requirements although the time-frame at a first stage may be reduced. Will be asked to develop strategy for opening up for newcomers.

g) Travelling Exhibition on Portraiture. Will be presented in Singapore. Chinese expertise will be asked to contribute. Fits ASEF critera.

h) Virtual Exhibition on Masterpieces. Will be presented in Singapore.

 By Mid-January the final decision regarding the presentations will be taken. During the first day of the conference the ExCom members must assist the projects to tune in ASEMUS overall framework in the presentations.

 6. ASEMUS website

The National Museums of World Culture, Sweden will develop a project proposal on the future of to be sent to ASEF.

 7. Evaluation of ASEMUS phase one

ExCom members are asked to read and give comments to the Secretariat.

8. Formalising ASEMUS

Although the step to register ASEMUS as a legal entity is premature at the moment, some kind of decision regarding the relations and appointments between ExCom Secretariate and all partners within the network must be taken in Singapore. Steven Engelsman has the lead and consults with Michael Ryan.

9. Hanoi Action-plan

Due to changing circumstances the prime aim of the plan is at present not to launch VUSEUM-ASEMUS, but to define and secure the future relationship between ASEMUS and the ASEM (ASEF) process. Steven Engelsman and Stephané Martin will meet the Executive Director of ASEF, Delfin Colomé and report back to ExCom.

10. ICOM-Conference Seoul

Chong-Pil Choe informed that he has managed to reserve one full day for ASEMUS at the meeting in October next year. This creates a great opportunity for ASEMUS to report back to the international museum community of the activities and results of phase one.

11. Next meeting

Next meeting to take place in Singapore on Wednesday, March 3rd and on Sunday March 7th 2004.

 Karl Magnusson

Secretary of ASEMUS

Gothenburg 2003-10-09

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