ASEMUS Executive Meeting, 2007

 At this meeting, ASEF presented to the Executive Committee meeting on their views on the work and development of ASEMUS.

Minutes below:

Minutes ASEMUS 9th Executive Committee Meeting

Paris, France, January 12th, 2007

Participants: Brian Durrans (representing British Museum), Chong Phil Choe, Claudius Müller, Corazon Alvina (Chair), Eva Gesang-Karlström, Jean Anes, Katelijn Verstraete, Kenson Kwok, Steven Engelsman, Stéphane Martin (Vice-chair), Karl Magnusson (Secretariate). Special Invitees: Manus Brinkman (VCM project), Bertrand Fort (Deputy Executive Director, ASEF)

Regrets: Chen Xiejun, representative of Japan .

1. Opening of the meeting, approval of the agenda, welcome of new members

The new ASEF team was introduced: Mr. Jean Anes, Director for Cultural Exchange, and Ms Katelijn Verstraete who is in charge of the ASEMUS program. In addition Claudius Müller, Director of the Museum of Ethnology, München, Germany was welcomed to his first Excom meeting.

With the move of item 4 to be discussed as item 7, the agenda was approved.

2. Previous meeting

Minutes from previous meeting (Cordilleras, Philippines) adopted.

3. ASEF’s view on the development of ASEMUS

Before the meeting ASEF distributed a written evaluation of ASEMUS including some advises for the future direction of the network to the Executive committee. The general conclusion is that ASEMUS is a “long term process oriented project network run effectively and relevant to the ASEM principles. It has good visibility and has the potential to create long term impact”.

The main challenges for the realisation of projects are resources (financial and human) and structure i.e. coordination and management within some projects as well as a lack of using the possibilities for synergies among the different projects. ASEF wants to stress the importance that ASEMUS responds to the new developments of the ASEM process, mainly by reaching out to institutions in “new” member countries. For the moment ASEM consists of the:

27 EU–countries and the European commission

10 ASEAN countries, the ASEAN office and China, Japan and Korea

India, Mongolia and Pakistan (still to appoint their Governors)

Furthermore, ASEF wants more detailed and regular updates of the total financial commitments of all different partners in the projects. This includes contributions in kind such as working hours made by permanent staff and use of equipment. ASEF will provide the different project partners with a frame to make reporting easier. ASEF proposes two main directions for its future support of ASEMUS;

a) Network related activities including continued support to the website, support for a new general conference to gather potential new members and help to new members to work in a network like ASEMUS.

b) Project related activities such as support to the last phase of implementation of the VCM-project for the official launch, give exposure to development of the Travelling Exhibition and Museum Education Exchange and to identify external donors.

Given the mutual importance of ASEF to ASEMUS and of ASEMUS to ASEF some proposals along these lines will be made to the ASEF Board. In order to emphasise the relevance of ASEMUS, it was proposed that the network be present at the ASEM Ministers of Culture’s meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 16-17 2007. ASEF will come back with information regarding the format of the meeting in February when the details have been set. Then the Excom Chair, Corazon Alvina, will contact the Malaysian Minister of Culture, asking for possibilities for ASEMUS to give a presentation of its structure and activities at the meeting.

4. Status and prospects of the three major ASEMUS projects

 The Virtual Collection of Masterpieces

The project is coordinated by the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, the Netherlands and the Gyeonggi Museum, Gyeonggi, Korea. A first soft-launch of the website took place in Paris on January 11th. Around 600 Masterpieces from about 40 museums in Asia and Europe are at the moment available on the site. The audience at the launch was very enthusiastic and the prospects for possible sponsorship of the project seemed promising. This will be further investigated by staff at Musee de Quai Branly.

Thanks to a generous offer made by the Gyeonggi Museum, the Grand Launch of the VCM will take place in Korea on September 13th 2007 (see below). To make that event as successful as possible, several things need to be done: e.g. complete redesign of the website interface and to make information of all participating institutions available. Steven Engelsman will contact the Gyeonggi Museum and come back to Excom with planning details on the launch as soon as possible.

On May 1st Jos Taekama from the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden will replace John Perkins as project leader of the VCM.

The Travelling Exhibition

The project is coordinated by the British Museum in London and the Museum of Ethnology in Osaka. The coordinators are at present trying to confirm the different venues for the exhibition and there is an estimate that it will be shown for six to eight weeks at each venue. It seems now as the opening of the exhibition will take place in Osaka in September 2008. Since there have been some problems to confirm Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur as venues, Singapore was mentioned as a very good alternative in Asia. Kenson Kwok and Brian Durrans will investigate this.

In order to reduce the costs of the exhibition the aim is to reduce the number of objects that will travel. For art works the possibility of using very high definition digital images is at present investigated. This may also open up for possible sponsorship as will the possibility of showing the exhibition in Brunei Darussalam. The general strategy of finding sponsors is to try to raise them locally at each venue and a very rough estimate is that about 100.000 Euro is needed at each place.

In order to create a digital room for the practical cooperation among the project partners, the platform used by VCM may be possible. Steven Engelsman will check this and contact the project coordinators.

Museum outreach and public activities

The Silpakorn University in Thailand and the Chester Beatty Library in Ireland coordinates the project. At present four partnerships is confirmed.

National Museum in Liverpool (Mercyside) and the Ho Chi Minh Museum

The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin and the Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur

Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore and Museum of Far-Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm

Musee Quai Branly in Paris and the National Museum in Manila.

In addition Pen Pan Jarernporn of the Sipakorn University investigates the prospects of linking two open-air archaeological site museums in Italy and Thailand together.

Each partnership will submit a written report after completion. This is to be sent to the coordinators of the project who will put together a general report. The Excom is surprised that just five partnerships out of possible nine are used. Not at least taking into account the fact that the program has called for proposals at two times. In order to be able to investigate the best way to proceed, a financial report of the present state of affairs is needed. The ASEMUS secretariat will ask the project coordinators for this.

5. Status and prospects of other ASEMUS projects


The project proceeds with support from participating institutions. The original partners in Indonesia and the Netherlands have now also linked up with the Silpakorn University in Thailand. The prospect of an exhibition at the Royal Tropenmuseum in the Netherlands is at present investigated.


The ACM in Singapore plans to open a Peranakan museum in the old premises on Armenian Street in 2007. Research and preparation works are carried out in Indonesia, Singapore and the Netherlands.

 Unearthing Philippines Past

Several European museums have presented inventories of their collections to the curators at the National Museum in Manila. In December 2005 the Pangulo exhibition worked as a small

version of the bigger plans that is embedded in the project. The National Museum in Manila will continue to coordinate and develop the project further.

 Exchange of Conservation techniques

Although no funding has been given to the conservation ideas of ASEMUS as presented at Museum Hopping 2004, the ideas and partnerships are taken further by mainly two programs, i.e. the CollAsia 2010 managed by ICCROM and the MuSEA cooperation coordinated by the Swedish Museums of World Culture. Thus the development around the exchange of conservation techniques is a good example of how ASEMUS has strengthened and functioned as a catalyst for cooperation between Asian and European institutions also “outside” the immediate network.

6. ASEMUS website

The site is developed continuously by the Secretariat. Still there have been some problems with the tracking device that counts number of hits, duration etc. During 2006 it seems like the site had around 1000 visits per month. 75% of those were “new” visitors, and the rest consequently were “returning” visitors. This indicates that the site has a fairly interesting material, but that the updates and changes are to slow. Thus we have to find incentives for visitors to come back. One way will be to ask for more regular updates on the projects, another to provide more information of the participating museums. Further discussions around this will take place between the Secretariat and the ASEF office in conjunction with the renewal of the present contract that is due on June 30th 2007.

In order to facilitate the communication within the network, not at least with new members, a digital newsletter has been developed by the Secretariat. This will be distributed to the network one or two times per year.

7. Executive committee issues

The position of a Japanese representative in the Executive committee is still vacant. The Chair Corazon Alvina has contacted the Japanese Governor of ASEF in this matter. ASEF will assist in the efforts.

During this period of service the ExCom will develop a structural scheme for when and how new members are to be appointed. We need to find an appropriate and efficient model for nominations and elections. The meeting wanted to emphasise that membership in the Excom is institutional and open to all ASEMUS partners. Corazon Alvina and Karl Magnusson will develop a proposal to be discussed at next Excom meeting (see below)

Future ExCom meetings will as long as possible be organised in conjunction with other ASEMUS activities. At those occasions this is not the case each member will basically cover their own expenses.

8. Future activities of ASEMUS

During 2007 three major activities will take place for the network as such:

a) Some kind of presentation in Kuala Lumpur in late June at the meeting for the ASEM Ministers of Culture. ASEF will check and come back to the Excom on the design of the program. Corazon Alvina will then check the possibilities of an ASEMUS presence at the meeting.

b) An ASEMUS presentation at the ICOM General conference in Vienna, August 19th-24th. As before we will try to have a session under the umbrella of ICOM/ASPAC. Corazon Alvina will investigate this. The presentation will include a general overview of the activities since Seoul three years age and a specific ditto of the VCM project.

c) The Grand Launch of the VCM project at Gyeonggi museum in Korea 13th of September. In conjunction with this event we will try to organise a larger ASEMUS meeting in order to invite potential new members. Steven Engelsman will investigate the possible set-up including funding with the hosts and come back to the Excom as soon as possible. The coordinators of VCM and ASEF will contribute with a list of potential invitees to the meeting.

9. Next meeting of ExCom

Next meeting of ASEMUS ExCom will take place in conjunction with the VCM launch in September. Preferably as late as possible in the week proposed.

Karl Magnusson

Secretary of ASEMUS

Gothenburg 2007-01-17


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