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ASEMUS Executive Committee Meets in Singapore

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The annual meetings of the ASEMUS Executive Committee and the Trustees of the Virtual Collection of Asian Masterpieces (VCM) were held at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore on the 19th and 20th of November, 2015. In a series of meetings the committee reviewed the activities of the past year and discussed future plans including the upcoming ASEMUS General Conference to be held in New Delhi in 2016. ASEMUS Chairman, Ms Fionnuala Croke of the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, and Dr Vijay Kumar Mathur of the National Museum of India in New Delhi confirmed the dates of the next General Conference as the 24th to the 26th of November, 2016. Particulars of the program were discussed and now being refined, so expect more details soon.

The Executive Committee was pleased to hear of the successful outcomes of several collaborations under the Educational Exchange and Outreach Programme [2]. Joint Programme Coordinator Karen Chin, of the Singapore National Heritage Board’s Education and Community Outreach department, who steers the programme along with Jenny Siung of the Chester Beatty Library, reported on four collaborations that occurred in 2014 and 2015. Collaborating museums included pairings between the Museum of Ethnology in Vietnam and the Helina Rautavaara Museum in Finland [3], the GRASSI Museum in Germany and the National Folk Museum in South Korea [4], the Latvian National Museum of Art and the Shanghai Museum in China [5], as well as the National Museum of the Philippines and the National History Museum, London [6]. These exchanges enabled museum educators to share ideas and best practices on museum education but, more importantly, the Executive Committee has every reason to expect that these exchanges are just the start of lasting collaborations between the participating institutions.

Jos Takema, Project Manager of the National Museum of World Cultures in the Netherlands gave a report to the committee on the continued growth of the Virtual Collection of Asian Masterpieces (VCM) [7]. Jointly led by Mr Takema and Ms Yun Hye Chung of the National Museum of Korea, the VCM grew by 5 new members to 135 museums from 35 countries and added 183 new masterpieces. This increased the number of artworks featured on the VCM website to 2514. While saddened by the unexpected passing of long-time Editor Manus Brinkman [8], the VCM forged ahead with new social media initiatives on Facebook [9], and Instagram. After Mr Takema’s report the Trustees acknowledged the significant and generous support of both the National Museum Korea and the National Museum of World Cultures in maintaining the VCM website.

Anupama Sekhar and Valentina Riccardi from the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) reported to the committee that the ASEMUS website continues to grow briskly, receiving 58,406 unique visitors between September 2014 and September 2015, and a 28.7% increase in the first nine months of this year. They further reported on ASEF’s continued support and synergies with ASEMUS in the past year, in particular their generous financial grant of the ASEF Creative Networks programme in support of the Curating Batik [10] collaboration between curators at the Weltmuseum Wien in Austria, the Museum Tekstil in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures in the Czech Republic and the Museum der Kulturen Basel in Switzerland. A workshop, organised at the Museum Tekstil Jakarta [11] in Indonesia on 3 June 2015, was a great success and was attended by more than 50 batik experts and batik lovers from all over Europe and Asia.

Also, the ASEMUS Secretariat was able to report that 23 new members [12] had joined in the past year bringing the total number of members to 141. The Secretariat encourages all our members to take full advantage and enjoy all the valuable web resources available, including the ASEMUS [13] and VCM [7] websites and ASEF culture360 [14]. Also, do please like and share all our Facebook [15]pages and follow our Instagram and Twitter feeds.

Finally, while much was accomplished in the meetings, it wasn’t all work and no play for the committee. They also had a chance to explore the Asian Civilisations Museum’s brand new Hong Leong Wing and Kwek Hong Png Galleries [16], which officially opened on the 12th of December this year. The galleries contain displays of Chinese Scholar’s studio material, contemporary art commissions and the ACM’s collection of Tang shipwreck materials from the famous Belitung cargo. The committee were also given a special sneak preview of Singapore’s magnificent new National Gallery [17], a new ASEMUS member, which opened its doors to the public on the 24th of November.

Photo caption above: From left to right – Mr Kim Jongsok, National Museum of Korea; Mr David Henkel, Asian Civilisations Museum; Ms Valentina Riccardi, Asia-Europe Foundation; Dr Steven Engelsman, Weltmuseum Wien; Ms Laura Muldowney, Chester Beatty Library; Ms Anupama Sekhar, Asia-Europe Foundation; Dr Fionnuala Croke, ASEMUS Vice Chairman, Chester Beatty Library; Dr Stijn Schoonderwoerd, National Museum of World Cultures, Netherlands; Dr Kim Youngna, National Museum of Korea; Dr Alan Chong, ASEMUS Vice Chairman, Asian Civilisations Museum; Dr Jos Takema, National Museum of World Cultures, Netherlands; Dr Vijay Kumar Mathur, National Museum of India; Ms Zhou Yanqun, Shanghai Museum; Ms Yun Hye Chung, National Museum of Korea; Mr Michael Lee, Varldskulturmuseema, Sweden.

For additional information about the ASEMUS Executive Committee and its members, please visit http://asemus.museum/about-us/ [18]