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  • 30October

    Buddhas and Bodhisattvas from 8 nations

    The exhibition is a special event to mark the 10th anniversary of the museum’s relocation to its current site. The museum used its international connections to bring about 210 Buddhist sculptures from 26 institutions in eight countries.

    More info : Buddhas and Bodhisattvas from 8 nations
  • 13October

    Burmese Artifacts Added to the Memory of the World Register

    Burma is proud to have had two more artifacts included in the UN-established Memory of the World Register for 2015, Kyaw Oo Lwin, director general of the Ministry of Culture’s archeology department, told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

    The Myazedi Inscription and the Golden Parchment of King Alaungpaya were added to the register at the 12th meeting of the International Advisory Committee of the Memory of the World Register Program, which took place Oct. 4-6 in Abu Dhabi.

    More info : Burmese Artifacts Added to the Memory of the World Register
  • 30September

    New Yorker Calls 'Philippine Gold' Fantastic

    The positive reviews for Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms, Asia Society's dazzling new exhibition, continue in this week's New Yorker, where a profile in the magazine's "Talk of the Town" section praised it as "fantastic." The review comes one week after The New York Times referred to the exhibition as "gorgeous" and "historically intriguing." Philippine Gold reveals the East Asian archipelago's rich tradition in golden objects, spanning an era that predates the arrival of European colonialism. From The New Yorker: "The early Philippine people, or at least those at society’s upper echelons, remained opulent all the way to the grave, judging by several gold funerary masks, including one whose top edge is cunningly slit and perforated into an improvised crown."

    Philippine Gold will be on display at Asia Society's New York museum through January 3, 2016. 

    More info : New Yorker Calls 'Philippine Gold' Fantastic
  • 14September

    The fight to save Kolkata's heritage homes

    Kolkata's historic homes reflect a rich architectural heritage - where European styles are blended with mix of colonial and Indian influences. But they are now under threat. Along with airy verandas edged with ornamental pillars, there were courtyards on the first and ground floors, and ledges, grilles and awnings which kept the glare of the sun and the rain away. There are plenty of spots for repose, or adda - the free flow of political ideas. Many who inherited these homes are tempted to sell their land to property sharks who promise free flats to them as bonuses. Sadly, the sale of an old property to a land developer means its immediate demolition, and scores of homes in Kolkata are being demolished each week to be replaced by dull cookie-cutter builders' flats.

    More info : The fight to save Kolkata's heritage homes
  • 07September

    2015 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards Winners Announced

    The Conservation of the Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple in Kerala, India has received the Award of Excellence in this year’s UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang won the Award of Merit and became the first project in Lao PDR to receive the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award.

    More info : 2015 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards Winners
  • 02September

    Japanese heritage group plans to return cultural assets to Afghanistan

    A Japanese organisation protecting cultural assets that were taken illegally from Afghanistan and imported to this nation has said it will return all its holdings, as the situation in Afghanistan is now sufficiently stable for their return.

    Chaired by Ryohei Miyata, president of the Tokyo University of Fine Arts, the Japan Committee for the Protection of Displaced Cultural Property announced at a press conference on Aug. 5 that it will return 102 cultural assets.

    The committee was established in June 2001 at the initiative of Ikuo Hirayama, a prominent Japanese-style painter who passed away in 2009.

    Working under a UNESCO mandate, it has received from owners and other persons cultural assets that were illegally removed from archaeological sites and museums in Afghanistan during times of conflict and eventually reached Japan through the black market.

    The assets have been stored in the Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum in Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture, on the premise that the museum would keep them until the turmoil in Afghanistan had settled down and the environment for their return had improved.

    The items include the "Left foot of Zeus," a fragment of a larger statue, and a piece of a mural removed from the Bamiyan Caves. The "Left foot" fragment measures 28.5 centimeters in length, despite only depicting the front part of a foot.

    The 102 heritage pieces will be returned to Afghanistan after 15 are displayed next year at special exhibitions at the Kyushu National Museum in Fukuoka Prefecture and the Tokyo National Museum in Tokyo.

    "We have determined that Afghanistan can responsibly preserve and exhibit the cultural properties," Noboru Noguchi, a member of the committee and the director general of the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan, said at the Aug. 5 press conference.

    More info : Japanese heritage group plans to return cultural assets to Afghanistan
  • 04August

    Opulent And Apolitical: The Art Of The Met's Islamic Galleries

    "Opulent And Apolitical: The Art Of The Met's Islamic Galleries"

    This is an introduction to NPR's Muslim Artists, Now series, which will highlight contemporary Muslim musicians, writers, painters and filmmakers, among others.

    When the Islamic galleries of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art reopened in 2011 (after eight years of renovation), it was heralded as a landmark moment for deepening American understanding of the Islamic world. Amid live performances and lectures, the museum's 15 new galleries brought audiences into a physical world of lavish carpets, ceramics and miniature paintings.

    Since the Met's Islamic revival, the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London have also invested in glittering new galleries for Islamic art. And this year alone in the United States, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Baltimore's Walters Art Museum and the Dallas Museum of Art each has an exhibition dedicated to the genre.

    Sheila Canby, the curator in charge of the Met's Department of Islamic Art, acknowledges that showcasing the galleries' objects provides an alternative to the predominant political narrative. She says, "After things like Sept. 11, after things like the destruction of ancient sites in northern Iraq and Syria, museums serve as a place where people can come to this idea of Islam through the material culture, not just through what they're being told all the time."

    The Met's new galleries include examples of eye-catching calligraphy, like this page from the Quran that was written on indigo-dyed parchment in gold and silver, and originated in Tunisia around the 9th to mid-10th century. But at a time when the meaning of Islam is so fraught and the debate over Muslim values is so charged, what exactly constitutes Islamic art? Is it a religious definition, an ethnic category or a political statement?...

    ...That evolution in the study of Islamic art mirrors cultural shifts in today's Muslim societies. The kingdoms that gave rise to the workshops and artisans whose work fills the Met's galleries no longer exist, and today those regions have new borders, new crises and new economic realities.

    For Met curator Navina Haidar, the central vision in reopening the museum's galleries was to highlight these objects as the world's heritage. She says the fundamental question is whether you see it "as the heritage of the Islamic world or do you think about it as the Islamic heritage of the world. You see, there's a difference there."...

    ...according to Haidar, the role of the Met and of Islamic art historians is to be dispassionate and apolitical. "We show things on the basis of their artistic merit, their rarity, their condition and their historical importance," she says. "So we don't censor the evidence. We don't promote the evidence. We try to be strictly dispassionate about the evidence. The only place where we allow ourselves any passion is in the artistic joy and excitement of something that's beautiful and elevating and technically accomplished. But we don't get ideological about it."


    Still, as you leave the Met's opulent galleries and return to the real world, it's striking that the formal idea of Islamic art ends in the 19th century. What's happened to Muslim creativity since the collapse of these kingdoms, since industrialization, since globalization and since our current debates around radicalization? Those are questions that contemporary artists have taken up — artists Haidar has the utmost respect for.

    "Most contemporary artists are very brave people," she says, "because they actually are willing to take on these issues and not let their expression be suppressed. ... And if their voices were to be extinguished — the voice of the writer, the voice of the artist, the voice of the poet, and then the evidence of history — that would be a truly terrible, dark world that would descend upon all of us."

    More info : See the complete article
  • 20July

    Remembering Manus Brinkman

    We have learned with great sadness about the passing of our dear friend, Content-Editor of the Virtual Collections of Masterpieces (VCM), Mr. Manus Brinkman, on Saturday, 4 July 2015 in Chiangmai, Thailand.

    The following personal message from Manus to his beloved partner has been shared to Manus’ family members, friends and former colleagues all around the world, and I truly believe it is relevant for all of us who are still living:

    the most important understanding in my life is the meaning behind the song title: “You don’t miss your water ‘till your well runs dry”’. Realise what you have, do things you want to do, cherish it all and don’t take anything for granted.’

    He started his career at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam as an educational staff before taking on the role of Director at the Children Museum Tropen Junior. After a decade of working with the Tropen Museum, he was elected as Director for the Dutch Museum Association in Amsterdam for 8 years. Later, 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), one of the most successful projects initiated by the Asia-Europe Museum Network (ASEMUS). Manus had been involved in ASEMUS since its inception and had always been a great supporter to the network ever since.

    We are honoured to have met and worked with Manus. It has been a privilege to hear about his knowledge and witness his passion.  It has also been a great pleasure to have shared our thoughts and laughter. Manus was and will always be a wonderful inspiration for us and we will miss him dearly.




    More info : Asia-Europe Museum Network
  • 10June

    National Museum, New Delhi

    The National Museum in New Delhi recently joined the VCM as the 134th partner. It is our second partner from India.

    As the premier museum of India, the National Museum in New Delhi contributed finest digital information of 25 valuable masterpieces among their collection to the VCM project. As can be glimpsed through these masterpieces, it houses an impressive collection of artefacts from across the country and the world.

    Today, National Museum has over 2,10,000 art objects representing 5,000 years of Indian art and craftsmanship. The collection includes sculptures in stone, bronze, terracotta and wood, a large collection of miniature paintings and manuscripts, coins, arms and armour, jewellery, textile, costumes and anthropological objects. Antiquities from Central Asia and Pre-Columbian artefacts form the two non- Indian collections in the Museum.

    Visit National Museum in New Delhi's page and find out more about their masterpieces!

    More info : VCM: National Museum, New Delhi
  • 05June

    National Museum of Afghanistan

    With UNESCO Office in Afghanistan’s assistance, the National Museum of Afghanistan successfully joined the Virtual Collection of Asian Masterpieces, as the project’s 133rd partner museum as of June, 2015. The museum carefully selected 14 masterpieces among its vast collection, and made public their digital information through the VCM’s platform, both in English and in Dari language.

    The main purpose of the VCM embracing the National Museum of Afghanistan is to help them protect their own cultural heritage from any unfortunate destruction and illicit trafficking, by opening up and releasing the collection’s information which the museum had originally been keeping to itself. The VCM believes that this will generate more public awareness about endangered artefacts and that it could lead to less physical harm inflicted upon them.

    “A Nation Stays Alive When Its Culture Stays Alive”: A famous slogan hung up on the National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul.

    As a center of the ancient Silk Road, where people around the world gathered together to exchange goods, cultures, and fresh ideas, Afghanistan still is alive as a cultural repository, with much historical evidence of humanity. Visit VCM page for the National Museum of Afghanistan and learn more about the heritage of Afghanistan that was hidden behind guns and fires.

    More info : VCM: National Museum of Afghanistan
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