At one time in its history, the Zoology Collection of the Ghent University Museum had the skull of ‘Betsie’, a locally most famous elephant of the former Ghent Zoo (1851-1904). During this period many cadavers of animals were transferred to our collection for educational purposes. But when the Ghent Zoo presented the university with the cadaver of Betsie who died in the winter of 1887-1888, the university thought it to be too expensive to process. The zoo then decided to have only the skull cleaned for their own little museum. When the Zoo went bankrupt in 1904, the Zoology Collection bought the skull at the public sale of all the Zoo’s assets. This skull is of enormous cultural and historic value for the City of Ghent and its University. But sadly enough, not knowing what it was at the time, the skull was traded for other skull with a person called ‘Jan Cools’. When I became the curator of the Collection, and when I learned what the skull was, I tried to talk with Jan Cools who had already sold it to someone in England or even Canada, to ask him to get me the address. He promised to do so, but sadly enough he died two days later. So yet again, a dead end. 2017 is a triple anniversary: the Ghent university and the Zoology Collection are 200 years old, and I also this year I am a curator of this Collection for 20 years. It would be great to get Betsie back home for this anniversary. So now hear my appeal: please, please, help us find back the skull of the elephant Betsie, so we can bring her back home. If anyone recognizes parts of this story or the name Jan Cools, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org; also read the extended story here.
MUSEUM BOOT CAMP: Surviving and Thriving within a University
Jill Hartz, University of Oregon, USA
This workshop is directed to museum professionals (particularly higher education museum professionals).
Participants will be introduced to the importance of aligning the museum/collection’s mission with the university (parent institution) mission; to evaluate the museum/collection’s educational role within the university structure; to apply basic theoretical and methodological skills to the development of a strategic plan, policies, and procedures; and to obtain a working knowledge of mission-driven strategic planning and implementation.
Jill Hartz has served as executive director of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, Eugene, since August 2008. She was director of the University of Virginia Art Museum in Charlottesville from 1997 to 2008 and previously worked in various capacities at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University as well as in the publishing field. She has organized numerous exhibitions, primarily in the contemporary art field, and is the editor of five books, including Rick Bartow: Things We Know But Cannot Explain (co-edited with Danielle Knapp, 2015) and Hindsight-Fore-Site: Art for the New Millennium (University of Virginia Press, 2003). Knapp and Hartz co-curated the Bartow traveling exhibition of the same name. Ms. Hartz is currently president of the national Association of Academic Museums and Galleries and a reviewer for professional museum programs, including accreditation. She received her MA with Honors in English Language and Literature from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 1973 and pursued undergraduate studies at Oberlin College in Ohio.
The Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG), USA, has just released an important publication on Best Practices. It covers all major areas of university museum practice – from collections to fundraising and from governance to ethics – reuniting into a single source what is generally fragmented and dispersed. It has eight chapters and 10 appendices, multiple examples, links and legal references.
The ‘AAMG Professional Practices for Academic Museums and Galleries‘ is undoubtedly of broader interest to university museums and collections all over the world, making it an important resource for colleagues outside the USA.
There is a vacancy for a PhD position at the University Museum of Bergen, Department of Natural History within the field of mite systematics – acarology. The position is for a fixed-term period of 4 years, of which 25% is work duty in in the entomological collection.