Abstracts: Saturday, 3 March 2018


Session 4A: Dangerous objects: practical health and safety issues in Finnish



Curator Henna Sinisalo

Helsinki University Museum


Lääketieteellisten museokokoelmien terveysriskit ja niiltä suojautuminen


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


Menneillä vuosikymmenillä ja vuosisadoilla esineitä on usein valmistettu materiaaleista, jotka sittemmin on todettu terveydelle vahingollisiksi. Koska museokokoelmien parissa työskentelevät henkilöt ovat jatkuvasti kosketuksissa myrkyllisten, epäterveellisten tai muulla tavalla vaarallisten materiaalien ja esineiden kanssa, on työturvallisuuteen panostaminen erittäin tärkeää.


Helsingin yliopistomuseon näyttelytilat sekä kaksi keskeisintä säilytystilaa muuttivat 2014–2015 uusiin tiloihin. Kymmenien tuhansien objektien pakkaaminen ja muuttaminen edellyttivät potentiaalisten riskien kartoitusta ja työturvallisuuskäytänteiden uudistamista.


Lääketieteellisiin ja terveydenhuollon kokoelmiin liittyy paljon riskejä, sillä niihin sisältyy monenlaisia tavalla tai toisella haitallisia välineitä, laitteita, näytteitä ja muita mahdollisia vaaroja. Anatomisten vahamallien ja vahakuvien valmistuksessa käytetyt pigmentit voivat sisältää lyijyä, elohopeaa ja muita raskasmetalleja. Anatomisia ja patologisia näytteitä on voitu säilöä formaliiniin, jota saattaa haihtua ilmaan. Asbestia on käytetty lämpöeristeenä esimerkiksi lämpökaapeissa ja sterilisaattoreissa. Monissa vanhoissa laitteissa voi olla polykloorattuja bifenyylejä eli PCB-yhdisteitä, jotka ovat vaarallisia ympäristömyrkkyjä ja saattavat myös aiheuttaa syöpää. Lääkkeiden valmistukseen on voitu käyttää esimerkiksi arseenia, elohopeaa, digitalista, strykniiniä tai myrkkykeisoa. Eetteri, nitroglyseriini ja pikriinihappo ovat räjähdysherkkiä aineita, ja radium on radioaktiivista. Toisaalta injektioneulat, kirurgiset veitset ja särkyneet lasiesineet aiheuttavat pisto- ja viiltovaaran. Pois suljettua ei ole sekään, ettei vanhoissa instrumenteissa ja niiden säilytyskoteloissa voisi olla jäämiä patogeeneistä.


Kokoelmatyön turvallisuutta voidaan parantaa hyvällä ja asiantuntevalla työnjohdolla, työtehtävien huolellisella ennakkosuunnittelulla, työntekijöiden perehdytyksellä, rauhallisilla työtavoilla ja kutakin työtehtävää varten valituilla suojavarusteilla. Vinyyli- ja erityisesti nitriilihansikkaat suojaavat paremmin haitallisilta aineilta ja pistoilta kuin puuvillahansikkaat, ja kertakäyttöisten hansikkaiden lisäksi kokoelmatyössä kannattaa aina käyttää vähintään suojatakkia ja turvakenkiä. Joidenkin objektien kanssa työskennellessä voidaan tarvita muitakin henkilönsuojaimia, kuten esimerkiksi paksuja nitriilihansikkaita, hiukkasilta tai kaasuilta suojaavaa hengityssuojainta, suojalaseja tai kertakäyttöistä suojahaalaria.


Hyvin suunnitelluilla työtiloilla ja säilytysratkaisuilla sekä varoitusmerkinnöillä ja huolellisella dokumentaatiolla voidaan vaikuttaa siihen, etteivät vaaralliset esineet aiheuta terveydellistä haittaa museon työntekijöille tulevaisuudessakaan. Kaikkein vaarallisimmat objektit tai niiden osat voi olla syytä poistaa turvallisuussyistä kokoelmista kokonaan.




Conservator Katariina Ruuska-Jauhijärvi

Health and safety, conservation, cultural heritage collections

Insinööritoimisto Lauri Mehto Oy


Haitta-aineet tutkijan näkökulmasta / Kyselytunti haitta-aineista tutkijoille


a panel discussion


Työturvallisuus haitta-aineisiin liittyen tulee ottaa huomioon kulttuuriperintökohteiden kanssa työskennellessä. Kohteet voivat olla rakennuksia tai museoiden, muistiorganisaatioiden tai muiden tahojen kokoelmiin kuuluvia esineitä, teoksia tai asiakirjoja. Keskustelussa keskitytään tutkijan näkökulmaan haitta-aineita käsiteltäessä. Käytännön esimerkkeinä annetaan ohjeita haitta-aineiden tunnistamiseen sekä toimintaohjeita työturvallisuuteen niiden käsittelyssä. Lisäksi pohditaan haitta-aineiden merkitystä esineelle tutkijan näkökulmasta, kuten miten näytteitä otetaan suojelukohteesta, miten kartoitetaan kokoelmien haitta-ainepitoisia materiaaleja, vaikuttavatko esineen haitta-ainepitoiset materiaalit sen kulttuurihistorialliseen arvoon.


Keskustelijat:

Kutsutut (alustava):             Tomi Tolppi (Labroc Oy, FM asiakkuuspäällikkö), Kai Salmi (Suomen Asbesti- ja Pölysaneerausliikkeiden liitosta, pj SAP ry), muut keskustelijat tarkentuvat myöhemmin

Keskustelijat/haastattelijat: Katariina Ruuska-Jauhijärvi (Insinööritoimisto Lauri Mehto Oy, konservaattori YAMK, VTT asbesti- ja haitta-aineasiantuntija), muut keskustelijat tarkentuvat myöhemmin


Keskusteluaiheet:

-Miten toimia asbestia/ haitta-aineita sisältävän esineen kanssa, mistä/ keneltä saa tietoa

-Asbestia/haitta-aineita sisältävän esineen tunnistaminen, käsittely, varastointi, hävittäminen

-Saako asbestia/ haitta-aineita sisältävä esine olla esillä näyttelyssä ja tuleeko asbesti merkitä

-Esineiden turvallinen säilytys, eivät levitä asbestia mutta eivät myöskään vaurioita esinettä

-Miten asbesti ja haitta-ainekartoitus tulisi suorittaa suojeltuun rakennukseen

-Kyselytutkimus museoihin, mitä tietoa heiltä löytyy aiheesta ja mitä esineitä

-Haitta-ainekartoitus museokokoelmiin

-Asbestia sisältävistä rakennustuotteista olemassa kattava lista, esineistä vastaava?

-Rakennustuotteista olemassa tähtiluokitus, jonka avulla määritellään materiaalin pölyävyys ja vaarallisuus, esineistä vastaava?



Session 4B: Costumes and reconstructions



Ninya Mikhaila

Reconstructing early modern dress

The Tudor Tailor, UK


“My clothes which I brought to sea with me”: An example of seventeenth century mariner’s dress


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


This paper investigates the biography of a seventeenth century garment worn by a whaler when he was buried on an island on the archipelago of Svalbard. The jacket, or doublet, shows evidence of having been worn, repaired, patched and mended over a long period of time. The original construction offers clues to the status of the original wearer, which appears to have been considerably more elevated that that of the final owner. The methods of repair, and the materials used for patching, give insights into the second-hand clothing trade, as well as the practices of early modern tailors. Careful study of the garment enabled patterns to be drafted and reconstructions made. These processes help to tell both the life story of the jacket in addition to offering glimpses into the lives of the men who wore it.


The Svalbard garment has been called both a doublet and a jacket. Does the name matter for the purposes of its cultural biography? Does it matter what we call it and what the man who wore it called it? The garment was part of an ensemble, how did it relate to the other layers worn with it? A survey of Basque sources from the 16th century suggests that eight distinct types of garment were worn by mariners, including jackets, hose, shirts and a cape or coat. The list of clothes left by Thomas Darbye, a sailor from Wivenhoe, Essex in 1585 compares favourably with the Spanish lists, as does the contents of a sea chest belonging to Antonio Gonzales, a 26-year-old illiterate sailor from Triana, who travelled to New Spain in 1571.


It has been said that there is not much evidence for mariners’ dress before 1650 and that it is assumed that they wore variations of everyday dress – as warm and waterproof as natural materials could be made, amply cut to allow for active movement, but not so loose as to entangle in any rigging or equipment. There is an emerging wealth of information based on the recent study of clothing found at several archaeological sites including the Mary Rose shipwreck (1545), Portsmouth, UK, Red Bay whaling station (1565), Labrador, Canada and the Vasa shipwreck (1628), Stockholm, Sweden. A study of the wills of ordinary people in England provides further useful information dating from 1558-1603. Some of the men leaving items of clothing in their wills distinguish one or more of the garments as sea clothes, suggesting that there were specific features that made them suitable for work aboard ship. Robert Lambe, a merchant of Northumberland had a “sea gown of russet” with a value of 6s 8d among his possessions whilst another man referred to “my sea bed and sea clothes”.


Making reconstructions of the archaeological finds is vital to aiding the understanding of their functionality and their relationship to each other. The sailors, soldiers and whalers who wore them all came from different countries, each with their own distinct styles of fashionable dress. However, the men who worked at sea had much in common with one another. Their work was strenuously physical, often wet and carried out in extreme climates. Does the cut and construction of their dress reflect that of the clothing of their land based contemporaries, or does mariner’s dress exhibit common features particular to the occupation, regardless of the country the men came from? Reconstruction makes it possible to ask whether the tailoring methods seen in these garments were employed because they were cheap, quick, efficient or clever. A reconstruction of the Svalbard garment will be available for handling, study and discussion during questions.



Dr Veronica Isaac

Material Culture, Dress History, Theatre History

University of Brighton and Victoria & Albert Museum, United Kingdom


Towards a New Methodology for Working with Historic Theatre Costume: A Biographical Approach


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


Direct engagement with the material culture of historic theatre costume, particularly surviving costumes, has the potential to make a significant contribution to the existing discourse surrounding costume and performance. The comparative absence of the surviving costumes from such discussions, stems in part from the fact that the value of this source material has yet to be fully recognised, researched and theorised.


Drawing upon recently completed doctoral research, this paper unites approaches from dress history, theatre history and material culture, to offer a specific methodology for the investigation and analysis of theatre costume, which is founded upon the examination and assessment of such garments.


This methodology will bring to light the valuable visual and physical evidence about performance and design that can be gathered from surviving costumes. As will be demonstrated, constructing the ‘biography’ of a theatre costume offers a means through which to explore the numerous ‘associations’ and ‘identities’ it can accumulate during a life cycle which often includes not only damage, repair and alteration, but potentially ‘translation’ to different performers and productions.


The celebrated actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928), an individual highly attuned to the significance of dress as an expression of identity, will be used as a case study to demonstrate the validity of this new methodology. The close analysis of key examples from Terry’s theatrical wardrobe will establish the factors fundamental to the interpretation and study of theatrical costume and highlight their significant role these garments can play as carriers of meaning, memory and identity.


The paper will confirm the status of theatrical costumes as unique garments, which represent a key source for design, dress and theatre historians. It will also demonstrate that the biographical methodology presented can be employed in the study of other figures, theatres and periods, opening up a new and productive direction for future research.



Doctor of Arts, exhibition curator, costume designer Joanna Weckman

Performance costume studies

Independent researcher


Seams, stitches and swordplay – the story of one early Finnish film costume


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


According to museologist Susan M. Pearce, objects are endowed with special characteristics relating to their social life, or, in other words, to their role in social reproduction, invitation to possession and valuation, and their ability to survive much longer than human beings. All of these are very much at the heart of the matter when discussing period costumes for stage and screen, which often communicate historical hierarchies, can have a lifetime of several decades in active use and are more likely than contemporary style costumes to enter the museum context, especially when associated with an established performer. When a live performance or film shoot is completed, the costumes remain. They can be preserved in stock rooms, some will be recycled, some forgotten, lost or sold, and at some point in their life, a few may end up in museum collections. This presentation will follow the lifeline of one early Finnish film costume, and introduce the postdoctoral study Touching the Past – extant film costumes as mediators of historical costume practices, which was developed with the aim of drawing more attention to the use of costumes as research material for theatre and film studies. The study was undertaken at Aalto University School of Arts and Design (2015–2016), as part of a larger research project titled Costume Methodologies (2014–2018) awarded by the Academy of Finland.



Session 4C: Caskets, fonts and biers



Elisabeth Murray

Assistant of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion

V&A Museum, England


Thinking outside the box: An exploration of the interpretation of 17th Century Embroidered Caskets at the V&A


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


The V&A holds twenty 17th century English embroidered caskets. They are an extremely popular part of the Textile and Fashion Collection. Two of the caskets are on display in the Museum and those in storage are the subject of frequent study appointments. These caskets, along with their counterparts in other museum collections, have been the focus of consistent scholarship in the past few decades, predominantly in publications exploring 17th century embroidery. This scholarship almost exclusively focuses on the exterior embroidery of the caskets. The interior, unless it has complementary embroidery to the exterior, is rarely discussed. Neither are the caskets delicate scent bottles, exquisite marbled paper or delightful secret drawers explored in more than a sentence.


Using the caskets as a case-study, this paper will examine the impact being in a museum has on how an object is perceived and how it’s ‘life’ is represented. It will explore which aspects of the caskets are presented to visitors and which characteristics we choose not to emphasise. Finally it will discuss how departmental designations, such being in a Textile Collection, can shape how we see and study objects.


Please note the caskets referred to in this proposal can be found here: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/search/?listing_type=&offset=0&limit=15&narrow=&extrasearch=&q=embroidered+casket&commit=Search&quality=0&objectnamesearch=&placesearch=&after=&after-adbc=AD&before=&before-adbc=AD&namesearch=&materialsearch=&mnsearch=&locationsearch=



Curator, art historian Risto Paju

Art History

Tallinn City Museum, Estonia


‘Under a false name’ The story of a lost and found historical baptismal font


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


Artefacts, even those that are large and heavy, are movable. They can disappear during tumultuous times (e.g. wars) and – if not destroyed – turn up again somewhere else decades later with a very interesting 'biography'.

This presentation focuses on an object from Tallinn City Museum's collection of ashlars – a large stone basin. Research revealed that this was not a mere museum object, but a museum find. The basin's story is made even more fascinating by the fact that it not only involves the small western Estonian town of Lihula but also Tallinn, Stockholm and Marburg.


The large limestone basin has been part of the collection for decades and was thought to be a garden vase. Unfortunately, we do not exactly know how it arrived at Tallinn City Museum, but research uncovered the font's true origins.


The baptismal font of the church of Lihula, a small settlement in western Estonia, was likely presented to Tallinn Art Museum around the 1920s, where it was studied and sketched by renowned Swedish art historian Tor Helge Kjellin, who worked at the University of Tartu. This bears later significance in the story. The font then disappeared during or after the war. The museum's assets and documents were damaged and the font's very existence was forgotten about – until recently. When compiling a garden-themed exhibition, I chose the stone garden vase in Tallinn City Museum's lapidarium as one potential object to be displayed. This was the name given to a large stone basin of unknown origin when it was recorded in the museum's inventory in the 1950s. The vase did not end up on display in the garden exhibition due to its considerable size, but the seed of doubt had already been planted – what if it was a baptismal font? This was not proven at the time; confirmation came around a year later. A colleague who studies Estonian medieval baptismal fonts and to whom I had once shown this 'garden vase' with regard to my suspicions discovered a small rough sketch depicting the very same basin from the Tor Helge Kjellin collection in the Swedish National Archives in Stockholm. The sketch included a note that it was the baptismal font from Lihula Church.


Some time later, when I was writing an article on the find, I came across another image – this time a photo. It is rare in the museum’s daily life to accidentally find a picture of an object that is currently under study when browsing archive photos simply to pass the time, but this is how we uncovered the only existing photograph of the baptismal font to date from the Marburg Picture Index (it having been archived simply as a baptismal font in Estonia without any information as to its exact location). The photograph also features the font's stand, half of which has unfortunately been lost.


The font's dating still poses some difficulties, because the basin has no inscriptions and this particular shape was used for several centuries. This type of font in Germany dates from the 16th century, but Kjellin has ascribed it to the 17th century. Meanwhile, Estonian art historian Merike Kurisoo, who studies Estonian medieval baptismal fonts, believes that the stonework dates from the 18th or 19th century.


There are not many stone baptismal fonts in Estonia and the recovery of a lost one adds to the overall picture. To conclude, the aim of this presentation is to introduce an artefact that was once lost and presented under a false name until rediscovered and to provide its so-called biography. The presentation also discusses the font's art history background and materials.



BA, furniture conservator, art history student Saila Leskinen

Art history, conservation

University of Helsinki


Tales along the last road: life stories of Finnish funeral biers


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


A funeral bier is a stretcher with pairs of long handles on each end and a set of solid legs. History of funeral biers in Europe can be traced to middle ages, and their main purpose was to carry the deceased on their last journey. The Roman catholic tradition echoed in the protestant funeral practises as well. In Finland, the Lutheran church continued the use of biers in funerals up to 1940s. It was an ecclesiastic object used to carry the deceased during the funeral at the church and the graveyard. Several dozens of biers survive to this day, but barely no one knows that they ever existed.


In this cross-disciplinary presentation I compare different lifespans of objects of same kind – the Finnish funeral biers. Out of the surviving biers (the oldest ones dating back to mid-1700s) I’ve selected some examples to illustrate their biographies. The surviving biers have surprisingly varying tales to tell. The biers were communal objects owned by the parish and remain so even today. There were different ways to make and decorate the biers as well as to use and store them. Although the biers weren’t sacred or liturgical objects, their very existence was regulated by law – both back then and present. The religious practices and attitudes towards death – both official and vernacular – and changes in them also affected the biers as objects.


In time, biers were replaced by other equipment, but they didn’t simply cease to exist. What happened to the biers when they were no longer in use? How did they survive? Why did they become forgotten? Based on my research derived from the group of surviving biers, I present probable reasons and explanations for the disappearance of some biers and the survival of others. I pay special attention to one case of conservation (carried out by myself) and display of a bier. The case illustrates both material and ethical points of view and sets the bier in modern context. Some mysteries remain, but this presentation is to shed some light upon the lives of these long forgotten but still existing artefacts.



Session 4D: Archaeological insights 1



Docent Kristiina Mannermaa

Archaeology

University of Helsinki


An ornamented antler artefact (6200 cal BC) from Lepaa, Southern Finland - ceremonial or everyday use?


a PowerPoint presentation by several experts


Kristiina Mannermaa (1)., Evgeny Girya (2) & Dimitri Gerasimov, D. (2)

1) Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, Archaeology, P.O. box 59, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.

2) Russian Academy of Sciences, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Saint Petersburg, Russia


A unique artefact of wild reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) antler was found in 1958 during a construction work on the bank of the Lepaa river, Southern Finland. Soon after the discovery it became a part of the Finland National Museum storage (coll. NM 14500). For a long time the artefact age was presumed rather young, but in 2001 an AMS date 6434–6099 BC (7420±75, Hela-516) was obtained (Ojanen, 2002. P. 11). This required new studies of the artefact. Preliminary results as well as detailed morphological description and full research history of the find have been recently published (Mannermaa, 2016). In the end of 2016 macro-traces of the artefact making and use were studied in detail, and preliminary documenting of micro-traces on some parts of it was conducted in the Finnish National Board of Antiquities.


The outer horizontal surface (A - fig. 1) was carefully treated and ground, then ornamented by hatched triangles. The ornament was probably made in two (or more) stages, with an intermediate stage for the surface treatment, which could possibly bring a “two-colour” effect: it seems that hatched triangles had alternately dark and reddish tinge. The ornament was probably made on soften surface by beaver mandible tools.


The inner horizontal surface (B) was treated much coarser. There is also an ornament, but only on some separated areas. It consists of hatched areas and fan-shaped patterns (the same pattern presents on the distal part of the surface A, and it is notably different from the ornament on the main part of the surface). There are plenty of traces (scratches and dints) evident of contact with rather coarse material. The bottom rib (E) has similar hard use-wear.


There are several deep and wide grooves made on top of the ornament on the both outer and inner horizontal surfaces. The upper horizontal surface (C) was carefully treated but not ground. There is a well-pronounced polishing on the bottom rib and the upper horizontal surface. The bottom rib is shiny polished, rounded in profile and flattened; such traces on the artefacts made of antlers is characteristic for contact with soft materials. Trial experiments on antler-snow contact made in 2017 gave no comparable results.


The distal part of the inner vertical surface (D) has pronounced polishing very similar to what appear during antler-skin contact. But the well-treated proximal part of this surface with well-pronounced ribs has no such wear-traces. There is no wear traces on the cavity at the proximal part of the outer vertical surface (F). The whole surface of the artefact is covered by developed mate polishing similar to what appears of hand contact.

We have not found parallels to the described shape and/or assemblage of traces. Thus we do not have basis for interpreting the function of the artefact yet. It requires more studying and experiments. Our data allows supposing that it was actively used for doing a certain mechanical work and contacted with different materials. Also there were no wear-traces of such contacts on the ornamented surface A that can mean special care for this part of the artefact. The last deposition circumstance as well as the carefulness of the treatment and ornamenting of the Lepaa artefact can be evidence of its certain ritual significance, but its everyday use is possible as well, for instance as part of a multi-component tool.


References:

Mannermaa K. An ornamented antler artefact (c. 6200 cal BC) from southern Finland and its northern European context // Mesolithic Miscellany. N 24:2 (Dec 2016). 2016. P.19-30.

Ojanen E. 2002. Tyrvännön historia. Hattula: Tyrväntö-seura. 462 p.



Dr Elisabeth   Holmqvist-Sipilä

Archaeology

University of Helsinki


Biographies of pots and potters: identifying and interpreting Neolithic mobility in the Baltic Sea region based on ceramic geochemistry


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


This talk discusses biographies of pots and potters and how geochemistry methods can be used to reveal patterns of mobility and material exchange in the Baltic Sea region during the Neolithic Corded Ware Culture (CWC) period (ca. 2900–2000 BCE).  Scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectrometry (SEM-EDS) and particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) analyses of grog-tempered CWC pots from 24 archaeological sites in Estonia, Finland and Sweden were carried out for geochemical discrimination, source determination and micro-structural and technological characterization of the ceramic artefacts. Geochemical data of the pottery fabrics and grog-temper (crushed pottery mixed with clay in the pottery manufacture, representing the previous generation pots) were used to map inter-regional mobility of the pots and potters, and to identify regional CWC pottery manufacturing traditions. Ethnographic studies have shown strong social and symbolic value in the practice of tempering new pots with old ones, e.g., as a way to link communities, locations, generations and individuals. The patterns how these pots were made and distributed in inter-communal networks allow us to extend our understanding of the biographies of these objects and the people who made them. The technological details in the manufacture combined with compositional data patterns can be used to differentiate cross-Baltic Sea movement of pots and potters, identify patterns of knowledge transfer, and manufacture traditions specific to certain locations.



Sarah Morton

Objects Conservation and Heritage Studies

Bath Spa University and Oxfordshire Museum Service, United Kingdom


Life After Death: The post-excavation biography of the Lowbury Hill skeleton


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


Within objects conservation the reversibility of treatments as best practice has been shown to be problematic, as it suggests our interactions with objects can somehow be undone (Ashley-Smith 1999). Engaging with the biography of objects therefore offers conservators a way of theorising their interactions with material culture in relation to what they add and what they take away. This is an approach that encourages an understanding of past treatments not as interventions to reversed, but as part of an ongoing biography of the object. In this paper, we examine this approach in practice through the case study of the conservation treatment of human remains from the Lowbury Hill burial that went on display at The Oxfordshire Museum in March 2017. Excavated in 1916, the grave contained the remains of an Anglo-Saxon male buried with high status grave goods. Previous archaeological studies of the remains focused on the information they could reveal about the life of the man buried on Lowbury Hill however, preparing them for display offered an opportunity to explore the post excavation biography of the remains through the materiality of the previous conservation treatments.


Krmpotic et al. (2010) have suggested that human remains can be understood as having agency accrued from the material properties of human bone and from the bones as parts of human beings. What this project highlighted was that human remains can also accrue meanings and agency from past interventions and, as the many painstaking hours of removing the PVA coating demonstrated, we were interacting with both the bones as material and the materials added during previous treatment, the entanglement of which created a new narrative. As we discussed how to tell the story of this Anglo-Saxon man as a living person and interpret the post excavation biography of his remains, the tensions between remains as representative of a living person and as material object emerged, foregrounding that a linear biograph in which meanings of the remains shift from person to object does not allow for instability in the boundaries separating subject from object (Pels et al. 2002, Mol 2002) and risks fixing their meaning (Hicks 2010). Therefore, as objects conservators, thinking about the life after death of the Lowbury Hill skeleton has raised some interesting questions around how we conceptualise the biographies of human remains, work with slippery combinations of life and matter and explore the issues that arise at the intersections of different meanings.



Session 5A: Social objects



PhD student Satu Kankainen

European ethnology


No-one wants my Myrna cups


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


During their lifetime, people accumulate a variety of objects. The life cycle of several objects can be longer than their owners' life cycle. Objects are created to last and have been taken care of in such a way that they can withstand years to come. Some of the objects are so important for their owners that the item is hoped to pass on to.


Objects are used to create and maintain the identity of a person and/or family. Different objects are the preservers of family memories and build the history of the family. Certain objects are more meaningful and some objects are considered irreplaceable. (eg. Csikszentmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton 1981, Kopytoff 1986) However, the meaning of objects is under discussion. Mass production, abundant amount of goods, increased living standards and minimalism trend for example have been mentioned as a cause of change in the importance of objects (eg. Fine 2002, Ilmonen 2007, Miller 2008). It is said that younger people have no need for objects or they are not interested in objects unlike previous generations.


What if the next generation refuses to receive objects thought to be inherited? Is it true that nobody wants the family heirlooms anymore?


My presentation is based on eight group discussions I led in 2016–2017 in six different regions of Finland. Each discussion had 3–6 participants and the participants were aged 23–85 years. In the discussions, participants talked about their own wishes for dealing with their own objects after they have passed away. The perception of the length of the life cycle of objects directs people to make decisions about the future of their belongings.

Talking about heritage and heritage objects offers a different point of view of the meaning of things and the study of materiality in the 2010s. My presentation gives the audience an idea of how objects and people’s life cycles meet, cross and differ. How does the length of the human life affect the ownership of the object? How different generations talk about storing and disposing objects –both of which tell about the meaning of the objects. Do the young people speak differently and are there tensions between generations? How people talk about refusal of objects?



Doctoral Candidate Veera Kinnunen

Sociology

University of Lapland


Composing biographies of unwanted things


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


In this paper I focus on the biographies of unwanted objects by following how things are being valued, labelled, handled, thought about, kept and divested in the process of moving house. In the widely spread interpretation of the object biography the unwanted objects have experienced “social death”. Thus, they have turned into worthless trash, at least until they are revalued again later on in their material life-span. I will focus on stuff that is lingering in the limbo between social and material death. Focusing on things in that liminal space questions concept of object metaphor. It makes one ask, when does one biography end and another one begin. What is the biographer’s role in this process? Is that metaphor at all useful when researching “stuff”, “wild things” and “clutter” instead of cherished objects? Does the metaphor of object biography tidy up the unfinishedness and messiness of living with things? 


The paper is based on my dissertation to be defended on November 24, 2017



Senior Researcher Toni Ryynänen

Consumer Economics

University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute


Everyday Object in Consumption Experiences: Exploration into Recalled Life Situations Involving a Thermos Bottle


a PowerPoint presentation by several experts


Consumer researchers became interested in the experiential aspects of consumption at the beginning of the 1980s. The research agenda extended towards nostalgia and extraordinary experiences at the beginning of the next decade. Although consumption related nostalgia is a well-covered research topic, the recalled life situations involving everyday objects are studied in a lesser extent.


Exploring the relationship between everyday objects and life events capable of inducing consumption experiences is timely for several reasons. Memories have been utilised profoundly creating and maintaining product imagery for the selling purposes in advertising, the banking sector, heritage film and nostalgia website industries: the remembrance of times past, longing and collecting have been an increasing business since the 1980s.


There is a need to understand better the interplay between remembered consumption experiences and everyday products from the consumers’ perspective. Thermos bottles are seldom considered as special family heirlooms, having pecuniary value or high cultural or otherwise special meanings associated to artefacts such as pieces of art or collectibles. However, these simple and ordinary everyday products of a little value embody, mediate and represent events in the consumers’ past that induce recalled experiences and appear as homely, represent continuity and are meaningful to the consumers in various ways.


Our aim is to analyse recalled experiences that draw from individuals’ life situations involving a thermos bottle. The purpose is to examine how the consumers describe this relationship in their own words. The research materials consist of 480 written experience descriptions collected with a writing contest administered by a Finnish company Airam Electric Ltd. The materials were analysed with an interpretive approach. The recollections situated to leisure and work contexts: physical characteristics of thermos bottles and other complementary products, meaningful others, repeating practices, and scent memories were described in detail.


The preliminary results indicate that the experiences are connected with continual and singular life events: 1) Everyday routines with an object and 2) maintaining of object related traditions represents continual life situations whereas 3) the transitional stages of life and 4) extraordinary events involving an object point to the sporadic life events. The presentation is concluded with a framework that extends the current debates about recalled consumption experiences involving an everyday object from the perspective of the consumers’ life situations. Differences between the continual and sporadic object relationships are also suggested.



Academy Research Fellow Virve Peteri

Sociology

University of Tampere


The Biography of an Office Chair: Designing Future Offices and Workers


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


The presentation traces the biography of an office chair from the designers’ desk to the meetings of a product team through the test laboratory to the international furniture fair and finally to its’ adoption and use. The notion of biography emphasizes how the chair gain meanings in relation to each new environment where it settles in. From this point of view, an innovation has a history, which has an impact on the ways it is adopted and on the everyday practices of the users. Therefore, it is vital to examine the manufacturing and design of products and not only the domestication phase of a material object. This approach recognizes how products are in a constant process of change and translation. (Pollock, Williams & Procter 2003.) Although this approach sees the product as having a design history before it is domesticated this history does not need to be understood as having a clear-cut impact on the domestication processes. Rather the actual manufacturers; engineers, designers, project managers and marketing people as well as the actual users are conceived as co-producers of the products and their consequences. (see Williams 2006.)


The presentation is concerned with how, in the process of producing an office chair, the chair gains an identity of an aesthetic design object and how this comes to mean the reformulation of the idea of ergonomics. The empirical analysis also provides insight into how the somewhat grand discourses of soft capitalism or aesthetic economy are not abstract, but very much grounded in everyday practices of an organization. The article establishes how the vision negotiated with and then shared by all the relevant actors in the production phase invites active, flexible, and cooperative end-users and how the vision also has potential material effects. The research is an ethnographically inspired case study that draws ideas from discursive psychology.



Session 5B: Personal and object biographies combined



Docent Anna Kuismin

Cultural history

University of Helsinki


Vilppu Jeremiaanpoika’s reading boards: A literal case of object biography


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


The wooden boards inscribed by Vilppu Jeremiaanpoika (1858–1898) form an interesting case of object biography, because the boards reveal something of their own making and include autobiographical information of the creator. Vilppu was probably a self-taught man; there was no primary school in his childhood Joutsa. The boards (150 x 10 x 2 centimetres) are skillfully carved with a knife, with idiosyncratic spelling and grammar. Five of them are preserved at the Itä-Häme Museum, the Joutsa Museum and the municipality of Joutsa. There is a hole in each piece; perhaps they were meant to be hung on the wall. Vilppu called his creations as lukulauta, a reading board that were used in teaching children to read. The Finnish alphabet is carved on the first board. The second board has not survived, but there is a summary in the third one: the topics included greetings information on money. The fourth board probably dealt with measurements, weights and money.


The boards date from the time Vilppu Jeremiaanpoika spent in the municipal home before his death, characterized as a lunatic. The inmates were expected to take part in the farming work, but Vilppu might have made some furniture, too: there are images of chairs and a chest of drawers in the first board. It also includes a mention of Vilppu’s birth and the death of his parents and the auction of their belongings. In the ninth board he depicts his life after this event – he travelled to St Petersburg and lived in the Karelian Isthmus, making wooden horse collars. As if anticipating a question from a future reader, he explains his goal in the following way:

 

Vilppu Jeremiaanpoika has made this board of birch trees from the woods

this board is the first of ten

on this same board Vilppu wrote

his own name in printed letters

his own word his own writing his own letter

so that one knows how one is

what is one’s work

what I have done. (1)


I see the boards as a legacy: they carry his name and preserve information on his life. Vilppu was not the only one among Finnish common people to produce objects of this kind. For example, there is writing in the knitted skirts and woven rugs of Siina Savijoki (1859–1940). Comparable material can be found in other countries, too. Clelia Marchi, an Italian peasant woman wrote her autobiography on what came to hand, namely a large bed-sheet. Another person to use a cloth to write on is Lorina Bulwer who made a sampler, whilst resident in the female lunatic ward of Great Yarmouth Workhouse. “With no punctuation, and entirely in upper case, each word has been carefully hand-stitched onto a patchwork of fabrics by the maker. In the sampler, Lorina tells the reader stories about her life and her family, including how she feels about being in the workhouse.”


(1) This rendition does not follow the way the text is set on the board.



MA Katja Weiland-Särmälä

History

University of Helsinki


Pastor Family's Immaterial and Material Heritage


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


The main perspective of my presentation is to observe immaterial and material heritage, which I examine through a specific pastor family, the Kjäldströms. This study takes place in the field of history, specially microhistory, but I also use methods on the field of oral history and art history.


I define immaterial heritage mainly on the basis of Giovanni Levis classical Reseach of “La herencia immaterial”.  For Levi immaterial heritage was social status, social reputation and prestige. In the nutshell the main idea of Immaterial heritage was that in ideal case those useful networks and tools could be transformed from “father to son”.


In my study I define immaterial heritage in wider perspective than Levi does. It is basic concept which includes family strategies and networks, but also ideologies, values, habits and lifestyle. I also claim that also material things can possess immaterial values and immaterial heritage.


My viewpoint is microhistorical, and my aim is to observe how immaterial and material heritage moved on from generation to generation in this specific family and how they were transformed during that process. My main source material is the Kjäldström-von Rehausen large family archive. It includes thousands of letters, tens of diaries and memoirs from the late 18th century to mid 20th Century. Besides the classic source material, the family archive contains also many objects and things. Therefore my interest is also focused on concrete material heritage and the values they possessed.


In my presentation I will observe different objects and how they were valued in family and why. I use testaments and letters to observe how the same object was valued in various times. In my study I examine the family treasures as part of immaterial heritage. Even though they are material things, they were filled with family history, values, memories, meanings and stories. Immaterial and material values are often mixed in family treasures. The diary holds immaterial value, but it can also be seen as beautiful artefact. The family ring may hold both material and immaterial values. And sometimes -as we all know- things are esteemed n the basis of emotions rather than their real value. Sometimes an object literally changes and transforms from generation to generation.  For instance the old family recipe book is not just an object which is passed from mother to daughter, but each time during that process it has been added few more recipes.


One other interesting question in my thesis is, why this family archive has been treasured and stored from generations to generations. Why these specific objects -which some were quite worthless- were selected to be worth saving? For me immaterial heritage is something which also has to be considered as part of preserving and depositing process.



Museum educator, MA Susanna Vallius

Museology

Finnish Air Force Museum / University of Jyväskylä


”This once belonged to him”: Object-based biography of the first Finnish military pilot Väinö Mikkola


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


Väinö Mikkola (1890-1920) was the first Finnish military pilot. After studying electrical engineering in Germany, he enlisted to Russian Naval Air Forces in 1915. He served there until the Finnish civil war broke out and Finnish Air Forces were formed. Mikkolas career didn’t last long. He lost his life in a plane crash while flying over the Swiss Alps with his observer Äly Durchman.


Few years back, I happened to leaf through his archives in our museums library. In one of his diary entries from 1917, he had written ”I long for something, but I do not know what”. My interest was immediately awakened by this highly personal and at the same time relatable sentence. I started to gather all the available information about him. He was mentioned in many aviation history publications, but nobody had really written about him. His career as a military pilot was well documented but it didn’t answer my questions: Who he really was and how was he like?


I contacted Mikkola’s family and got to borrow his photo albums and archive materials: some correspondence, postcards and certificates. In addition, the family wanted to donate us objects that had belonged to him and were passed through three generations. Objects that his family and a closest friend had chosen to save as keepsakes of him. These objects are the only material evidence of his life.


During the last couple of years, I have written Väinö Mikkolas biography which will be published in March 2018. In the book, the objects that once belonged to or were used by him are the keys to different periods in his life. In my paper, I will discuss the process of creating a cohesive story based on objects and photographs. How have I chosen to interprete this group of objects and what do they tell us about Väinö and his family?  As a museum educator, I also aim to find ways to engage our visitors. How have I used these objects in our upcoming exhibition in order to tell stories and make our visitors feel empathy with him?



Dr. Robert Kusek

Literature, auto/biography studies

Department of Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland


Objects as Life Anchors: Ekphrastic Memoirs and the Biographies of Objects


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


Over the last decade or so a number of high-profile writers have followed in the footsteps of the artist Edmund de Waal and his memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes (2009), and have written the biographies of objects that have played a vital role in their lives. Such narratives – which can be labelled “ekphrastic memoirs” or “memoirs of objects” –  do not only offer descriptions or history of objects (simply understood as fixable items that are both visible and tangible), but, most importantly, acknowledge them as (human) life’s anchors, receptacles of memories, vital points of reference and their organising principles, as well as stimulants that might have generated a given narrative in the first place. Hardly ever do memoirs of objects restrict themselves to narrating a person’s life only (by referring to or describing items that the person in question has either possessed or encountered) or to the (ab)use of objects as illustrations of that life. More often than not, objects are given a life of their own; they become “bio-objects,” which, like in Tadeusz Kantor’s theatre are neither decorations nor props. Together with the writer, they become an integral part of the memoir and their story is put on a par with the story of the writer’s life.


The present paper wishes to investigate the phenomenon of ekphrastic memoirs/object biographies by investigating a number of genre specimens that have been released over the years in English-speaking countries (A House Unlocked by Penelope Lively of 2001, The Pattern in the Carpet by Margaret Drabble of 2009, and My Life in Houses by Margaret Foster of 2014). However, special attention will be paid to Penelope Lively’s memoir Ammonites and Leaping Fish (2013) and six object biographies that she narrates in this book – objects that happen to be artworks and which she defines as her “identifying cargo”.


Robert Kusek, Assistant Professor, Department of Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture, Institute of English Studies, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland. His research interests include life writing genres, the contemporary novel in English, poetics of memory and loss, as well as a comparative approach to literary studies. He is the author of two monographs, including Through the Looking Glass: Writers’ Memoirs at the Turn of the 21st Century (Jagiellonian University Press, 2017), and several dozen articles published in books, academic journals, and magazines, as well as co-editor of ten volumes of articles, most notably Travelling Texts: J.M. Coetzee and Other Writers (Peter Lang, 2014). He also works at the Research Institute of European Heritage at the International Cultural Centre in Kraków.



Session 5C: Global objects



Misa Tamura

Conservation of world cultures materials

The Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History, University of Glasgow, UK

 

Pacific Barkcloth: evidence of use, indigenous repairs and how conservation responds to them

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

In this presentation, I would like to discuss how the conservation programme for a barkcloth project at the University of Glasgow characterises, incorporates and preserves possible evidence of use and indigenous repairs. Situating Pacific Barkcloth in Time and Place is a cross-disciplinary project based at the Centre for Textile Conservation Centre and Technical Art History. The project aims to investigate the material nature of Pacific barkcloth from the perspectives of science, history and conservation. 

 

Pacific barkcloth, or tapa, is made by beating the inner bark of trees from the moraceae family, such as paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) and breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis). Various colourants, applied by a variety of techniques, were used to decorate the surface of the finished cloths creating not only regionally distinctive but also individual design patterns that are culturally symbolic to the islands of production. The finished cloths were used in both domestic and ceremonial contexts as garments or as soft-furnishings in a household, as well as being a symbol of power and status.

 

The production of barkcloth was at one time discontinued in several islands once renowned for this practice but a movement for its active revitalisation has since been underway. It is essential that the material evidence of the historic process of production in public museums is closely examined in order to reconstruct and inform contemporary practice. This is especially relevant since the historical account of past barkcloth production, recorded by explorers and collectors, may only be fragmentary and not always reflective of the voices of the makers themselves.

 

Features considered as evidence of use, or their originating context, and indigenous repairs can play a key role in reconstructing a narrative or biography of the objects. Creases and folds from being worn as garments, repairs to the fabric that evince care and maintenance by the original owners, and even what can be considered as “manufacturing defects,” are considered as part of the significance of the objects. Through these features one can observe the life of the objects, their material structure as well as the humanising handiwork of the tapa makers conjured up in the object as a kind of a tactile memory. However these kind of features can be obscured or seem indistinguishable from later features which evidence their lives as museum objects in storage. These more recent features can be visually more dominant or louder, such as storage creases and particulate dirt, or the historical restoration attempts layered over them. The conservators perpetually ask themselves questions and are required to make sound and informed decisions on treatment options: what features best articulate the stories of the individual objects’ lives? How can conservation be employed to help preserve and protect them?

 

Carrying out condition assessments and conservation treatment on Pacific barkcloth objects from the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, I have encountered a number of such evidential traces on the objects. As conservators, working physically and closely with the objects in order to stabilise them for better care and access, we often find ourselves in the position to identify, characterise and preserve such significant features in the objects. Using several case studies, I will illustrate some of these characteristics as well as the unusual indigenous repairs, evidential traces that were distinguishable from post-acquisition intervention, as well as evidence of garments having been worn, showing how conservation was employed not only to stabilise the material structure but also to preserve such evidence and the narrative that it conveys.



Marika Sandell

Cultural Anthropology, North American Indigenous Studies

University of Helsinki

 

From a Colonial Curio to a Decolonial Icon – The Lives and Travels of Caribou Skin Parka VK136 of the National Museum of Finland

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

In the late summer of 1841 Russian naturalist I.G. Voznesenskii acquired an indigenous skin garment in Russia’s colony in Alaska. He had been sent there by the Russian Academy of Science to gather colonial objects from the conquered Native peoples for the imperial museums. Voznesenski also collected items for A. A. Etholén, the Finn who then was the de-facto governor of Russia’s American colony, and this way the caribou skin garment ended up in Helsinki, Finland instead of a Saint Petersburg museum.

 

The garment listed as VK136 in the Etholén collections at the Finnish National Museum/Museum of Cultures is a parka of caribou fawn skin – ‘parka’ is a colonial term used for Arctic peoples’ tunics. The parka was made and worn by an Alutiiq (Pacific Eskimo) woman in Katmai village on the Alaskan Peninsula about 180 years ago. After Voznesenskii picked it up, parka VK136 was packed and sent on a journey across Siberia and eventually in 1846 it reached Helsinki, the capital of the Russian Grand Dutchy of Finland. Parka VK136 was first kept with the rest of the Etholén collections at the University, but as Finland took steps towards independence, the collections were transferred to the new National Museum opened in 1916. Since 1999, the parka has been in the collections of the Museum of Cultures.

 

During the parka’s 171 year-long stay in Finland it has mainly resided in the museum storage facilities, but it also has journeyed once back to North America with a travelling exhibition in the 1990s. Its image has been published in a collection catalogue and now parka VK136 also has a presence on the internet via an online-database. In 2013, parka VK136 received a visit from a group of Alutiiq skin sewers who travelled from Alaska to Helsinki. These indigenous women are trying to revitalize the skin sewing culture of their ancestors and they took the parka’s measurements and countless digital photographs of every detail. Back in Alaska, a replica of parka VK136 was produced in a two-year project carried out by the skin sewer’s group helped by Alutiiq school children. When ready the reborn parka was introduced to the local indigenous community as a grandmother returning home from a long journey: worn by one of the seamstresses, the parka became alive as it was ritually danced in front of the audience.

 

This presentation will analyze parka VK136’s biography, its journeys and identity changes in the tides of colonialism with reference to Nicholas Thomas’s influential research on the entanglement of material culture objects in the colonial flows; how the colonial project and building up of ethnographic collections were connected. According to Thomas the colonial discourse of Western “civilization” versus indigenous “primitiveness” was created with help of such ethnographic artifacts. Here, my analysis will examine how parka VK136 not only was part of Western colonial agenda but has further become an icon for the 21st century Alutiit in their decolonization process. More, I will argue that the parka initially emerged from the Alutiiq culture not as a relic of a vanishing “primitive” past, but as a material object already well entrenched in a world shaped by colonialism and intercontinental cultural links.



M.A. Vera-Simone Schulz

Art history

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut, Italy


A Global 'Biography of a Family of Objects': Mamluk Metalwork in 14th- and 15th-Century Italy, Nigeria, China and Beyond


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


In the recent past, concepts of 'biographies' of objects have played a key role in art historical approaches to transcultural dynamics: the 'afterlive' of artifacts from one region in another, the presence of Islamic objects in medieval church treasuries, or the longue durée of the uses, appropriations, transformations, displacements, musealisation processes and methods of Display of single artifacts in transcultural settings. This paper seeks to contribute to the debates on 'biographies' of artifacts and transcultural art history by shedding new light on a 'biography' of a 'family' of objects. The paper will interrogate the globale itineraries of metalwork created in the Mamluk empire in today's Syria and Egypt during the 14th and 15th centuries which, already in these very years, found ist way into regions as diverse as the Apennine peninsula, West Africa, Yemen, Iran and China. The paper will illuminate how Mamluk metal objects were used in different contexts in these regions and how local artists working in diverse media and materials responded to the imported goods: e.g. how Masaccio and Gentile da Fabriano were inspired from Mamluk metal plates for the haloes in their paintings in Italy, while Chinese artists imitated Mamluk metal stands in porcelain. With this approach, the paper does not only seek to tell the success story of a group of artifacts in an Age of pre-modern globalization, in which Europe was but one region in the world - next to Nigeria, Iran and China - where artists took Inspiration from Mamluk metalwork, but it also aims to show the need to transgress the boundaries of the subdisciplines of art history – traditionally subdivided into 'high' and 'applied arts', 'European', 'Islamic', 'African' and 'Asian art history' -, not least because a 'family' of objects entangled the world.



Professor Leila Koivunen

History

University of Turku


From China to Finland: The Sino-African Exhibition of 1911–1912 and the Changing Meanings of Chinese Dress


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


Between March 1911 and April 1912 a touring ""Sino-African"" exhibition travelled around Finland and visited fifteen towns. It was initiated by workers of the Missionary Society of Finland who had brought back artefacts from two locations where the society was active: Hunan Province in south-central China and Ovamboland in south-west Africa. This was the first organized attempt to display non-Western objects to a wide Finnish audience and it proved successful. One of the attractions of the exhibition was missionary Erland Sihvonen, the main organizer and presenter of the exhibition, could be seen dressed in a traditional brightly-colored Chinese costume. The exhibition assistants, who were typically young female members of local missionary associations, also wore Chinese garments.


The proposed presentation follows the route of these garments from China to Finland and discusses their changing meanings in two different cultural contexts. The Chinese artefacts were collected by Sihvonen during his work period in China and they outnumbered all previous Asian collections in Finland, most of which had never been publicly displayed. Costumes representing formal, upper-class contemporary Chinese clothing formed a significant part of his collection. The male clothes in the possession of Sihvonen were acquired primarily for his own use in China. The practice of wearing local dress was prevalent among Western missionaries in China. It was regarded as the easiest and safest way to approach ordinary people. The consequences of wearing Chinese clothes in an exhibition arranged in Finland were quite different. Rather than making him invisible and less foreign, the very same clothes now emphasized his presence and unusual appearance.


By focusing on the Sino-African exhibition, the presentation shows how Chinese garments received different meanings and evoked different sensations as worn in different cultural contexts. It also shows how the presentation of Chinese garments became increasingly detached from the reality in China. During the months that the exhibition travelled around Finland, the revolution in China put an end to four thousand years of dynastic rule and a republic was declared in March 1912. This led to many drastic changes in Chinese society and also had a lasting effect on everyday sartorial practices.



Session 5D: Furniture and knowledge



Dr Stephanie Nadalo

Art History & Museology

Professor at Parsons Paris The New School University / Educator at the Museum of Jewish Art & History, France

 

Context & Community:  A 15th Century Torah Ark & its Modern Publics

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

This paper traces the object biography and exhibition history of a 15th century wooden Torah Ark as the intarsia cabinet moved from its original context in an Italian Jewish synagogue in Modena to its later life in the secular exhibitions and museums of 19-20th century France. The Torah Ark’s journey across the Alps and into the public domain began when the Alsatian Jewish musician and art collector Isaac Strauss purchased the artifact for his personal collection in the mid-19th Century. In 1878, Strauss agreed to exhibit this artifact amongst other Jewish ritual objects at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. Once removed from its original context and subjected to the connoisseurial gaze of collector and public, the Renaissance Torah ark began a new chapter of its life whose significance, I argue, rivals that of its initial moment of creation. 

 

Once displayed in the Trocadero Palace of Paris accompanied by a printed exhibition catalogue, the Torah Ark acquired multivalent layers of significance as both an ethnographical testament to the history of Jewish civilization and as a symbol of the social prominence and relative integration of prominent 19th Century French Jews such as Isaac Strauss himself. This exhibition was significant in establishing ‘Judaica’ as a meaningful category for collectors, and shortly after Strauss’s death, the Torah Ark passed into the collection of Charlotte de Rothschild. She, in turn, negotiated with the French state to have it installed in a special room within the Cluny Museum of Medieval Art identified as the ‘Rothschild Room’.  Although French Jewish identity would soon thereafter be shaken by episodes of anti-Semitism including the Dreyfus Affair and horrors of World War II, the Torah Ark’s journey from its original context in Italy into a French museum of national importance offers critical insight into the shifting discourses and publics that can surround an object over the course of its lifetime.

 

Whereas more traditional art histories privilege an object’s initial moment of creation as that which is most worthy of examination, this paper adopts a chronologically expansive view to assess how the context and community that surrounds this object has changed over time and continues to evolve in our present day. In 1998, the Torah Ark was put on long-term loan to the newly established Parisian Museum of Jewish Art & History, where I am regularly tasked with mediating its history as both a researcher and museum educator. Thus, while this paper will focus on the 19th century contexts of this object, the historical discourse has implications for the current practice of museum curators and educators.

 

Biographical note: Stephanie Nadalo (PhD, 2013) is an art historian whose research examines museology, material culture, and the history of religious pluralism in Europe. She lives in Paris, where she teaches in the Art History Department at Parsons Paris, The New School University and works as a gallery educator at the Museum of Jewish Art and History.

 

Select Citations: - Television Appearance on France 24, ""Jewish History in the Marais and the MAHJ Museum,"" July 4, 2017. https://vimeo.com/224282310
-S. Nadalo, “‘Populating a Nest of Pirates, Murtherers, Etc.’: Tuscan Immigration Policy and Ragion di Stato in the Free Port of Livorno,” in Religious Diasporas in Early Modern Europe: Strategies of Exile, edited by T. Fehler (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2014), 31-45.



MA, watchmaker Jorma Räihä

Art History, Horology

Independent researcher and conservator

 

Notes in Time and Music

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

This paper is an introduction to a prospect to interpret an artefact as a collection of immaterial content by a study of an exceptional musical clock. It was made during the catastrophic and revolutionary years of Sweden, 1717-1728, by Zacharias Besck (1670?-1727). In 1899 Swedish art collector and dealer Christian Hammer wrote to Paul Sinebrychoff that he has bought it from "mechanic Count Gyldenstolpe". Paul Sinebrychoff was very eager to purchase it and eventually managed to do so after Hammer's death in 1905 from Bukowski auction, in which catalogue Besck was misleadingly mentioned as the watchmaker of Queen Christina. Today it is seen in Sinebrychoff Art Museum in Helsinki.

 

This clock may have a complex intellectual content with multilayered network of cross-references, somewhat in an intentionally disguised form. If so, it could be puzzle, which is comprised both of content and contemporary interpretations of the selected 14 melodies as well as its’ artistic and horological features. Because the melodies are marked with general terms like saraband or la folia, by now only five melodies have been identified with some certainty.

 

The John Dryden´s song Whilst Alexis lay pressed may refer to the alleged love affair between Magnus de la Gardie and Queen Christina. A Lutheran hymn Nun danket Alle Gott und bringet Ehr with scarcely known melody finds its way through a detour to the battle of Lützen and to the fate of Gustavus Adophus. The Dance of the Nymphs of Flora in the prologue of Lully´s opera Atys offers a reference to “winter military heroes” both Henri Turenne and Charles XII. Atys as whole could refer e.g. to the tragedy of Cybele and Attis and/or or as allegory of the fate of Sweden during the reign of Charles XII. Marché Suedois from Anders von Düben´s Ballet of Narva, was composed to Swedish victory celebrations executed in 1701. It is marked only as Ballet and with such a bleak imagination Marché Suedois may also refer to the “death march” of Swedish army in winter 1708-09. Gigue la caustique by Marais Marain may refer to labyrinths in general and difficulties to make choices, but also to wondrous findings the scientific world of late 17th century including e.g. major horological innovations and Hyperborean interpretations of Greek and Scandinavian mythology.

 

A small decorative element, the enclosed ball on the top of the clock´s case, serves as a fine example of the possible logic of cross-references between the different elements this clock and intellectual environment of late 17th century Sweden.

 

An enclosed ball acts as celestial globus in Versailles Apollo temple –project by Nikodemus Tessin the Younger, who used Apollo –theme earlier as an allegory of the greatness of the Swedish Imperium in his plans for the Royal Castle of Stockholm. The Rudbeckian ball shaped sundial possesses a strong Apollonian nature on the roof of the Gustavianum of Uppsala University. Olof Rudbeck the Elder, his patron Magnus de la Gardie, was the Chancellor of Uppsala University for decades and Queen Christina (may be present on the clock case) were all widely considered the highly learned, i.e. highly Apollonian, Swedes. The complex allegory the Creator of Universe with statues of Seven Planets (are present on the clock case) and a sundial in the form planned to the garden of Wenngarn Manor, could have their equivalent in this clock in the form of Seven Planets and a clockwork. The pietistic interpretation of an enclosed ball, an allegory of whole universe inclusive the God, was common during Besck´s time.

 

Zacharias Besck was a familiar character in Stockholm Magistrate´s Court mostly due to the persistence of Johan Wideman, the Alderman of the Watchmaker Guild. Besck e.g. illegally manufactured timepieces; as an apprentice in Königsberg he stole his master's horological equipment; his permission to manufacture clocks was repeatedly disputed, a hired patrol of soldiers caused an armed incident in his workshop; a court decision may even be seen visually in the movement in this musical clock. Although Besck never showed any document proved him to be legally a Master he died as the Alderman of the Fine Smiths Guild and he got support e.g. from the President of Chamber and Commerce Councils, Fabian Wrede.

 

Despite the fact, that the study of this clock is just in the early stages, perhaps the door to courageous work hypothesis may already be opened as to partially understand this artefact. To perform a comprehensive interpretation of this clock most probably many partial (work) interpretations, like the following, must by combined.

 

The re-realization of Hyperborea, where happy Hyperborean sing and dance, would require the promotion of technology and science, which was possible only after the death of Carl XII and the peace. This meant a deep contradictory to the ideals of Carolean Sweden: unquestionable loyalty and obedience to the King, State and God. Impossible choice only between Apollo and Mars?



Dr. Diana Stoert

History of science

University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

 

Goethe’s cabinets as epistemic furniture

 

a PowerPoint presentation by several experts

 

Diana Stoert (science historian, University of Halle) and Katharina Popov-Sellinat (restorer of furniture, Klassik Stiftung Weimar) 

 

Cabinets constitute a collection of things as a closed system. In most cases they organize a large number of objects and – at the same time – allow a fluctuation of objects. Compared to other pieces of furniture, cabinets afford situations, where objects are perceived differently and additional knowledge is gained about the collection, hence they can be named as epistemic furniture. This is not a defined term within the field of decorative arts, but it is used when referring to collection practices.     

 

What can such cabinets and their biographies tell us about collecting practices?  This is the context of our project „Parerga and Paratexts – How Things Enter Language. Practices and Forms of Presentation in Goethe’s Collections.” It is a collaboration project (funded by the BMBF) between the University of Halle and the Klassik Stiftung Weimar, and combines historical research and restorative knowledge. We ask the following questions:  How is such furniture designed and arranged?  To what extent is the code of practice for the cabinets already formulated?  What traces can be read today of how they were actually used? With a praxeological approach, we want to analyze the cabinets as constitutive instruments for dealing with the collection from Goethe’s days till today.

 

Our presentation will consider historical collection practices, with the perspective explicitly taken from the object biography, based on restorative, material-based knowledge and historical sources. Traces of usage and archival sources give information about how the collected objects were furnished in Goethe’s cabinets. These cabinets are one of the most important elements of the museum furnishings for the Goethe National Museum, as they give an original impression of how the world-famous “poet and thinker” lived.  The cabinets were only kept thanks to their storage functionality. This accident of history gives us two silver linings:  Not only does the Goethe House in Weimar have original furniture that belonged to Goethe himself, but science has the chance to explore an ensemble of 60 cabinets from the 18th century and to tell their biography.



Laura Mikkola

Conservation

Osuuskunta Konservointi ja Restaurointi Kollaasi / Cooperative Conservation and Restoration Kollaasi

 

Conservation and long-term preservation of the original furniture of the Finnish Parliament Building

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

This presentation focuses on the lifespan of the original furniture of the Finnish Parliament Building particularly from a perspective of the most recent conservation project. There are over 3000 pieces of original furniture designed and manufactured for the Parliament Building and most of them are still in use and on their original sites. The original furniture was designed and manufactured in Finland in the early 1930’s under strict control by the main architect J.S. Sirén. He personally designed all the main interiors like the Plenary Hall and the Hall of State and chose the contemporary architects and other professionals to design other rooms’ interiors.

 

The Parliament Building was designed as a total work of art and all the pieces of furniture and other small interior details have their meaning as a part of a coherent whole. The interior design is founded on the status of each room and the hierarchy between them. This is represented in the material choices, styles and shapes of the furniture. The rooms with the highest hierarchy level have exclusive materials like curly birch in the empire style furniture of the Hall of State or jacaranda in the Plenary Hall. The more common materials like birch and oak are used in lower level rooms like in the Member of Parliament’s original workrooms which have a practical standard furniture.

 

Most of the original pieces of furniture have been in unchanging use all their lifetime. That has also contributed to the fact that the pieces of furniture are relatively well-preserved. Of course, there has been some furniture changes due to the variable number of employees and Members of Parliament and therefore some replicas have been manufactured through the years and especially in the 1980’s when the previous major renovation project took place. Some furniture has also been stored for varying times and poor storing conditions have caused some damage to some pieces of furniture. The damaged furniture has been repaired on demand in past decades mostly by the Parliament Building’s carpenters. Some larger and specific repairs like reupholstery have been ordered from external companies. Unfortunately, most of the earlier repairs have not been documented at all.

 

The newly finished conservation project of the furniture was a part of the latest renovation project of the Parliament Building that took place between 2015 and 2017. The aim of the conservation project was to keep the original furniture in use as much as possible as well as preserve them in the long term. Among other specialists there were also conservators involved already in the early stage of renovation planning helping to outline goals and principles of the conservation. The main issue outlining the principles was a balancing act between the demands of functionality and conservation ethics of the valuable furniture collection. The pieces of furniture should be usable, working and look presentable. Yet, the original look of the pieces should be preserved and all kind of excessive and unnecessary repair should be avoided. Most of the pieces of furniture had suffered from previous repairs that were carried out with too harsh treatments or irreversible materials.

 

Now when the conservation treatments of the furniture are finished and the furnishings are back in the building, the major concern is the maintenance. Therefore, a long-term care plan and instructions were drawn up and the cleaners and other maintenance personnel of the house were instructed. It has to be accepted that the pieces of furniture are in use so there will occur some wear and tear, but the essential matter is to focus on damage prevention rather than repair. Eventually, it has to be taken into account what will be the final state of the original furniture, what is the point that exceeds the ideal state and when repairing isn’t an option anymore. How many new parts or materials are acceptable and who will make the decisions?



Session 6A: Textile biographies



Museum curator Katja Kålheim

Sociology

Vest-Agder museet/ Tingvatn fornminnepark og besøkssenter, Norway

 

Snartemo textiles - luxury, politics and research

 

a PowerPoint presentation by several experts


Museum curator Katja Kålheim, PhD Krista Vajanto

 

During the Migration period (ca. 400 - 550 AD) a splendid tablet woven band were placed in a chieftain burial in Snartemo tumulus V, in Southern Norway. The elaborately woven, multi-coloured band with geometric and swastika patterns was accompanied other luxury fabrics as well, like fine twill fabrics of clothing. In addition, the burial included a gold-plated ring-hilt sword with geometrical and animal patterns in the handle, a glass beaker, a bronze kettle, a gold ring, bear claws and other curious items.


The visible colours of the band are blue, red, green, yellowish and purplish. Undergoing material have analyses shown, that the tablet woven band was made of special kind of wool. Spinning was made by a spinner master; the dyer very skilled too and able to control several dyeing techniques. Moreover, the weaver had an exceptionally deep understanding for tablet weaving craft. The band was woven with 56 tablets, that enabled to produce 5 cm wide band by using plied, but only 0.5 mm thin yarns. The preservation of the band is excellent, for being that old textile item, but the structure is so complicated that it is still unsure, if the patterns has been solved throughout.

Snartemo band V is clearly a luxury object and would be definitely justified to undergo even more research and be part of archaeological discussion. Parallels for high quality Snartemo textiles are not only in Norway, but in Sweden and Finland too. In general, the Migration period is poorly known in Nordic countries and all new information concerning cultural areas, trade and socio-economical system would be welcome. However, this exceptional textile is not exhibited in any museum. In fact, it seems to be so, that archaeological research has been avoiding Snartemo band V.


The Snartemo site was excavated at the beginning of 1930’s. The archaeological value of the finds was immediately understood, and they were emphasized as “National heritage of Norway”. However, the obvious swastika patterns raised the interest of the Germans and the Snartemo finds were drawn into political play and demanded to be donated to Germany. The band with swastikas and the burial with other splendid items were aimed to be used as evidence of “Aryan race”. After the World War II, the ring-hilted sword has been in exhibition in Kultur Historisk Museet in Oslo, as one of its most famous items. Regrettably, the tablet woven band has remained in the archives. Possibly, the dialogue with the swastika patterned textile object and the audience was estimated to be too difficult.


In our presentation we would like to charge this historical load of the Snartemo band V. Today, all kind of pseudo-information is easy to gain and it is easy to re-join and re-use especially half-knowledge. Especially in modern world it is more and more urgent to share information of archaeological objects without political nuances. Accordingly, we claim the Snartemo band V should be examined in its own cultural context, as all other archaeological items are being examined. We claim out discussion of the placement of the Snartemo V band, and also the replica that is under a production at the moment. Transparency in research making and for example an exhibition of the Migration period might right tools for sharing information.

 


PhD Krista Vajanto

Archaeology

Nanomicroscopy Center Aalto University

 

Story about peacock, unicorn, deer and griffin

 

a PowerPoint presentation by several experts

 

PhD Krista Vajanto - Handcraft specialist Mervi Pasanen - Independent researcher Elina Sojonen


It is unknown, when and why somebody hided a very unique textile in a bell tower of Masku in Southern Finland. Maybe it was an intentionally made hoard or maybe just abandoning of a piece of old handicraft. However, that coverlet was founded at late 19th century and it is probably the largest Finnish medieval textile find, altogether 1.5 x 3 metre in size. Originally it was possibly bigger and used as an antependium in a Catholic church. There are suggestions, that this textile was made by the Bridgettine Sisters in Vallis Gratiae monastery in Naantali around 1440’s AD.

 

The used technique is intarsia, which closest parallels are in Sweden. Thus, the style and inspiration of the coverlet shows knowhow from Sweden from the motherhouse of Bridgettine Order, but the unique seam structures suggest that the textile was stitched in Finland. The textile consists of 8 panels presenting mythological animals, maybe representing some Christian motifs. For example, the griffin can be seen as a symbol of resurrection of Jesus. Each of them being surrounded by a short text written in Latin or Swedish.

 

Predominant materials are fine blue and green broadcloth, close to merino quality. In addition, red, purple, white and yellow broadcloths were used in details. Each seam has been covered with a narrow strip of silver plated leather stitched with silk yarn. Small pieces of cotton fabric were used in some details, adding remarkably to the number of known medieval cotton finds from Finland. This all tells, that most likely none of the materials are of local origin; the wool may be from Central Europe, silk from China and cotton from India.

 

Originally, the textile was one row bigger and possibly bordered. Remains of these are visible in the photographs taken at early 20th century. Nowadays, these rims do not exist anymore – maybe they were removed in the conservation at 1930’s? No reports from that are available, but possibly the textile was then washed and sewn on a supportive fabric.

 

At physical level of the object, we discuss about the materials and condition of the textile. At macro-level, the textile seems to be in a very good condition, but the micro-level shows heavy degradation of fibres.  This all is a result of heavy dyeing and finishing treatment done at the medieval time, long time spent in a hoard, conservation treatment and depositing in a museum.

 

New life for the intarsia textile begun at winter 2017, when a replica of it was exposed at the National museum of Finland. That was made by 16 skilled historic textile enthusiasts. From them, it took 1600 hours to make the textile with eight panels, which clearly shows that the original find cannot be one-man product. During spring and summer 2017 the replica visited in several places, like in the church of Masku and in Aboa Vetus et Nova museum. In that way, the replica provided the audience more or less the same interaction and feeling than the original textile -  that was most likely made to be watched and admired.



Dr Jane Malcolm-Davies

Dress and textile history and archaeology

Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

 

Knitting virtual tribes together: new chapters in object biographies

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

A focused re-analysis of knitted items in museum storage suggests a range of new approaches to researching the cultural biographies of objects and writing new chapters for them. The Knitting in Early Modern Europe (KEME) project examined more than 100 knitted caps held in European and north American museums. The project aims to bring a new scientific approach to the under-researched history of knitting as a textile craft and technology, and to provide a protocol through which knitted objects, which have been silent for too long, can tell their stories.

 

Knitting as a hobby and contemporary craft has experienced a renaissance in recent years. This has generated new interest in its history and a constituency of potential readers for the cultural biographies of archaeological and historical knitted objects. These biographies are largely unwritten and in many cases confused. Knitware has, somewhat surprisingly, lacked a language in which to tell its tale. Unlike woven fabrics for which there is an agreed protocol to record their current condition and construction, knitted objects (if they are reported at all) are described in a contradictory collection of craft conventions (which are not agreed across geographical or cultural boundaries) and assumptions about how they were brought into being. A key outcome of KEME was to propose a terminology and protocol for reporting knitware.

 

The knitted caps in the KEME project are, for the most part, a forgotten collection of objects, which have lain in relative obscurity until the recent past. Very few have been on display and those that are have contextual information which merely hints at their complex biographies. Despite this astonishing quantity of rare evidence for lower-class dress, it has never before been systematically studied as a collection – partly because of its far-flung locations, which range from Copenhagen to Croatia. Viewed now as a “family” of objects, their individual biographies have taken on novel and exciting interpretations. Knitted caps emerge as aspirational headwear (for ordinary people prohibited by sumptuary law from wearing velvet and quality furs) and as signifiers of wisdom (among scholars, theologians and other academics – including, rather surprisingly, schoolboys).

 

New chapters in these knitted objects’ biographies are also being written using innovative research methodologies. Scientific analyses more usually applied to archaeological material (such as scanning electron microscopy) have revealed the sophistication of the raw materials required to make them. The fleece must not only be suitable for spinning into yarn but also capable of fulling, napping and shearing to a silky pile. Thus, the cultural biography of a knitted cap begins with the sheep which provides the wool and even where and on what it grazed.

 

Attempts at reconstruction using methodologies drawn from experimental archaeology have provided clear evidence of the complexity of the processes required to turn fleece into aspirational faux fur or mock velvet. The technological processes of fulling and napping were achieved with a range of agents (including soap and a specific species of teasel) and the application of significant effort (using human and water power). Dyeing with several plant and mineral resources added another level of expertise to the finished product with different guilds being responsible for the red and blue colours. The knitted cap had a challenging life before it reached the artisan’s shop and then the wardrobe of one of “the youthful citizens who took them to the new fashion of flat caps, knit of woollen yarn black” (John Stow’s Chronicles, 1565).

 

These objects suffered a range of fates after their lives as garments. They were shipwrecked, deliberately concealed, preserved in bogs, or discarded as beyond use before being unearthed by construction work in cities, during building renovations or excavation of the sea bed. Then followed their accession into museums, gentle or ruinous conservation and long-term storage – all of which left scars on the knitted fabric.

 

But their adventures to do not end there. A range of audiences was invited to engage with the knitted caps as investigators in a Citizen Science project and as commentators on the evidence via an interactive online database. Social media have created the opportunity for the knitted caps to continue their lives into the future as dynamic cultural objects as new and different people engage with them, reconstruct them and reinterpret them for their own purposes.

 

The KEME project has generated the possibility for mute objects lying in the dark drawers of museum storage to have multiple vibrant new lives among diverse communities well beyond their geographical and traditional cultural communities. This paper explores how cultural biographies can be set free to change and grow without the need for physical examination or public presentation of the objects.



Session 6B: Real and imagined bodies



PhD Riina Rammo

Archaeology

Department of Archaeology, University of Tartu, Estonia

 

Rabivere bog body revisited – old finds, new stories?

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

Riina Rammo, presenting author - Pikne Kama, PhD, Valga Museum, Estonia

The Rabivere bog body was found from north Estonia in 1936 in the course of peat-cutting. On the basis of the Swedish coin from the year 1667 found with the body, the find has been dated to the end of the 17th century. The fully clothed body of a woman has remained the only bog body known from Estonia so far. The body itself was reburied after brief examination, but well preserved clothing items, coin, and small brooch has been stored in Estonian National Museum. As these finds were meant to be part of the new exhibition of the museum (opened since 2016), it was possibility to re-examine the unique find. Using the word “biography” as a metaphor directly refers to the stages of human life from birth to death. In the case of archaeological objects, it is not always possible to create a full life trajectory or biography of one object, group of objects or a person. Nevertheless, it is still possible to get closer at least to some moments of a biography. Combining various sources – the preserved finds and their study with scientific methods, few archival sources, place lore, newspapers’ stories contemporaneous to the discovery – a new study can still reveal new knowledge about an old find and give us clearer picture about the woman’s life and death. The presentation will focus foremost on the study of garments, which definitely are worn-out and reveal traces of various life stages or a biography of their own. What can the collected clothing items tell us about life of buried woman at the moment of her death?



Professor Taina Syrjämaa

History

University of Turku

 

Long lives – Ethnographic mannequins’ intersecting routes with humans, objects and places (1876-)

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

Human-size ethnographic mannequins were a novel museum technology in the late 19th century. In Finland, the new technology was adopted relatively early: the mannequins displayed in cottage dioramas were one of the most acclaimed eye-catchers of the first Finnish national industrial exhibition in Helsinki in 1876. They were constructed following the example set by Swedish ethnographic displays in the Paris 1867 and Vienna 1873 great exhibitions and the dioramas of the recently opened Hazelian collection in Stockholm.

 

The mannequins were hybrids of human and non-human substance as in them human appearances and countenances merged with straw and plaster. They represented different regions not only by wearing garments collected in the respective provinces but also by borrowing the physical features and postures of local people photographed for this purpose.

 

Some of the 1876 mannequins still exist and can be identified with certainty. During their long lives, they have belonged to both temporary displays and permanent collections and they have been exhibited not only in Finland but also abroad (e.g. Paris 1878, Moscow 1882). For a long time they were classified as display instruments whilst their garments and utensils were the proper museum pieces. At the turn of the millennium the surviving mannequins were registered as museum objects, restored and placed in the central depot of the national museum. In the meanwhile their “successors” still continue to be displayed.

 

The biographical approach and the long time span make dynamicity and hybridity of objects visible and analysable. In this case study, I will focus on the most essential transfers and relocations during their long lifespan and examine how they have interacted with other objects as well as with humans. I will ponder over how the borders such as human vs. object and display instrument vs. museum piece have been crossed – or zigzagged. The analysis is based on the examination of the objects (mannequins, other objects belonging to the cottage dioramas), written commentaries, correspondence, photographs and interviews of the museum staff.



June Rowe

Fashion and design history

University of the Arts, London, U.K.

 

A Silent History: Narratives of the Fashion Display Mannequin

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

The display mannequin exists as a visual and cultural facsimile of the fashionable body and throughout its history it is primarily associated with its representations of the female form. Yet its presence as an object of cultural significance remains peripheral in fashion and design scholarship. In archives, the mannequin’s provenance is rarely marked and its forms remain hidden in museum basements as anonymous cultural artefacts. The paper focuses on a material culture study of the fashion display mannequin drawing on research for a PhD thesis which situates the display mannequin as a primary artefact. It is an enquiry that examines shifts in materiality, design authorship and concepts of beauty illustrating the significance of the mannequin as an object in public spaces and as a cultural site for the female gaze and fashionable display. As an artefact of historical and contemporary female ideals, the fashion mannequin occupies a unique position as a three-dimensional object produced for a female audience.

 

The paper draws on the approaches used to assess the display mannequin’s position in fashion history by examining the object and its representations from museum stores, archives and textual sources. Much of the primary research gathered is also interview based revealing the contemporaneous and cyclical relationship between the mannequin, the fashion garment and feminine representation.

 

Within this framework the paper engages with a range of discourses and research perspectives which reveal the mannequin as a cultural artefact and contemporary form. What emerges is as much an ontological study as a materialist one, at the centre of which is the question of how an object may be narrated as a metaphorical construction and a fashionable cultural form: weighing up its historicity, the trace of its existence as an artefact and fetishized embodiment and as a tool within the fashion industry cycle.

 

The questions exemplify aspects of the work of scholars such as Jules Prown, on diachronic and synchronic investigations, Caroline Evans on the convergences between the body, fashion practice, and visual technologies and equally the words of Umberto Eco on how the knowable conditions of beauty and its transitory images may be evaluated within a specific era and its social mores. It is these intersections and their applications in the research process which are explored in the paper to reveal both the tangible and intangible meanings of the display mannequin as an artefact of fashion and feminine ideals, equally revealing an unknown narrative of designers, sculptors and artisans of these uncatalogued figures.



Session 6C: Curious objects



Ph.D. Hanna Kemppi

Art History

University of Helsinki

 

The Biography of Tracings and Transfers: The Rissanen Collection in the National Library of Finland

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

The presentation aims to discuss my ongoing art historical research of a collection, which includes drawings and graphics but mainly consists of icon designs (called prorisi / tracings and perevody / transfers) created by Russian icon painters in the first half of the 19th century. The collection was donated to the Slavic Library of the National Library of Finland in 1955 by Bertha Rissanen. The earlier unexplored collection includes more than 150 icon designs.

 

Tracings and transfers are examples of a specific genre of graphic art, which preserves and disseminates  the outlines of a valued and venerated icon. Ideally, they represent a very precise reproduction of an icon composition on paper and can be transferred to a new wooden panel. Thus icon designs have been an important tool or a handbook for icon painters. Furthermore, they are objects, which have their own historical and artistic values. They have been collected by antiquarians and art historians already in the 19th century, but have reached an increasing interest of art historical research in Russia only quite recently, since the perestroika era onwards.

 

This presentation address to the questions of the provenance of the collection: the background of its formation and its present existence in Finland. The material is of Russian origin but it has been totally unknown how, when and why it became a property of Aaro Rissanen (1877–1949), who is a complete stranger in the field of art collections. Nevertheless, I propose a hypothesis that the collection which at first seems to be heterogeneous forms a whole and links to a famous Russian noble family.



Master of Science (Eng.) Kaisa Kyläkoski

History

 

Clicker - fashionable object of 1876

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

Clickers are today mainly used for training animals. Their claim to fame is World War II where clickers were used for covert signalling. But the biography of clicker began in 1876, when Charles-Jacques Rossignol invented it as ""wonderful castanets"" and started industrial production.

 

This item became then an example of the viral culture of the 19th century. Within a couple of months an invention and a fashion moved from Paris to Pori and Savonlinna on the other side of Europe.

 

The presentation focuses on the speed of the fashion and its spread across Europe. Using newspapers and magazines as sources also the various ways clickers were used is discussed.



Conservator Riina Uosukainen

Object conservation

 

Case Study on conservation of the Moomin Tableaux

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

This presentation will be a brief overview to the project where about 30 Moomin Tableaux were conservated for the new Moomin Museum that opened up in Tampere in Summer 2017. The Tableaux are three-dimensional, composite objects that were created during 1958-1990 based on Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories. The Tableaux were made by Jansson’s life companion Tuulikki Pietilä in cooperation with Jansson herself and their many friends and family members. The Tableaux are part of Tampere Art Museum’s collection consisting of Jansson’s artwork. The smallest of the Tableaux is ‘Suuri Simpukka’, sized about 40 x 50 cm and the biggest is Moomin House sized about two and a half metres tall and two metres wide.

 

Conservation work was executed by two conservators, in roughly two years time period. Most frequent conservation treatments were cleaning, gluing and retouching. The Tableaux had their own specific challenges as many of them were infested by insects since they included animal furs and other materials that attract pest insects. Planning conservation for composite objects is always tricky, also in this case. Most of the Tableaux are made mainly of polystyrene which set a lot of limitations to what can be done to them on conservator’s table. But Pietilä and Jansson never thought about creating them to be exhibited in a museum and preserved as a part of museum collection. They wanted to have fun and create the Tableaux as a sort of grown-up’s play, amusement for Saturday night and Summers on the island of Klovharu.

 

Along with conservation project of the Tableaux, the vast material bank of Jansson and Pietilä was researched. They left 61 boxes of materials and tools that were used to built up the Tableaux. This so called ‘Paraphernalia’ was huge help to conservators examining what kind of materials they used, how did they built the Tableaux and little creatures in them, and also some materials could be used in the conservation.

 

Biographies of the Tableaux consist of many different stages, from the creation all the way up to this point when they are exhibited in a museum solely made for Moomin stories. The remaining lifespan of the Tableaux is impossible to know precisely. The question with them is, are they still telling the story they were made to represent, and what is the point where their condition is worsened so the tale they tell is somehow skewed? It can be also questioned, has Paraphernalia, the material bank, changed its status from being mere ‘boxes of stuff’ into being an official museum collection. All the Tableaux were also 3D-scanned before the conservation project and the 3D-models create brand new possibilities regarding their future conservation and exhibitioning them.



Session 6D: Archaeological insights 2



PhD Heidi Luik

Archaeology

Tallinn University, Archaeological Research Collection, Estonia

 

Reused bracelets at the hillfort of Valjala in Saaremaa, Estonia

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

Sixteen fragments of bracelets have been found at the hillfort of Valjala in Saaremaa during the excavations in 1962–1964. Altogether ten fragments of spiral bracelets, three fragments of bracelets twisted of three wires, two fragments of thin bronze bracelets and one fragmentary silver bracelet with a midrib have been found. Some of these fragments may originate from the same bracelets. Eight bracelet fragments have been reused. A fragment of a bracelet twisted of three wires has been coiled into a ring. One piece of a thin bracelet has been pressed flat and holes for rivets have been made into it – probably it has been used as a decorative plaque. The other thin bracelet has one edge cut off and presumably used for mending some other item. Two fragments of spiral bracelets have been coiled into finger rings, one piece has been bent into oval loop and another into S-shaped clasp. The most uncommon item is tweezers made also from broken spiral bracelet.

 

Reused bracelets are known also at other sites in Estonia. Bracelets have been made for example into finger rings, clasps and belt ends. Broken bracelets have been mended, and sometimes a piece of another bracelet has been used as a patch. Unusual in the case of the hillfort of Valjala is that even half of found bracelet fragments have been reused.

 

What was the reason for the reuse of the bracelets? A bracelet made from thin metal sheet could broke easily and a spiral bracelet could be deformed. One possibility to reuse broken bronze and silver ornaments was to remelt them, but sometimes an alternative choice was made. From a bracelet made from thin metal sheet a suitable piece for a patch for mending some other item could be obtained. Fragments of spiral bracelet have shape of narrow strip which suites easily for making several objects. Who were these people who reused broken bracelets? In some cases bracelets have been mended quite professionally by soldering their pieces together, probably by a jeweler. Some bracelets have been repaired in primitive ways so that the fragments are joined with rivets or wires. Sometimes probably the owner of the broken artefact (or someone who found it) has tried to reuse it, bending the remaining piece into a ring or a clasp, or something else. At the hillfort of Valjala five out of eight reused fragments probably come from the same spiral bracelet. Perhaps these fragments were reworked also by a single person who tried to find a new sphere of use for the parts of this broken ornament.



Arvi Haak

Archaeology

Tartu City Museum, Estonia


Corals, pelicans and lions: three 13th-14th century enamelled beakers from Viljandi and Tartu


a PowerPoint presentation by one expert


Since 1985, fragments of several 13th-14th century enamelled glass beakers have been excavated in the south Estonian medieval town Tartu, which have been described by A. Mäesalu, and since 2003, a few also in the castle and town of Viljandi, ca 75 km from Tartu. Analyses if these objects have convincingly shown that these belong to a group of glass vessels distributed over most of Europe, but produced most likely in Venice/Murano. Besides traditional transparent beakers, a blue vessel has been found from Viljandi castle. With the help of scientific analyses of the glass mass and composition of the enamels, art historical consideration, traditional archaeological methods, distribution analysis, etc., new information has been established on the life span of these objects.


The presentation will focus on the investigation of three vessels with different decoration patterns:

1) A blue beaker with decoration consisting of boxes filled with coral motif, excavated in Viljandi;

2) A transparent beaker depicting a pelican from Tartu;

3) Another transparent beaker from Tartu, with the decoration depicting lions.


In spite the fact that all three vessels belong to a particular group of enamelled beakers, and most likely were produced in the same area (Venice/Murano), considerable differences can also be traced between these beakers. In the presentation, with a brief introduction on the state of research on these vessels, we focus on the production, usage, and discarding stages in the biography of these beakers. Existing information, combined with pieces of additional data, may lead to significantly altered understanding of these processes. The aim of the discussion is to elucidate, to which extent we can trace actual workshops that made these vessels. Regarding their later life histories, special attention will be paid on the discarding stage of the broken vessels. A brief analysis of the stratigraphic situation and connected finds will be followed by considerations regarding issues of conservation, and the later career of these vessels as museum exhibits.



PhD-Student/ MA Elina Terävä

Archaeology 

University of Helsinki

 

Researching the material culture of the medieval castle of Raseborg - collaboration between archaeologists and conservators revealing the biographies of found metal objects

 

a PowerPoint presentation by one expert

 

From the end of the 14th century to the middle of the 16th century, the castle of Raseborg was the administrative center of the Province of Western Nyland (Fi. Uusimaa) in Finland. The ruins and surroundings of the castle have been under research since 1890s and the latest excavations were done in 2017. During the restauration works and archaeological excavations within these 127 years, a rich and diverse find material has been collected. These finds offer a nice possibility to research the material culture of the castle.

 

The older finds from Raseborg are problematic for further research because of the poor condition of some finds and the lack of information about their find contexts. But the material collected inside the castle and from Slottsmalmen –an activity area on the east side of the castle - during the research projects in 2014-2017 offer material of high potential for further research. The finds include lots of metal objects, ceramics, glass, bone objects etc. related to the everyday life in the castle.

 

What comes to the metal and bone objects found during the most recent excavations, the collaboration between archeologist and conservators has been very intensive. All metal and bone finds have been x-rayed and the most important finds conservated. During the conservation-process x-ray photos as well as the finds themselves have been examined together with the conservators and researchers. Included to this, also one traditional smith, specialized to making iron objects like arrowheads and shooting with crossbows, has been viewing the finds together with conservators and the researchers. This has been done to find out important details revealing data about the function, structure and the process of manufacture of these objects. The collaboration has been proven to be very fruitful. For example new details related to making crossbow bolts have been revealed - these small marks are not visible in the older material collected from Raseborg.

 

It is not easy to figure out of the biographies of fragmentary finds. However, precise examination of the objects together with archeologists, who know the context of the finds, conservators, who know the materials, and other specialists, who know the production process and the use of the objects reveals much more information. If we are lucky, even the life-span of the objects can be researched this way at least at some level.



 
 
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