The Visa Process


Over the last year, I’ve visited 14 countries and I’ve learned that every country has its own distinctive process for entry–and Russia is no exception.  I’ve just made my way through the Russian process here in the United States and Katrin has done the same in Germany.  We thought it might be helpful if we shared what we learned along the way.  In either country, if you’re reading it now, get going!  The best thing you can do is submit it in a timely fashion, saving that panicky feeling as your trip approaches. Continue reading

Nimble and Responsive Exhibitions

20120918-tje5c86b67p2qdwfguqh44kcxuThe Exhibitionist, the journal of the National Association for Museum Exhibition,  invites proposals for its Spring 2015 issue, “The Nimble and Responsive Exhibition.” Proposals of 250 words maximum are due by September 3, 2014.

For the Call for Papers and details on how to submit a proposal, please go to the “News” page of the NAME website.  Or, you can find a Word.doc version of the Call here.

Please consider submitting a proposal–and spread the word to your friends and colleagues around the world.

Image:  Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History Pop-Up label

Мягкая сила музыкальной культуры России – The Soft power of Russian culture of music



Michail Bryzgalov, director of the State Glinka Museum in Moscow, will present a session at the conference exploring what museums of musician culture and politics have in common. Since politicians are using increasingly „soft power“ – culture, political ideology and foreign affairs – as means for reaching political aims, museums also can benefit from this concept as the author will demonstrate by presenting projects and concrete examples out of the Russian museum association for music culture.

Термин «мягкая сила» введенный американским политологом Джозефов Найем в 80-е годы прошлого столетия сравнительно недавно стал применяться в качестве главенствующих теорий во внешней политике и дипломатии Российской Федерации, потеснив методы военных и экономических мощностей, а именно «жесткой силы»: “Продолжаем активную целенаправленную работу по совершенствованию и модернизации инструментария внешней политики для более эффективного использования современных средств реализации внешнеполитических приоритетов, включая экономическую дипломатию, задействование возможностей «мягкой силы», информационное сопровождение международной деятельности” – из выступления Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в рамках «правительственного часа» в Совете Федерации Федерального Собрания Российской Федерации, Москва, 18 декабря 2013 года.

Как мы видим, все чаще российская политика и дипломатия использует «мягкую силу» для достижения желаемых результатов. По теории Дж. Ная данный термин характеризуется тремя основными компонентами: культурой, политической идеологией и внешней политикой. И недаром такое понятие как «культура» стоит на первом месте. Continue reading

Do Museums Need Disaster Plans for People?

Cross-posted from The Uncataloged Museum.

Any museum worth its salt has a disaster plan somewhere (hopefully somewhere easy to find).  It probably has information about contacting emergency services;  what happens to objects in collections storage and the safe evacuation of staff and visitors.  But over the last year, I’ve been paying attention to a number of conversations, in person and in the online world, about the ways we, as museums, can be more responsive to community needs in times of disaster.

I watched my colleagues in Ukraine step up during the protests on Maidan and the country’s ongoing changes;  Gretchen Jennings has focused on empathetic museums in her blog Museum CommonsElaine Gurian’s writings continue to inspire; my colleague and friend Rainey Tisdale curated this year’s Dear Boston exhibit on the anniversary of the bombing; and David Fleming’s talk on the Social Justice Alliance of Museums at AAM provided new inspiration. All evidence of a more people-focused shift for museums. But much of it seems ad hoc.  Committed folks in museums react on the fly as disasters–political, social, natural, environmental–happen. Continue reading

Drawing a Blank – Ukraine’s Maidan Protests and Manifesta



The European art biennial Manifesta is hosted by St. Petersburg this year. Until the 31st of October the Hermitage presents works of international contemporary artists, curated by Kaspar König. His choice of this year’s place had been strongly criticized and the beginning of the Ukraine crisis has continued to aggravate this debate.The American artist Sean Snyder and the Ukrainian cultural scientist and professor of Cultural Studies at the national University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Olga Bryukhovetska, reflect on the Manifesta and the power of contemporary art in the light of the Kiever Majdan protests. The text was published first in the magazine of contemporary art and culture „frieze“ no 164 (June, July, August, 2014).

‘It is by refusing to turn Russian money into cultural capital that we can get the point across that Putin’s policies are beyond the pale,’ wrote Jonathan Jones in a Guardian blog entry entitled ‘Let’s Hit Putin where It Hurts – All Artists Must Boycott Russia’, posted in early April. In fact, by that point, discussions around a boycott of the Kasper König-curated Manifesta 10 – slated to take place in Saint Petersburg from 28 June to 31 October – had been ongoing for several months, initially prompted by the Russian authorities’ oppression of dissidents and lgbt rights activists, and subsequently fuelled by events in Ukraine, with Russia punishing the country for the democratic victory gained during the recent Maidan protests in Kyiv. While the Polish artist Paweł Althamer, the Romanian artist Dan Perjovschi and the Saint Petersburg-based collective Chto Delat? have already declined to participate, the evolving situation in Ukraine compels everyone involved in Manifesta 10 to take a stance on whether or not to collaborate with Russia’s rich and powerful.

The word maidan – square – has come to define a revolutionary, self-organized people defending their rights. Since 1989, when students demanding Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union occupied Maidan, major protests have always taken place here. In a bid to inhibit mass protest, the square’s lavish open spaces – typical of late-Soviet design – were remodelled in the early 2000s: kitschy sculptures were installed and glass domes rose up from the new underground shopping mall, impeding movement. These precautionary measures failed dramatically, however, when allegations that the election of the country’s Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych, had been corrupt resulted in the Orange Revolution of November 2004.

The latest Maidan protests, which began on 21 November 2013, saw the site reconfigured as a stronghold for protesters, who occupied the square with tents and tyre barricades. Art was a significant presence from the outset, with students from the nearby Kyiv Conservatory carrying a piano into the square and playing Chopin for the crowd despite freezing temperatures. The protestors, a number of whom were artists, designed posters, painted helmets and graffitied slogans around the square. Continue reading

Coming to St. Petersburg?

Makhayev,_Kachalov_-_View_of_Neva_Downstream_between_Winter_Palace_and_Academy_of_Sciences_1753_(right)If you’re coming to St. Petersburg for the first time (like me), it’s great to get an introduction to some of the basics.  Amy Ballard, Senior Historic Preservation Specialist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC shares her longtime passion for the city in today’s blog post.  We hope it inspires you as plan for the trip. LN.

I’ve been traveling to Russia since 1973 and there’s one place I keep returning to and that’s St. Petersburg. Every time I go I discover something new and I hope you will love it as much as I do. Here are just a few tips that may help!

About money: you can’t get rubles before arriving in Russia, but ATMs are prevalent and easy to use with instructions in English. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted most places. If you plan to bring US$, make sure the bills are new.

Although we have a full schedule, one needs to eat! And St. Petersburg is full of wonderful coffee shops (yes, there’s even a Starbucks), restaurants featuring every type of cuisine (with Russian and English menus), and fast food from McDonalds to Carl Jrs to name a few).  If you’re in the mood for Russian food, look no further than Russian Vodka Museum. Actually it’s a restaurant with a museum dedicated to the history of vodka. It’s next door to the Stroganoff Steak House, and a long-time St. Petersburg resident owns them both. They’re a short walk from the Hermitage, and St. Isaacs Square.

Any restaurant with the name “Ginza Group” is a sure bet for good food. The Ginza Group owns the “Mari Vanna” chain of Russian restaurants that are in London, New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. There’s one in St. Petersburg too.

Speaking of fast food, there’s the delicious Russian chain Teremok, where you can have a tasty meal of borscht  (beet and beef soup) and blini (Russian pancake with filling). Teremok features every kind of blini and is a good place for vegetarians. Another chain in town is Stolle. The decor is reminiscent of an early 20th century café with historic photos of the city on the wall. Stolle features pies of all kinds: cabbage, meat, fish, vegetables, and delicious berry pies for dessert.  There’s one close to the Hermitage on Nevsky Prospect (the 5th Avenue of Petersburg).

Continue reading


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