Sounds like National Trust bosses are still seeking to push through cutting the two curatorial jobs at @AveburyNT—downgrading the curator role & cutting 2 FTE to 0.5. This’d be sheer vandalism at Britain’s best small archaeology museum, a collection gifted to the nation in 1966.
Letters sent by the leading @StoneAveWHS archaeologists last month—and the museum’s Advisory Board—haven’t yet led to action. The Trust has cared for the Keiller Museum for 26 years so far in its 82 years—it is a key element of the visits made by 250,000 people a year to Avebury.
Trust bosses seem committed to cuts in curatorship, archaeology & education—Apart from 'Treasure Houses' where they're creating new Property Curators due to the significance of the properties. World Heritage Site status clearly doesn’t tick this box—due to free public access?
The presence of a full-time Curatorial team, with specialist knowledge of prehistory and the archaeology of the WHS, has proved essential in developing research and public understanding of the monuments that form the core of the Avebury NT estate.
Research on the Keiller museum collections has been at the heart of some of the most influential research projects on British prehistory in recent years: from Whittle’s re-assessment of the Keiller excavations at Windmill Hill to Parker-Pearson’s Beaker People project.
If the cuts go ahead, key aspects of the recent @HistoricEngland Research Framework for the Stonehenge Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site could simply not be implemented and current research projects (eg “Living with Monuments” Project) would be severely compromised
Research at the Keiller Museum isn’t just an academic concern. There’s huge public interest in the results of such work. Part of the NT’s function is as a research organisation, as reflected in its IRO status. Research draws visitors and revenue to Avebury impact.ref.ac.uk/casestudies/Ca…
Quite apart from breaching the stipulation of the original 1966 Keiller bequest to the nation, a lower grade part-time post would fail to provide much more than routine visitor management—without new research programmes, without effective education and public outreach.
The proposals would also go against the Trust’s own claim in July, that it will "refocus efforts to protect cultural heritage, with limits on cuts to staff caring for houses, gardens and collections" nationaltrust.org.uk/news/our-spend…
The decision hasn’t yet been made but may be imminent. The global archaeology community would be scandalised by any such cuts at the heart of this most loved prehistoric landscape. Trust bosses must rethink & use some of that £1.47 billion to save these roles & others like them.
Just a final bit of context, so we keep this in proportion >>
Will @archaeologyuk and @InstituteArch be expressing a view on this news from Avebury?

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More from @profdanhicks

17 Nov
My new interim report on what we currently know about the Benin collections of the University of Oxford has just been published online - read it here >> prm.ox.ac.uk/benin-bronzes
the 229-page report summarises
- 145 objects which provenance research suggests were looted in the Benin 1897 attack
- 15 further objects possibly from that attack
- more items taken in other expeditions in what's today Nigeria
- further Benin objects exported in the 20th century
here are some of those @Pitt_Rivers objects in a thread

1/ Carved ivory tusk burnt in the fires during the desecration of Benin city
Read 60 tweets
28 Oct
it's been a very busy week for the return of looted objects from France to Bénin 🇧🇯 and from the UK to Benin City, Nigeria🇳🇬

here's a summary of what's been going on (THREAD) 👇
1/ a "farewell exhibition" is being held at the @quaibranly
displaying the 26 items of the Trésor de Béhanzin, looted from the Abomey Palace in the Kingdom of Dahomey in 1892—which will be returned to Cotonou next month
The exhibit is open till Sunday quaibranly.fr/fr/expositions…
2/ a major conference was held to mark this landmark return, with speeches from many of the key players including Prof @FelwineSarr and Prof Bénédicte Savoy @KuK_TUBerlin — who compared this watershed moment to the fall of the Berlin Wall: "there was before, and there was after"
Read 10 tweets
26 Oct
the Trésor de Béhanzin—looted by General Alfred Dodds in November 1892 from the Palace of Abomey, and donated by him to the French state—is being returned from Paris to Bénin

here’s a shortlist thread of some of the 26 items involved:

1/ the Throne of King Ghézo
2/ The Throne of King Glèlè
3/ the doors of the Royal Palace of Abomey
Read 9 tweets
26 Oct
just catching up with the Policy Exchange “History Matters Principles for Change” culture war manifesto, and 60 seconds in my first observation is that “the UK’s leading think tank” appears not to understand the difference between English Heritage and Historic England
also direct contravention of @MuseumsAssoc ethical guidelines on donors and curatorial integrity here
it will also surprise Oxbridge Governing Bodies that Policy Exchange think that the university’s Vice Chancellor might be a “stakeholder” in their decision-making — while evidently elected student bodies, alumni, unions, the wider public, etc may not be
Read 4 tweets
20 Oct
✨ the paperback edition of #BrutishMuseums is officially published today, with a new preface and an updated list of museums holding Benin Bronzes! ✨
there are quite a few made-up words and concepts in the book, so to mark the day here are seven of them in a thread 👇
1/ Chronopolitics
the use of time as a mode of colonial domination, including the weaponisation of the discipline of Archaeology #BrutishMuseums
2/ Necrography
An account of death and loss. A death-history. An anti-biography. When applied to material culture, an alternative to the tired idiom 'the social life of things' or 'the cultural biography of objects' #BrutishMuseums
Read 10 tweets
19 Oct
the case of @tamaralanier vs @peabodymuseum is a landmark moment for museum ethics

here is the submission my colleague @nickmirzoeff and I have written in support of Tamara’s case against Harvard—to see these images of her ancestors returned to her

>> ma-appellatecourts.org/pdf/SJC-13138/…
here is some background to the case theguardian.com/education/2019…
here is @thecrimson’s report on the verdict last March thecrimson.com/article/2021/3…
Read 4 tweets

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