2018-2021—Online curatorial training program and workshop in Kyoto/Tokyo
In With the valuable support and partnership of the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, an online training program was developed in 2017/2018. Following the 2017 discussions, in April 2018, a meeting was held in Vienna with the participation of colleagues from the University of Vienna, Austrian Academy of Sciences, and Dr. Masanori Nagaoka and Dr. Maria Rita Acetoso from the UNESCO Culture Unit (Kabul Office) to plan the new training program (financed by the GHS). The hybrid meeting included virtual discussion with Director Rahimi. Critical to the discussion was how the museum should handle the Mes Aynak objects entering the collection which were excavated during salvage archaeology and thus lacked a secure stratigraphic context. A “Palmyra Talk” focused on the World Heritage Site of Bamiyan and the protection of Afghan cultural heritage was hosted by the Austrian Academy of Sciences in cooperation with ICOM Österreich.
The new curatorial training program focused on the art history of Afghanistan (with an emphasis on Buddhist art) and museum studies, and was instructed by Dr. Natasha Kimmet and directed by Klimburg-Salter. Concurrently, four curators continued their English courses at the American University of Afghanistan.
The online training program was successful beyond our expectations and culminated in an engaging two-week training workshop in Japan in December 2019 with the collaboration of premier research institutions in Kyoto and Tokyo. Emphasis was placed on training in the use of proper research methods, particularly critical examination and evaluation of original objects at Kyoto University (hosting institution), the Ryukoku Museum, the Miho Museum, and Tokyo University of the Arts. The financial support for this bilateral project was provided by Kyoto University’s Institute for Research in Humanities and the Gerda Henkel Stiftung’s Funding Initiative “Patrimonies.”
The collaborative workshop proved highly successful because of the quality of the participants—it brought Director Rahimi and three curators together with extremely committed international experts in art history, archaeology, history, numismatics, and conservation science. Of great value was the fact that the curators took the initiative to share the benefits of this training with other curators in Kabul. The effectiveness of this workshop further confirms the value and importance of ongoing investment in their education and professional networking.
The 2020 online training program continued to focus on art history and museum studies. From fall 2020 through 2021, frequent object study sessions have been held online to better understand and describe artifacts, and to address the issue of identifying authentic versus fake objects. Dr. Susanne Ebbinghaus, Curator at the Harvard Art Museums, joined Klimburg-Salter and Kimmet in leading these sessions, and six members of the Kabul Museum curatorial team are now participating.
A new planned cooperation with the Harvard Art Museums (pending financing) is intended to expand and complement the existing University of Vienna – National Museum of Afghanistan program; if circumstances permit, the program foresees ongoing bi-monthly online study sessions throughout 2022, complemented by an intensive workshop anticipated to take place at the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University in April-May 2022.
KMP-Report Online Curatorial Workshop 2020 (hosted on the website of the Gerda Henkel Stiftung)