Monday, March 2, 2009 - 5:00am - 6:00am
Recital Hall 12:00 noon March 2, 2009
Museums and the Sacred: Engaging with the “Other”
The first part of this paper will chronicle thirty years of changing attitudes,
and approaches, to treating spiritual issues (“the other”) in the
conservation of heritage places, the restoration of monuments, and also
collecting and exhibiting artifacts and art in western Canada. A series of
case studies will provide a critical perspective. These range from conserving
the abandoned Haida village of Ninstints, Haida Gwaii, to restoring North
America’s oldest synagogue in Victoria, British Columbia; from the
pioneering First Nations exhibits developed at the Royal British Columbia
Museum to a current exhibition of the contemporary shaman artist,
Norval Morrisseau, at the University of Victoria.
The second part will attempt to contextualize this experience within the
current work of the Commonwealth Association of Museums, in particular
its global focus on the role cultural institutions in strengthening civil
society. Relevant to this dialogue is the Commonwealth Foundation’s recent
international dialogue: “Engaging with Faith”, and the series of world
museum conferences organized by CAM variously addressing how museums
in contemporary society deal with fundamental issues such as alleviating
poverty, promoting peace, democracy and good governance, celebrating
cultural diversity, supporting freedom of belief and defending pluralism.
The paper will conclude with a personal reflection on future directions, and
some possible lines of enquiry, that might assist museums and heritage
institutions in accepting, and adapting to, the new reality of cultural
pluralism of which faith based societal values are an essential part.
Martin Segger, B.A., Dip.Ed., M.Phil., F.R.S.A., F.C.M.A is Director, Community Relations, UVic, and director of the University Centre Museum and Auditorium complex; Adjunct Professor for Renaissance Studies and Museum Studies in the Faculty of Fine Arts; and academic advisor to for the Cultural Resources Management Programme. In November 1987 and 1990 he was elected to serve three-year terms as Alderman, City of Victoria, was a 12 year appointee to the Provincial Capital Commission, and continues serving on the Victoria Harbour Authority. His special area of administrative expertise is arts and heritage management
Prof. Segger holds an honours B.A. in English Literature and a Diploma of Education (Secondary Curriculum) from the University of Victoria, and a Master of Philosophy in Renaissance Cultural Studies from the Warburg Institute, University of London. In 1982 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and 1999 a Fellow of the Canadian Museums Association.
Since 1985 he has co-directed the course, Integrated Studies in Heritage Conservation, in co-operation with the University of Zagreb at the Interuniversity Centre, Dubrovnik. He has been active on the boards of the UNESCO organizations, International Council for the Conservation of Monuments and Sites – Canada, and the International Council of Museums – Canada, and has just finished a term as chair of the International Committee for the Training of Museum Personnel and is currently President, Commonwealth Association of Museums.
Dr. A. Welch and Prof. Segger are currently undertaking and 19th Century colonial architectural history research project in Calcutta, India, with SSHRC support and he directs a 1.2 million SSHRC Community University Research Alliance project at UVic.
Academic contributions have been focused in two main areas:
Victoria, An Architectural History (1979)
The British Columbia Parliament Buildings (ed. 1979)t
This Old House (1982) and This Old Town (1984): two conservation reports for the City of Victoria:
Proceedings of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada (1975-78, editor
Vice-Regal Mansions of British Columbia (1982) Editor of this posthumous book by P. Cotton
An Architectural Guide to British Columbia (in preparation)
West Coast Review (Editorial Board member)
The Buildings of Samuel Maclure: In Search of Appropriate Form (1986).
Training of Museum Personnel in Canada (1978)
Technical Manual Series in Heritage Conservation (BC Heritage Trust, 1979-), editor Introduction to Museum Studies and Introduction to Heritage Conservation (print and video distance education course, University of Victoria, 1984)
OLMIS /iMIS (On-line Museum Information System) collections inventory control system for the museum collection of the University of Victoria, co-author.
In both fields he has also written numerous exhibition catalogues, film scripts, articles and book reviews, etc.