Minutes of Worklab meeting, 18-19 June 2012, People’s History Museum, Manchester, UK
18 June 2012
After lunch and a tour of the People’s History Museum the meeting started at 2pm. Delegates then made short presentations outlining current developments at each member museum. Despite continuing difficulties with the economy in most European countries, members generally reported an upbeat situation.
Kalle Kallio then gave a presentation reviewing recent Worklab projects including successes such as the publication of the special edition of the International Journal of Heritage Studies containing the paper on labour movement buildings from the Worklab conference in Tampere in 2010. He suggested 5 possible models for future strategy; Project Generation, Scientific Club, Museum Chain, Information Sharing and Parasite Organisation. (Kalle Kallio: Future of Worklab)
This was followed by a wide ranging discussion on the chair’s presentation. It was clear that all members valued Worklab’s past efforts and were determined to revitalise the organisation by putting in future work. It was agreed that it was better to meet face to face once a year or bi-annually. Torsten Nilsson proposed future exchange of staff and DK updating the Worklab website to attract new members and it was agreed to create a Facebook page on the website.
Dagmar Kift further outlined how the development of labour museums was related to the growth of ‘history from below’ in all member countries. But with the academic and curatorial staff who had pioneered this movement coming to the end of their careers (already outlined by Nick Mansfield in pre-conference communications) there was a both threat and an opportunity to redefine modern work and link it to academic theory of the post industrial debate. This could be related to differences in labour movement history in each of our countries and specifically to a German project planned for 2015 on 150 years of social democracy.
It was generally approved that the existing Sound of Work project should be redeveloped and submitted for EU funding. Some discussion took place on co-operating with bigger organisations like IALHI and TICCIH, with the latter seeming more relevant. TICCIH had asked for a note about this meeting for its next newsletter.
Further discussion covered possible joint marketing with Jan-Anders Dam-Nielsen suggesting the use of an I-Phone App. To conclude it was agreed that our future strategy should be a combination of some elements of Kalle Kallio’s suggestions (with the exception of the Museum Chain, thought impractical) and the Worklab board was asked to review membership and the issue of fees.
19 June 2012
It was agreed to reorganise the Worklab board. Nick Mansfield and Teemu Ahola resigned at the meeting and Jose Gamerio (who could not attend) also indicated his resignation.
The new board therefore consisted of Kalle Kallio (Chair), Katy Archer (Secretary), Sofia Seifarth, Dagmar Kift, Udo Wiesinger, Louise Skyggebjerg, Irena Marusic
Norrköping and Copenhagen are possible hosts for the next conference which will be in late 2013 or 2014 but it is also possible that Worklab will organise a small side-event in some other conference 2013. Members will be informed about it later.
Cath Birchall made a plea for all future EU bids to include allowances for travel costs for delegates.
Torsten Nilsson and Sofia Seifarth outlined the current Sound of Work project and suggested – in the light of its relatively good score and the feedback given – that a reapplication be made, which was agreed.
Members outlined future projects at their individual institutions to see which had an international resonance. Katy Archer went through the Co-operative movement (2013), First World War and Peace (2014), Jarrow March/Unemployment (2016), centenary of womens’ vote (2018) and the Peterloo Massacre (2019). Possible included the European Parliamentary Labour Party, textile conservation and drama/education. Torsten Nilsson and Sofia Seifarth liked the war/peace topic as also did Jürgen Bönig connected to the centenary of the First World War. Kalle Kallio liked the drama topic, and Dagmar Kift and Jürgen Bönig liked the changes in employment theme. Dagmar Kift suggested that this could be extended into examining European differences in work, defining the future of work and how museum could collect to reflect these issues. Louise K. Skyggebjerg thought that Copenhagen’s possible theme on flexibility of work and workers’ identities could also be related to these topics. Dagmar Kift also suggested that music could be a possible future joint project, including choirs, brass bands, popular music and culture – the latter linked also to migration. This was supported by Jan-Anders Dam-Nielsen and Nick Mansfield.
It was decided then to disperse to three working groups, on Sound of Work, Drama and Unemployment.
Before this, Geert Van Goethem arrived at the meeting gave a full and exciting presentation about AMSAB – Institute of Social History. Future projects would include people’s palaces, the aftermath of the First World War, the history of social security, Turkish migration, beer and breweries and popular music culture.
The three groups met and reported back briefly to the whole meeting. Torsten Nilsson indicated that Sound of Work would be re-submitted with 6 partners, 4 existing and 2 new ones, possibly from southern Europe with the addition of video as well as sound.
Katy Archer reported that the Unemployment group had covered perceptions and images, how each country had handled the issue, what it means to be unemployed, with research, publications, and a programme of activities, for an 2014 application date. Kalle Kallio reported that the drama group would relate the content to democracy, immigration, womens’ rights with EU and possible Grundtvig (or its replacement) funding, led by Manchester with further academic partners. Kalle Kallio further suggested that this might be eligible for EU adult education funding as well as cultural funding.
Dagmar Kift argued for each of these possible projects to include an emphasis on changes in historiography since the 1970s and 80s and new theory particularly relating to the representation of work in the post industrial and globalised age and how these issues could be communicated by museums. This approach met with general agreement.
Before dispersing Katy Archer, Cath Birchall and colleagues were thanked for their hospitality.
- Jan-Anders Dam-Nielsen, Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum (J-N D-N)
- Louise K. Skyggebjerg, The Workers’ Museum, Copenhagen (LS)
- Hanne Abildgaard, The Workers’ Museum, Copenhagen (HA)
- Jürgen Bönig, Historical Foundation Museum Hamburg (JB)
- Sofia Seifarth, Museum of work, Sweden (SS)
- Torsten Nilsson, Museum of work, Sweden (TN)
- Dagmar Kift, LWL-Industriemuseum, Dortmund (DK)
- Kalle Kallio, The Finnish Labour Museum, Werstas, Chair (KK)
- Teemu Ahola, The Finnish Labour Museum, Werstas (TA)
- Katy Archer, People’s History Museum (KA)
- Cath Birchall, People’s History Museum (CB)
- Nick Mansfield, UCLan, Secretary (NM)
- Geert Van Goethem, Amsab-Institute of Social History (GG) (Attending only 19th)