ITP Diary 12th August 2014: Hajra Haider

Second day of the second week, started with slightly low energies but it did not take long for everyone’s spirits to lift as we were all whisked off for a mesmerizing tour of Ancient Lives with the project curator Marie Vandenbeusch. The atmosphere created with utmost care using dim light and dark interiors, elevate the viewer from the realm of reality into a space where the outside world seems to be very far away. This is the first exhibition ever where the digital technology is used at its peak. There are high resolution scans of the eight mummies which show internal details as never before. The scans show internal organs, in some cause of death and a tattoo on the arm of the mummy of the Sudanese woman. They have been displayed such that the Mummies remain the main point of focus, and the scans just a supporting element.  Marine gave us a summary of the rigorous process, starting from the inception to the execution of the exhibition. This tour was followed by a session with John Taylor, curator of Ancient Egypt and Sudan and Daniel Antoine, Curator of Physical Anthropology. They delivered a presentation on the detailed procedure of research and planning of the exhibition, which gave us an insight into the points of focus and aims and objectives, leading to the selection process of eight mummies out of 120 mummies in the British Museum’s collections.

This presentation left us with a lot of information to absorb and food for thought; which was instantly put to use by an activity of creating a slogan for the exhibition which would run on the side of a red London bus.  It was a chance to put our churning thoughts to good use and come up with a creative slogan and give an elevated pitch to the rest of the group. Seyda Cetin and I made a great team and came up with 10 slogans out of which the best one was ‘Meet the EIGHT at the gate of the Digital Age’.


Lunch was followed by two highly engaging sessions; one a continuation of Ancient Lives, which revolved around project management, design of exhibition, display requirements and consideration, delivered by Philippa Wainwright, project Manager Exhibitions. The other session Photography and Imaging with John Williams, Chief photographer gave us crucial points on the difference between documentation for records, catalogue and exhibitions, followed by a tour of the new photographic studio in WCEC, with the latest technological equipment.  On our way we also got a glimpse of the new lift under construction.


It was a very important day as it gave us new perspectives into researching, planning, creating and designing exhibitions as well as documenting them. Each area is crucial in realizing the exhibition and creating a fulfilling and learning experience for the viewer.

But the day was not finished yet…

Upon return to Schafer house, our Armenian friend Marine and Palestinian friend O’bour decided to prepare some dinner to introduce their cuisines to the rest of us. Our Facilitator and friend Jana joined in and prepared salad.  A beautiful meal followed by friendly banter, gave a feeling of being home with loved ones. Cleaning up was also a joint task, completed by Berkay and myself, while O’bour prepared Palestinian coffee and Constantinos brought some fruit and chocolate echoed by some heartfelt laughter.

A most fulfilling end to a most fulfilling day!!!


 Hajra Haider – Curator, IVS Gallery, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. Karachi, Pakistan