Seasons Greetings and reflections on 2015

Claire Messenger


International Training Programme

The International Training Programme team would like to send Seasons Greetings and wish a happy and prosperous 2016 to all of the readers of the ITP blog.

This year has been a wonderful celebration for the ITP.

From 26 July to 5 September 2015, the British Museum and 10 Partner Museums welcomed 24 culture and heritage professionals from 13 countries to the UK for the 10th annual summer programme.  We had an amazing, intense and inspiring six weeks and welcomed participants from four countries for the first time: Kurdistan, Malaysia, Tajikistan and Saudi Arabia, increasing our global network to 31 countries since 2006.

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This year has also been a perfect opportunity to look ahead to the future of the International Training Programme.

In April 2015, thanks to the generosity of the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, the British Museum was offered a challenge fund of up to £500,000 to match every donation in support of the ITP in honour of Neil MacGregor’s term as Director.  In the New Year we will report back on our fund-raising challenge and share with you our plans for the next 5 years of the Programme.

2015 has also provided lots of opportunities to reconnect with our ITP alumni now totalling 207.

In May this year, in light of the Programme’s 10th Anniversary celebrations, three past participants were invited to London speak to BM staff members and ITP supporters at our weekly Staff Breakfast.  We were delighted to be joined by ITP past participants Njeri Gachihi, National Museums of Kenya (ITP 2010), Nourah Sammar, Birzeit University – Palestine (ITP 2009) and Nelson Abiti, Uganda National Museum/University of East Anglia (ITP 2013) who reflected on their own personal experiences of the programme, and how it has affected their institutions and their countries.

Shadia Abdu Rabo, our colleague from the National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums, Sudan, who works as an inspector and archaeologist for the Amara West Project, directed by Neal Spencer, Keeper, Ancient Egypt and Sudan also returned to the BM.  We welcomed Shadia back to the Museum for a research visit in June 2015, to study the ‘fishing weights’ excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society from Amara West during the 1930s and 1940s.

Shadia - 2015_3

Also in June, to generate more awareness of the ITP and to raise funds, our annual ‘Director’s Dinner’ was themed around the Programme – inviting British Museum Patrons to celebrate our achievements and legacy.  The BM was delighted to invite back Nourah Sammar and Nelson Abiti to attend the dinner and speak about their experiences on the ITP and the impacts on their professional and personal development.  The evening was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our participants and the programme.

During this summer’s ITP were joined by our third Past Participant Facilitator, Shambwaditya ‘Shambo’ Ghosh (India, ITP 2012) who was an amazing addition to our team, helping us and the participants through a busy and productive summer programme.


We were also able to invite Nevine Nizar, Egyptologist at the Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt (ITP 2012) to return to the BM for an additional training week in October 2015. Nevine is developing her current role and taking on an additional training remit so the ITP team arranged a series of sessions, workshops and shadowing opportunities based around ‘train the trainer’, course and curriculum development and project and future planning.


This year the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) welcomed Ayman Al-Shweiki, Assistant of the Collections Director at the Yasser Arafat Museum and Collections Curator at the Birzeit University Museum, Palestine (ITP 2012) and Constantinos Vasiliadis, Senior Conservator – Coordinator of the Sculptures Conservation Laboratory, Acropolis Museum, Athens (Greece, ITP 2014) for the Dresden Research Fellowships 2015.

And we ended the year on an incredibly high note!!  On Friday 20th and Saturday 21st November 2015, the British Museum, in partnership with the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), held a two day workshop in Mumbai to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the International Training Programme (ITP).  The workshop brought together past ITP delegates, participants in the BM’s India Leadership Training Programme, museum directors from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, and staff from the BM and UK partner museums.

The programme, made possible by a grant from the Getty Foundation, provided an opportunity for global museum and heritage professionals to brainstorm and debate around proposals to develop new forms of ‘encyclopaedic’ displays that would present familiar local and national histories in the context of global stories.

Being in Mumbai, with our wonderful colleagues at CSMVS, was an amazing experience – one which we will never forget.  The workshop was fantastic, with some really inspiring collaborations and imaginative contributions, and provided a great opportunity to work again with our ITP alumni who were able to attend.

Mumbai CM

And let’s hope that 2016, our 10th anniversary year, will provide just as many opportunities to work together, celebrate our successes and plan for the future.

All images © Trustees of the British Museum