A Scottish Dream Come True for Ishaq

Ishaq Mohamed Bello, Nigeria, ITP 2016 speaks of finally realising his dream to visit Scotland with the ITP.


Kiziili, Jana and Ishaq at Riverside Museum, Glagow

Glasgow, Scotland – a dream come true. It all started in 2012, when I was asked to select a British Museum International Training Programme (ITP) partner Museum from different parts of United Kingdom (UK) and give reasons for it. I  selected Glasgow – Scotland and my reason is simply to be able to learn from two different cultures with the same  dream. I was born and raised in Kaduna State – Nigeria where we have more than 30 different languages, different cultural events and belief, multiple faith groups which must be represented fairly right in every aspect of the Museum. While the British Museum ITP managers eventually sent me to Bristol based on my interests and expertise, four years later the British Museum and Bristol Art Galleries and Archives took me to Glasgow.

Being the luckiest British Museum ITPer among the ITPers that participated in Mumbai – India, I was selected to attend the two most important, 2016 annual conferences of museums in the world and a workshop.

1) American Alliance of Museums Annual Conference and MuseumExpo, Washington D.C USA, 2016.

2) Museum Association Annual Conference and Exhibitions Glasgow – Scotland UK, 2016.

And the International Training Programme Workshop in Bristol – England UK, 2016.

The Museum Association Annual Conference and Exhibition 2016 in Glasgow was full of dreams come true. Some of those dreams were meeting colleagues and Museum mentors who I’ve never met face to face before, with other colleagues around the world. My old connections like Tim Corum, now at the Horniman Museum and Gardens London, Philip Walker, Gail Boyle still with Bristol Art Galleries and Archives, Tony Butler now Executive Director at Derby Museums and founder of Happy Museum, and Phelus Dean, Senior Director of Leadership Programs with American Alliance of Museums, USA. My online connections like Andrea Martin of The Collection: Lincoln & Usher Gallery, who we had dinner with. She is a nice and brilliant lady. My new connections like Sana Khan – listening to people like them always boosts my morale to give the best in my work.

The conference had some brilliant themes:

BEING BRAVE: courage, innovation and risk-taking coordinated by Adele Patrick, Glasgow Women’s Library Life-long Learning and Creative Development Manager

PEOPLE AND PLACES: stories, communities and collections Coordinated by Morag Macpherson, Head of Research and Development, Museums Galleries Scotland

HEALTH AND WELLBEING: impact, evidence and delivery coordinated by Mark O’Neil, Director, Policy and Research, Glasgow Life

And the exhibition booths around the conference sessions, I simply loved them and it connected me with some exhibitors I had already met in the USA and some new ones from all parts of the globe.

The conference provided a lot to every museum and every museum worker, no matter how small your institution is, or what level you are in your institution.

Two things I won’t forget at the conference are:

Firstly, how the ITP family took very good care of me. Especially when they discovered I lost my luggage at the Edinburgh airport. The ITP managers Claire and Emma wanted to buy some clothes but I systematically refused to accept it. Because the rest of ITPers will need that money for further training and skills sharing. I was lucky at the time to be in a fancy black jacket and black jeans in the largest black wearing country I ever seen or been to. In every 20 persons on the street, 19 are fully dressed in black and was everyday until I left Glasgow. It was very educative and fun, from English breakfasts to Scottish tea breaks, lunch and to Italian, Indian and Thai dinners. Sue Giles, Manisha Nana, Jana Alaraj, Kiziili Chole and the smartest Rige Shiba thanks, I still have the  muffler – life savers.

Secondly Mr Duncan a Volunteer with the Riverside Museum. He guides with fashion. And he makes me discover  what I will finally do when I retire. He was retired but not tired indeed.

British Museum International Training Programme Fellows are the FUTURE leaders of museums around the world.


Volunteer guide Duncan giving his tour of Riverside Museum