Working in Museums: A Jet-Setter’s Life! (Wesam Mohamed, ITP 2015, Egypt)

Written by Wesam Mohamed (ITP 2015), Curator, Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt

A Hungarian colleague once told me, ‘If you start to follow all of those museums events, then you’ll become a traveller!’
…Well, I think he’s right!

Over the past year, I’ve been visiting different countries to attend a variety of museum events.

I went to Paris in April 2017 – the city of lights, elegance and charm. From the very first moment I was astonished by the spirit of the city apparent in the rich art and architecture everywhere.

Besides my dream visit to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and the very horrifying Catacombes de Paris, my visit to the Musée du Louvre was just breathtaking – being in direct contact with some of the most important ancient Egyptian collections, which I’ve been studying for years, enjoying the marvelous architecture of the building, and seeing the Mona Lisa!

Skip forward to May 2017:
Now it’s time for St. Louis, Missouri to attend the annual meeting of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), an event with more than 4000 attendees. I was very happy to meet some of the best museum specialists in the USA and learn from a diverse set of sessions and events. The Museum-Expo presented a wide collection of companies and organisations working in the museums industry and showing the most recent products in the field.

It was also amazing to find a collection of glass plate negatives in St. Louis City Museum showing old views of Egypt.

Now let’s move to Finland!
The annual meeting of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) for its International Committee for Regional Museums (ICR) was held in Helsinki, Tampere and Hämeenlinna in August 2017, and I presented on issues of identity and their connections with museums. Finland is simply one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to. I had the feeling that I was spending a few days in one of the animation movies I used to watch when I was a child. It wouldn’t be so strange if I bumped into Snow White in the woods!

Besides the great benefits of the conference, the sessions and visits to a selection of very creative Finnish museums, it was great to familiarise myself with the members of the ICR and to make new friendships with my Croatian friends Maja Ergović and Katarina Buŝić. And one last thing: when you’re in Finland, you must try the Finnish sauna!

Our next stop is Tbilisi (in Georgia ‘the country’ – not the American state! – as my Georgian friend Lana Karaia used to say!). Georgia is a beloved country to me where I have many friends. This September 2017 visit was to attend the annual meeting of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) for its International Committee for Documentation (CIDOC) and to present about museum collections as a complex of information.

It was a great opportunity to learn about documentation standards, software, manuals and other related knowledge. The meeting was perfectly organised by ICOM Georgia with many activities and visits to the old city of Tbilisi and heritage sites such as Mtskheta.

And now we’re off to China!
It was my second visit to China and I can absolutely say that China makes me happy! I went to Shanghai in December 2017 to attend the third Shanghai Archaeology Forum (SAF) which was a very rich experience for me. It was also a nice surprise to meet Neal Spencer, Keeper of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum, who was there to receive one of the SAF Awards for 2017.

We also had an amazing post-conference tour to Kaifeng, Anyang and Beijing. Moreover, I had my best birthday ever in China!

And finally, back to the USA, to Phoenix, Arizona, where I presented last month for the second time at the annual meeting of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). I was also interviewed by an American journalist as well as filmed with a presenter for an AAM video production. It was wonderful to make new friendships with a group of Latino friends who are dancing and celebrating all the time!

We had a great time together and we had a commitment with the ‘Future CEO/Directors Perception’!

…….and now it’s time for some rest!!!