Week Two: Middle East Department Time (Hoda El Chayah, ITP 2018, Lebanon)

I am Hoda Abulgheni El Chayah, from Lebanon.  I am an archaeologist and museologist and I work at the Ministry Of Culture, Directorate General Of Antiquities in the Museum Department. My ITP departmental time is spent with the Middle East Department. I heard about London, the city of fog, and I used to dream about visiting it one day, and now my dream has come true: I am in London, walking its streets and meeting its citizens.

Staff Talk breakfast with ME

BM Staff Talk breakfast, with Middle East Department

On Thursday (12 July), the ITP fellows were separated into their departments. I started my day by having breakfast with my colleagues Ali, Rema, Rafidah and all the members of the Middle East Department.

First, Chris Lazenby presented the weekly Staff Talk. This week, it was about the Health and Wellbeing Week Employee Assistance Programme.

Illicit Trade 1

Illicit Trade talk with AES ITP Fellows and Circulating Artefacts participants

Then, I was so excited for the presentation of Marcel Maree about Illicit Trade and Acquisitions with the Ancient Egypt and Sudan ITP fellows.

Illicit Trade 2

Marcel Maree talks about Illicit Trade project

My biggest surprise was when I saw the Middle East Library: it consists of three floors, with one of them reserved for studies. The library contains around 70,000 books with English, French and some Arabic titles, and the books are separated by country. What surprised me most was when I discovered that Hannah Woodley, the Middle East Librarian, works alone so she has a hard job to do!

Middle East Library

Middle East library at British Museum

I was so happy when I met Jonathan Tubb, Keeper of the Middle East Department. He told us that he visited Lebanon four years ago and he met Dr Layla Bader. He was very cheerful and showed us his department and his gift from the University of Samarra.

With Jonathan Tubb

ITP Middle East fellows with Jonathan Tubb

At lunch, I discussed with curator Zeina Klink-Hoppe my project for Objects in Focus and the book list. She informed us about the work happening to prepare Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World. They are a team of 20 people working together. The collection is around 27,000 objects, and she showed us how they prepare for their exhibitions. Nevertheless, what was shocking is to know that just 5% of schools make visits to the museum.

With Zeina and AES Fellows

ITP Middle East and AES fellows with Zeina Klink-Hoppe

Finally, I want to say many thanks to the ITP 2018 team: Claire, Jessica, Rebecca, Andrea, Zeina, Manuela, and the ITP fellows; thank you for making me feel like I am with my family.