I visited the Bristol Museums and I loved it! (Rema Zeynalova, ITP 2018, Azerbaijan)

Written by Rema Zeynalova, ITP 2018, Chief Specialist on Scientific Research, Azerbaijan Carpet Museum

On Monday (23 July), the ITP 2018 Fellows were sent to their UK Partner Placements to continue their course. Three of us (Bassem, Rafidah and I) headed towards our placement at Bristol Museums, under the direction of Gareth Brereton, Curator from the Middle East Department at the British Museum.

Once we arrived in Bristol we were warmly welcomed by Sue Giles, Senior Curator: World Cultures, Bristol Museums. Later Kate Newnham, Senior Curator: Visual Art also joined us and we had lunch and dinner together, full of talk about the city of Bristol.

City Arts in Bristol

Street art in Bristol

On Tuesday (24 July) we started by exploring Bristol. Sue and two other colleagues took us around the city to show us Queen Square Park, St John on the Wall Church and some street art. It was interesting to know that this small city has two big universities (University of Bristol and UWE Bristol). The hilly and narrow streets of Bristol actually reminded me of my hometown, Old City (Baku). This city without a tube (underground) system continued to amaze me. Hot air balloons around the city… I was wondering why there were so many hot air balloons! Sue replied that it is because each year they celebrate International Balloon Fiesta and it is one of the symbols of the city. By the way this year it will be celebrated from 9 to 12 August.

After an interesting journey around the city, finally we arrived at M Shed. M Shed is part of Bristol Museums and is located at Prince’s Wharf beside the Floating Harbour in a dockside transit shed. The museum’s name is derived from the way that the port identifies each of its sheds. M Shed is home to the display of 3,000 Bristol artefacts and stories, showing Bristol’s role in the slave trade and items on transport, people and the arts.

Climb the crane

Climb the crane! Rafidah, Gareth, Bassem, me and M Shed volunteers

We had the great opportunity to visit and see the museum’s collection of historic artefacts. Lee Hutchinson, Curator: History and a few other volunteers guided us through the exhibition. Then we got opportunity to climb inside the engine house of cranes, where we watched and tried the crane operation. It was such a fun and memorable experience!

Then Sue took us to Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. We had an amazing tour and discussion about the Fabric Africa exhibition with Lisa Graves, Curator: World Cultures. I got some useful ideas from this exhibition which I hope will be very helpful in my institution’s operation.


Collections discussion: Sue, Rafidah, me and Bassem

At the end, Sue took us to the storage facilities of the museum and showed some artefacts from the collection to us, and we also had a discussion related to collections management.

So we have a whole week to go and exploration is in progress…!