Week 5 of ITP: Thoughts and Feelings (Mariana Sainz Pacheco, ITP 2018, Mexico)
Written by Mariana Sainz Pacheco, Deputy Director of International Exhibitions, National Coordination of Visual Arts, National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA), Mexico City
One Week to Go!
Week Five of the ITP is finished and we are in the final week, soon to go back home to all those places where, in one way or another, we all work making exhibitions. So, it is also a chance to put into practice all the knowledge that has generously been shared with us during the programme.
To reflect on all the thoughts and feelings of Week Five is difficult, because it was a mixture of the excitement of coming back and the sadness of knowing that this wonderful experience is coming to an end, excitement for the days spent in the partner museums, as well as anxiety about the last details of our Object in Focus project – not to mention anxiety about the idea of having overweight luggage on our return flights! But at the least, I can share some of the moments that will remain with me:
For Namrata, Chantal and I, Week 5 started rainy and cold in the wonderful and always green Northern Ireland. On our last day there, we got the chance to know the sound archive of National Museums Northern Ireland. They have thousand of records –interviews, music, testimonies – of their history. Undoubtedly, the courage with which people in Northern Ireland face – and preserve – their past is what will remain in my mind. Belfast is not a very old city, but it has seen a lot. People there are proud of their brilliant past as a successful industrial city, from which the Titanic left to find its sad destiny. To think of those glorious days is one part of the task, and another is to confront a not very distant past, in which The Troubles took many lives, caused many wounds –some of them still open – and changed the shape of the city. Nevertheless, they have started to look those days in the eye, to study and analyse them, and they are doing it inspiringly well!
It was good to be back in London, though: Schafer House felt like home. We celebrated Mao’s birthday –celebrations are always needed (especially after the fright of our flight landing!) and we shared with all the fellows the stories and anecdotes of our time away.
Soon we were back in the happy rush: Museum Project Day. Chantal, Namrata and I visited Voice & Vote, a wonderful exhibition and so relevant for our present moment. The exhibition shows the fight of English women through the years to have a place in the highest levels of political power, which started as a fight for power over themselves (in the words of Mary Wollstonecraft, 1792). We three Belfast ladies felt empowered and inspired!
Friday was Object in Focus: with a patience only comparable with that of Saint Job (a Mexican saying), Ela Lehmann (Project Curator: Amara West, Ancient Egypt and Sudan) and Louise Ellis-Barrett (Ann El-Mokadem Librarian, Ancient Egypt and Sudan) – and I have the feeling this would apply not only to the wonderful ITP representatives in other departments, but also to Claire, Becca and Jessica – helped us to get our projects almost ready. It seems there will be no tears in our final week, at least not for this reason.
It’s amazing how much you can learn during these brief sessions. For me, this project has been so clarifying on how to be clear, concise and direct on display, when there is so much to say.
When it comes to learning, I think that during the ITP summer programme, we all have learned so much about so many things beyond museums. We have learned about hard work and passion, we have learned about our organisers, the fellows and now friends; about their culture, their gastronomy, their lives, their personalities; we have also learned about generosity, from all the people who have shared so much with us in the British Museum and in all the other museums that joined, and from all the people who supported the programme… I felt that way on Saturday, when we were at Frances Carey’s house, who received us with one of the best ways you can welcome people: homemade food. The truth is, she didn’t just share with us the cakes she baked, but also a place that’s important for her, and of which she is proud, and I think that’s what all the people who have taught something to us during this weeks have done, including us fellows.
As always happens, after the rain, the sun shines again. And so Week Five ended, shiny and sunny. Summarising the ‘thoughts and feeling’ of our fifth week: I will miss the ITP, but I am extremely happy with the time I’ve spent here. Thank you all!