UK Partner Placement: Becca Horton in Lincoln

Rebecca Horton, International Training Programme Coordinator

This summer I had the pleasure of joining Xu Liyi (ITP 2018, China) and Okan Cinemre (ITP 2018, Turkey) on the first part of their UK partner placement, The Collection: Art and Archaeology in Lincolnshire. Both Liyi and Okan were looking forward to a new adventure, for Okan the museum was a natural fit with his archaeological background and Liyi was looking forward to seeing how a smaller museum (in comparison to Shanghai Museum!) provides for its community through Educational and Children’s Programmes. Having met Andrea Martin, Exhibitions and Interpretation Manager, in 2016 when I first started on the ITP, I was excited to finally see where Andrea worked and all of the locations she had mentioned over the years.

We arrived on a record hot day in Lincoln and climbed, appropriately named, Steep Hill to get our bearings and experience the first of many cultural highlights: Lincoln Castle. The ITP’s UK Partners will always go above and beyond where possible, demonstrated by Andrea who was able to get us onto the castle walls despite closing time impending. We were able to look over the beautiful Lincoln architecture and the Lincolnshire landscape and to better understand where we would be spending our time over the next few days. Anyone who has visited Lincoln previously will know the most dominant view to be the Cathedral; work began on the Cathedral in 1072 and held the title of world’s tallest building for over 200 years during the medieval period.

Our first days in Lincoln were filled with introductions to permanent displays and temporary exhibitions across the Museum, the Usher Art Gallery and Victorian Prison (within the castle walls). Introductions not only gave curatorial insight but factored in collections management, project planning and programming, to coincide and enhance visitor experience around the various spaces. I found tours of the main gallery in The Collection from Dawn Heywood, Collections Development Office, particularly informative – and appreciated it’s chronological lay out! – and all of the education programmes on offer (demonstrated by Anita Fox, Learning Manager) so encouraging to see.

Andrea, Antony Lee, Collections Development Officer, and Dawn were not only so accommodating despite their busy schedules during the day but happy to spend their evenings introducing us to all that Lincoln has to offer! As a result, Liyi and Okan were able to fully understand Lincoln as a city in the English East Midlands and appreciate how the cultural sector responds to its needs and audiences.

On a personal note, since joining the British Museum I have found the work of Treasure Registrars and the Portable Antiquities Scheme particularly fascinating and was thrilled to meet with a team based in the Environment and Economy Directorate at Lincolnshire County Council. This new addition to Lincoln’s UK Partner Programme was incredibly insightful and highlighted all manner of responsibilities undertaken by those working in the cultural sector. Ian George, Places Manager, and his colleagues work on: planning permissions where impact on heritage must be considered; databases which map a each county’s archaeological surroundings; processing treasure cases; informing countryside stewardship, to name but a few roles. It was also a moment of realisation for Liyi, Okan and I as to how similar the challenges we all face are internationally, despite differences in land ownership laws.

Thank you to everyone at The Collection: Art and Archaeology in Lincolnshire and of course to Liyi and Okan for an enjoyable and interesting taster to a UK Partner Placement.