Exploring Behind the Scenes at the British Museum (Jasmine Yue Qiao, ITP 2019, China)

Written by Jasmine Yue Qiao, Curator and Custodian, Tianjin Museum (ITP 2019, China)

My name is Jasmine Yue Qiao, I come from China. I am working in the Tianjin Museum, which is one of the first-class museums in China, as a curator and storekeeper. After the preparation and introduction work in the first two days at the British Museum, we had a preliminary understanding of the ITP project and our partners. Today we welcome the first day of the formal course: collection management, libraries and archives. This is such an exciting learning opportunity that we can see “behind the scenes” to find out how the great British Museum is managed and operated.

ITP Participants listening to one of the British Museum’s collections managers

We started our day in the Sloane Room, which is bright, spacious and full of western history and culture. After a systematic introductory presentation, we were divided into several groups to follow our store keepers into the Museum’s store rooms. My daily job is collections management in my museum. Therefore, it is of great significance for me to understand the management mode of the British Museum’s storage spaces. I was very excited and had in-depth conversation with the staff of the British Museum. I am amazed at their meticulous and careful work. I learned a lot of very useful details of warehouse work, such as how to place fragile pottery by using a gasket and how to store necklaces.

The British Museum Anthropology Library

After learning about collection management, we had courses about British Museum’s libraries and archives and visited the libraries and archives in the afternoon. Antony Loveland, who is a senior librarian in the British Museum, prepared several old out-of-print books for us in the reading room. Several of our participants, such as Ketevan Chitashvili, from Georgia, also found introductions about their countries in the books and were very excited about this. What makes us proud and surprised most is that we can enter the famous British Museum archives! The magnificent buildings and full books and materials that shocked us very much. The day was full of surprises. After a day, a voice has been ringing in my mind. It’s great to be able to participate in ITP. I will definitely come back if I have the chance!