Unforgettable Experiences – Reflections on My UK Partner Placement in Manchester (Nagwa Bakr, ITP 2019, Egypt)

Written by Nagwa Bakr, Community Exhibition Officer, Ministry of Antiquities (ITP 2019, Egypt)

Me and three other ITP colleagues Ketevan, Vishi and Benedicta spent ten days in our UK partner museum at Manchester.

I’m in the city that I dreamed of many times. It is a very nostalgic city, with Victorian buildings, the view from my lovely room, stories about Peterloo, industrial heritage and, of course, Manchester United. Everything here encourages us to discover. We were welcomed by Ronan Brindley (Head of Education at Manchester Art Gallery) and we had a friendly conversation about our work. We then had a nice Indian dinner with Dr. Campbell Price (Curator of Egypt and Sudan at Manchester Museum) and Uthra Rajgopal (Assistant Curator at the Whitworth Gallery).

In 10 days, I participated in many sessions linked directly to my work with community and learning programmes.  I have been inspired by many great ideas about art exhibitions and how art changes life, museums in Manchester as free spaces for communities to come and express their needs and speak about their problems. I like that there is a space in the Manchester Art Gallery to help homeless people to come and speak. Also there is a programme for babies which astonished me as it was my first time to see this age group in a museum.

Session in the Manchester Art Gallery

Moreover, I like the idea of temporary exhibitions for the Whitworth Gallery. I also like the garden with plants and fruits planted by the local community. There are activities over the summer about water; I saw different tools related to water usage. It is a lovely space for kids and mothers. I saw a creative exhibition by Ibrahim Mahama from Ghana called Parliament of Ghosts. Then, we visited Manchester United museum and had a stadium tour of Old Trafford! It was very marvelous to know the history of one of the most famous football teams and especially being in the stadium.

At the Manchester Museum we were welcomed with homemade cake by Dr. Campbell Price. Some museum galleries are under renovation, so it was nice to know how the museum changes gallery exhibitions not only its building and design but also its collections and activities to attract the diverse people living in Manchester.

Homemade cake with Campbell Price (Curator of Egypt and Sudan, Manchester Museum)

Manchester was once nicknamed the Cottonopolis for being the centre of the cotton industry in the UK.  In the Museum of Industry and Science we discovered the history of the textile. It is amazing place to see, with its historical house museum and site museum in one area which reflects the industrial history of the city. It even has different activities and gallery talks with the audience.

We traveled to Liverpool and enjoyed a sunny day at the Old Dock, Tate Liverpool and Liverpool Museum. And finally we rested on the grass and took photos with the Beatles!