Reflections on My Subject Specialist Sessions: The Islamic Gallery & Bioarchaeology (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, and I work as a curator and collections manager at the Tianjin Museum, one of the first-class museums in China. I would like to share with you my reflections on the last day of the subject specialist sessions at the British Museum.

The sessions offered us a chance to discuss various topics in smaller groups, so we could share and exchange our thoughts more effectively. My group comprised six people. Even though we were from different museum backgrounds, we shared the same interests. It was quite useful to gain some practical guide in specific areas.

In the first session, we found out more about the renovation process of the Islamic Gallery at the British Museum, thanks to the speech by Jon Lubikowski, the Client Project Manager. During the previous sessions the curatorial staff had introduced the gallery’s collection and its design, but the renovation process was something new to us.

Jon Lubikowski on the renovation process

The renovation was not an easy task due to the building’s historical significance. The design of the roof impressed me the most. To protect the collection from the UV and provide the appropriate light level at the same time, the renovation team came out with a unique solution which they would test many times before the installation. Although each of us had different professional experience, we all found the session useful in terms of the application of scientific research and the challenges it could encompass.

A large number of visitors means that the Museum relies on volunteers to improve the visitor experience. Francesca Goff, the Volunteer Manager, talked us through and helped us to understand better the work of volunteers. We discussed the principal policies of volunteering at the Museum and other similar issues. We had an interesting practical session during which we had to pretend to volunteer in order to understand their job better. Thanks to this session, we understood the importance of museums not only as collection storages but also as places where anyone could touch history.

Objects from the practical session

In the afternoon, we met Daniel Antoine, the Curator of Bioarchaeology in the Department of Egypt and Sudan, to learn more about the policies on human remains. We were fascinated to find out more about the latest scientific research methods used in anthropology. Thanks to these new technologies, researches know more about human remains and how to protect them. We also visited the galleries to see the important artefacts and used an interactive device to see the collection’s details.