MA Conference Brighton: our fellows arrive in the UK. Written by Claire Messenger, ITP Manager

I am delighted to say that five of our ITP Fellows – Astghik Marabyan (Armenia, ITP Fellow 2017);  Namrata Sarmah (India, ITP Fellow 2018); Xuejing Dai (China, ITP Fellow 2015); Roshan Mishra (Nepal, ITP Fellow 2018) and Zulkifli Ishak (Malaysia, ITP Fellow 2017) – arrived in the UK on Saturday. 

The Fellows will be joining the ITP team in Brighton for the 2019 Museums Association (MA) conference and exhibition but, as with our previous trips to Glasgow 2016, Manchester 2017 and Belfast 2018, we have put together an additional programme to sit alongside the conference.  This programme, which we hope will give our Fellows new experiences and new contacts, will look at how the cultural sector in the UK preserves its history and how it is presented to visitors through ‘living’ museums and by the National Trust.

Brighton Train Station

Today our Fellows have the opportunity to spend the day in London to visit new displays and exhibitions at the British Museum, to arrange meetings and see colleagues or for self-guided tours of other institutions.  They will also meet Anna Cottle, our new ITP Coordinator, and travel with her down to Brighton where we will meet the sixth member of our group, Wesam Mohamed (Egypt, ITP 2015).

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we will visit the Weald and Downland Living Museum and Polesden Lacey, a National Trust property.

The Weald and Downland Living Museum is in a beautiful setting in Sussex in the South East of England and covers 40 acres with over 50 historic buildings dating from 950AD to the 19th century. The buildings, a mix of homes, farmsteads and rural industries, were all threatened with destruction and have been carefully dismantled, conserved and rebuilt in their historical form at the museum.

The museum, as well as striving to preserve the regions-built heritage, also runs a programme of demonstrations, including milling in the 17th century working watermill and cooking in the Tudor kitchen.

The Weald and Downland Living Museum

Meanwhile, Polesden Lacey is an Edwardian country retreat owned and managed by the National Trust. Both the house and gardens are magnificent, and the National Trust tells a wonderful story of the family who owned the house and the staff that worked there.

Both destinations tell very different stories but both seek to preserve and present culture and heritage in the UK.  Our Fellows will have the opportunity to meet staff and discuss their projects and learn more about their audiences and the challenges they face.

Polesden Lacey

From Wednesday night, starting with an opening reception at the Brighton Centre on the seafront, the Museums Association conference and exhibition will begin. This year’s MA conference will focus on Sustainable and Ethical Museums in a Globalised World. Sessions and workshops will examine museums’ roles in our changing world and in addressing challenging issues being faced globally. This will include thinking about social and political upheaval, demographic changes, rising inequalities and climate change.

There will also be the opportunity to spend time at museums and galleries in and around Brighton and Hove, with the MA programme including tours and events in Hove Museum and Art Gallery, the Booth Museum and Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

Within the ITP network, we hope our programme and the MA conference will provide an excellent opportunity to reaffirm existing relationships made during the summer programme and externally and increase the potential of the programme. It will offer further opportunities to exchange knowledge, skills and experiences and will support Astghik, Namrata, Roshan, Wesam, Xuejing and Zulkifli to continue to develop both professionally and personally. We also hope it will create networking opportunities with the hope of stimulating potential future collaborations.

We hope you will follow our week through social media as we share with you our learning and experiences.  You will see blogs from the Fellows and the ITP team and we will also be posting on Facebook and Twitter.  Please do take the opportunity to interact, ask any questions or send us comments, thoughts you would like to share.

Finally, I am particularly looking forward to seeing Astghik, Namrata, Roshan, Wesam, Xuejing and Zulkifli again and to welcoming them to my hometown of Brighton!!