Season’s Greetings and Reflections on 2019

Written by Claire Messenger, Manager, International Training Programme

We wish the global network of ITP fellows, partners, supporters and followers Season’s Greetings and all the best for the coming year!

What a year 2019 has been…

The 14th annual ITP summer programme saw 23 museum professionals from 16 countries join the global network, spending six weeks in the UK at the British Museum and 9 UK partner museums. Five new countries were added to the network: Colombia, Georgia, Romania, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. The ITP network now boasts 299 museum professionals from 48 countries!

(left to right) Ciprian Dobra (Romania), Nagwa Bakr (Egypt), Yasser Abdelrady (Egypt) and Ioan Oprea (Romania)

Summer programme fellows again this year worked in partnership on their exhibition proposal projects – now titled Object in focus – and worked with objects outside their specialisms chosen by their Departmental Mentors on the theme of ‘journeys’. We increased the number of external speakers this year to add a plurality of voices, and also added new trips to the London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE, the Royal Mint Museum and the Bank of England Museum.

Benedicta Gokah (Ghana) and Ioan Oprea (Romania) with their Object in focus project

We were delighted to work with our nine UK partner museums again this year.  Yet again our partners provided an opportunity for our ITP fellows to see new parts of the country and experience a range of different museum services with innovative and creative projects and programmes. For the ITP team it was joy to work with wonderful colleagues around the country who have continued to support the summer programme, and our legacy work, year on year.

Our Senior Fellow 2019 was Mohamed Mokhtar (Egypt, ITP 2015) who, while here in the UK, had the opportunity to gain further insight into the ITP and to connect with UK Partner staff at Norfolk Museums Service and National Museums Northern Ireland in Belfast to discuss their collections and storage and share expertise. He was also able to renew existing relationships, spending time with colleagues at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and at Manchester Museum, discussing their current plans for redevelopment.

From 28 – 30 March 2019, the ITP team were warmly welcomed back to Chhatrapati Shivji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) Mumbai to help mark the opening of CSMVS’s new Children’s Museum with an ITP+ Course which focused on Museums and education.  We were delighted to be back in Mumbai and to work again with colleagues Manisha Nene (India, ITP Fellow 2011); Vaidehi Savnal (India, ITP Fellow 2016) and Bilwa Kulkarni (India, ITP Fellow 2015).

Ronan Brindley (ITP UK Partner Representative, Manchester Art Gallery) with ITP fellows at ITP+ Mumbai 2019 at CSVMS

We were also pleased to be able to bring ITP Fellows from around the world together to discuss engaging and educating young audiences with Paul Michael (Tanzania, ITP Fellow 2012); Suruchika Chawla (India, ITP Fellow 2018); Fadzai Muchemwa (Zimbabwe, ITP Fellow 2017); Namrata Sarmah (India, ITP Fellow 2018); Rashidah Salim (Malaysia, ITP Fellow 2016) and Solomy Nabukalu (Uganda, ITP Fellow 2018).

I was particularly delighted to be able to welcome six fellows to the annual Museum Association conference which this year was held in my hometown of Brighton. From 30 September to 2 October the fellows –  Astghik Marabyan (Armenia, ITP Fellow 2017); Zulkifli Ishak (Malaysia, ITP Fellow 2017); Namrata Sarmah (India, ITP Fellow 2018); Roshan Mishra (Nepal, ITP Fellow 2018); Xuejing Dai (China, ITP Fellow 2015)  and Wesam Mohamed (Egypt, ITP Fellow 2015) – took part in a tailored programme of visits to museums and heritage sites in Surrey and Sussex, followed by the Museums Association Conference and Exhibition from 3 to 5 October.

ITP fellows and ITP team at Polesden Lacey as part of the MA Conference Brighton programme

2019 also saw the culmination of Barbara Vujanović’s (Croatia, ITP Fellow 2016), Spotlight loan collaboration with the Departments of Greece and Rome and Learning and National Partnerships. Her show, Rodin: rethinking the fragment, finished its tour of three venues around the UK, where it was seen by a total of 47,193 visitors. Huge congratulations go to Barbara for such a successful project and one that the ITP team and our colleagues around the BM were proud to be part of.

Barbara Vujanović at her touring show: Rodin: rethinking the fragment

From 15 to 19 May 2019, Hadeer Belal (Egypt, ITP Fellow 2013), Curator at the Coptic Museum, Cairo, visited the Uganda National Museum to discuss the country’s cultural heritage as part of the ITP’s first Collaborative Award, Road to Reconciliation.  During her time in Kampala, Uganda, Hadeer took part in a panel discussion, public debate and attended the opening of a temporary exhibition.

At the end of 2019 the project Road to Reconciliation will come to a close and a report on the team’s work – sharing their successes and learning outcomes over the past two years – will be shared with the ITP global network.

Hadeer Belal and Nelson Abiti (Uganda, ITP 2013 – project lead for ITP collaborative award)

Over the past year, fellows have received support from the International Training Programme via our Conference Grants and Knowledge Exchange Fellowships in order to be able to attend and participate in conferences, workshops and return to the British Museum.

Marwa A. Bdr El Din (Egypt, ITP Fellow 2012), Head of the Registration, Collection Management and Documentation Department at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, was able to attend the 20th CRE (Current Research in Egyptology) symposium 2019 at Alcala University, Spain. There she presented her paper, The Ba houses in Ancient Egypt, and networked with Egyptologists from all over the world

Omar Joseph Nasser-Khoury, Birzeit University Museum (Palestine, ITP Fellow 2013), was able to continue his Palestinian textile project here at the British Museum as part of the ITP Knowledge Exchange Fellowships. Omar continued to document and photograph the textiles at the Museum’s Blythe House and was also able to present his project to this summer’s ITP fellows to highlight the opportunities available to the ITP network post-summer programme.

Omar working on his Palestinian textile project

Hayk Mkrtchyan (Armenia, ITP Fellow 2014 and Senior Fellow 2017), Assistant to the Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport and Director of the Association of Museum Workers and Friends, organised a workshop in Yerevan. The workshop, which focussed on all aspects of leadership and management in museums, was delivered by Janet Vitmayer, former Chief Executive, Horniman Museum and Gardens and Iain Watson, Director, Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums. ITP grants were able to support their attendance.

And Wesam Mohamed (Egypt, ITP Fellow 2015) spent a two-month research placement in the Department of Egypt and Sudan. Wesam is currently a PhD Fellow at Aarhus University, Denmark, and during her placement, the ITP team arranged for her to visit colleagues and collections around the UK to learn more about visitors’ reactions to Egyptian collections and to look at a variety of community engagement projects to seek inspiration for best practice. Wesam was welcomed to Manchester Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, the World Museum, Liverpool and the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.

Wesam Mohamed (Egypt, ITP 2015) and Mohamed Mokhtar (Egypt, ITP 2015, Senior Fellow 2019)

But perhaps the biggest news of 2019 were the changes to the ITP team.  Sadly Becca and Jess left the programme for pastures new in May of this year with Becca joining the International Engagement team here at the British Museum, as Project Manager: International Engagement and Jess moving to Tate to work as the Coordinator for the British Art Network.  However, after the Summer Programme 2019 we were joined by two new colleagues and I was delighted to welcome Anna and George to the team. Working with Anna and George is a real pleasure and it will be exciting to see how the programme changes and grows as they bring a new set of skills and experiences to the team.

Meanwhile 2020 will start in style with the official launch of our new WordPress blogsite and, at the request of our fellows, ITP Instagram and LinkedIn pages.

The site includes a space for blog posts where we will continue to share network news and views; a directory of fellows and partners; images, videos and network publications; a passworded resources space where we have materials to support cascaded training, development and e-learning; and the network’s first online exhibition Bristol: The Bigger Picture.

Applications for the Senior Fellow 2020 are already coming in and we will look forward to sharing news on who will fill that vital role supporting the ITP team next summer. The call for papers for our Newsletter, Issue 7, has also been circulated and we are looking forward to reading your articles as they come in over the coming months.

In Spring 2020 the ITP will host a week of skill-sharing and brainstorming around the future of the ITP, to ensure that it remains relevant and responsive to current challenges facing global museums and galleries. The week will see the British Museum invite our network of Senior Fellows (Armenia, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Kenya and Palestine) back to London, alongside UK and programme partners and colleagues from the BM to help debate and shape the future of the ITP moving forward. The ITP team will also survey the entire global network for their input into our future plans.

Due to its popularity, the ITP team will again offer five fellows places at the 2020 Museum Association Conference, which will be held in Edinburgh, combined with a three-day schedule of sessions and activities with programme partners in the region and other cultural institutions in the conference host city.

Michael, Jacob, Cormac and Matthew – the Worcester Polytechnic Institute team for 2019

With the support of students from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA, we will see a second ITP online exhibition. The new exhibition will display every Object in focus project and poster since the programme began, digitised and shared via the new Wordpress site.

We look forward to an amazing year to come, with exciting projects in development that we are looking forward to sharing with you!