Reflections on Lockdown and Coming Back to Work! (Anna Cottle, ITP Coordinator; George Peckham, ITP Assistant)

Written by Anna Cottle, International Training Programme Coordinator and George Peckham, International Training Programme Assistant


It is so lovely to be back with the ITP team and network after what feels like a very long time away! As you probably remember, the whole ITP team was furloughed with special leave around six months ago and so we weren’t able to work.

During that time, I kept busy with various things – picking up old hobbies such as drawing and trying out painting, cycling and gardening and I cooked and baked a lot! This was something I had gotten out of the habit of doing, alongside reading for pleasure and doing DIY at home so in some ways the time ‘off’ enabled me to do a lot of things I always felt I hadn’t had time for in the past – with a happy household due to a constant stream of homemade cakes, biscuits and bread (I have to say, I’m not sure that will carry on now I am back to work!). It was also a chance to go on many long walks in my local area of Greenwich and discover lots of new outdoor areas and parks that had been right on my doorstep all along.

I was missing the routine of work and of being part of a network so I also made a website/blog to connect artists globally which some of you have already seen and have very kindly recommended brilliant artists for. The idea came from a conversation between me and Mariana Sainz (Mexico, ITP 2018) as we spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic would affect artists. It was very strange to be away from the Museum building and the ITP so this was a great side project to focus on and I’m excited to see what comes out of it.

George and I started our first week back with the MA Conference 2020 which was a full and extremely interesting five days, hearing from many different museums about the challenging time we have faced and what the future holds for museums looking forward. We were glad to be able to share those sessions we found most useful, on the blog.

As you know, Claire has been back at work for a little while so it has been brilliant to hear about what she has been doing and to get on board with it all – there’s some really exciting things coming up. It has been very inspiring to watch the previous weeks ITP online sessions, to be a part of the last few sessions and to look forward to the next ones.

We are now back at work full time, although we are still working from home. We’re working on lots of new plans for the coming weeks and months and look forward to sharing those with you soon.


Hello everyone! It’s so great to finally be back full-time with the ITP team. As you may already know, Claire, Anna and I were all placed on special furlough leave at the end of April this year and we were unable to do any work. Claire returned to work August and Anna and I were able to join her in November. Six months is a long time to be away from work. As I normally look after the ITP’s social media pages, it was especially difficult not to post anything or reply to any of the network.

I thought I would share what I have been up to this year. Firstly, during lockdown I set myself a challenge to read at least one book a month. I ended up reading a lot more than this in the end! I focused more on modern classics which I have never read before. Here is a list of some of my favourites from this year:

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
  • Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
  • A Catcher in the Rye, J.D Salinger
  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel García Márquez
  • The Royal Game, Stefan Zweig
  • Amok, Stefan Zweig
  • A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  • A Scanner Darkly, Philip K. Dick

I used my time away to try to learn some news things. I took a couple of online courses on cultural heritage and museum studies. I’ve been trying to learn a new language! For a few minutes every day I have been teaching myself Turkish. Sometimes I surprise myself with the amount of words and phrases I’ve managed to learn. So to all the ITP fellows in Turkey: Merhaba! Nasılsınız?

I also bought a guitar in lockdown and have been teaching myself to play. I played guitar for a short time when I was teenager and part of me always regretted not persisting with it. So this year I finally decided to buy a guitar that I absolutely love! I pick it up and practice every day.

When museums were finally able to reopen in the UK over the summer, I took the opportunity to visit as many as I could! The museum experience was slightly different once they did reopen. You have to book a time-slot, wear a mask and many have implemented a one-way system around the galleries. During lockdown I managed visit the National Gallery, Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert Museum, the Science Museum, Horniman Museum & Gardens, Imperial War Museum, the Garden Museum, and Chislehurst Caves!

It’s been great to come back to work this month. I have a lot of exciting things to work on which I am looking forward to sharing with you all soon. I have also really enjoyed attending the ITP online sessions over the last few weeks. There have been some excellent and inspiring talks given by fellows and ITP colleagues, so I would definitely recommend attending an upcoming event if you haven’t managed to do so already!

Have you picked up any new hobbies during lockdowns or stay at home orders? Have you learnt anything new? Share your reflections and experiences of the last year by sending us a blog! Email