Throwback Thursday – Learning, Engagement and Museums, Armenia

Written by Claire Messenger, Manager, International Training Programme.

This week we are taking a break again from the summer programmes to look back at a ITP legacy project.  From 24 – 29 October 2016 the International Training Programme team were in Yerevan, Armenia working on a collaborative project with the Museum Education Center (MEC) in Armenia and Manchester Art Gallery.

This project was a perfect example ‘networking on a global level’ as while in Mumbai in 2015 for the ITP 10th Anniversary event Creating museums of world stories, Hayk and Marine Mkrtchyan and Davit Poghosyan (Armenia, ITP 2014 and 2015), together with Ronan Brindley, Head of Learning at Manchester Art Gallery, discussed plans for a learning-based project that could be delivered in-country.

With ITP support, the group developed and delivered a conference and workshop focussing on the vital role museums play in education and skills development, both in Armenia and in other parts of the world.

To ensure the event truly included global voices we were able to invite colleagues from around the world.  The conference started with a fascinating series of learning-based case studies delivered by colleagues across the ITP network – Andrea Martin (The Collection, Lincoln), Elaine Addington (Glasgow Museums Resource Centre), Christine Fischer (Grassi Museum, Leipzig, Germany) and Shreen Amin (Children’s Museum at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt). 

Colleagues across the cultural sector, from museums and galleries in Yerevan, also shared their projects and programmes highlighting new approaches and perspectives on museum practice.  This enabled us to gain first-hand experience of Armenia’s unique cultural heritage and to make new connections, further enriching our global network.

We were also delighted to welcome three of the ITP alumni to join us: Tugba Tanyeri Erdemir (Turkey, ITP 2016), Shubha Banerji (India, ITP 2014) and Nathalie El-Alam (Lebanon, ITP 2012).  Our colleagues helped support and facilitate the working groups and spoke at the conference about their ITP experiences.

The workshop that followed focussed on debating and brainstorming around four key issues, highlighted as areas of concern by our Armenian colleagues:

Family Learning. Teen-Friendly Engagement. Adult Learning, focussing on Working with Older Audiences. Working with New Audiences.

Workshop participants identified an audience and planned a learning/engagement project that could be delivered in their institutions.

Finally, on the last day of the conference, we invited delegates to examine how they might build upon their skills to inform their current roles and plan for the future. Delegates were asked to consider how their personal development could help them deliver more effectively and demonstrate how opportunities for sharing knowledge, skills and experiences during the summer programme informed their own roles and approaches to museum projects.

The ITP team then delivered a hands-on workshop, providing frameworks for plans and approaches to professional development. Delegates were asked to design a ‘career pathway’ with past professional and personal experiences and to detail how these have provided them with hard skills (certificates, formal qualifications etc.), and soft (interpersonal) skills. Finally, delegates were encouraged to ‘fill the gaps’, identifying what skills were missing and how they might be gained.

Following the workshop, the ITP team published a report and worked with the four groups to produce useful and creative toolkits which can be found through the links below:

Learning, Engagement and Museums Report (

Older Audiences, Building Memories (

Family Learning, Families against War (

New Audiences, The Colour of Sound (

Teen Engagement, Teen Council of Museums (

Huge thanks go out to Marine, Hayk, Davit and Ronan, for creating and developing this event which was a wonderful success with exceptionally positive feedback from our delegates and speakers.