Throwback Thursday – Summer Programme 2018

Written by Claire Messenger, Manager, International Training Programme

Today’s Throwback Thursday looks at the annual summer programme 2018 when the British Museum and 11 UK partner museums welcomed 23 fellows from 17 countries to the UK between 2 July and 10 August.

The 13th annual ITP summer programme saw the addition of four new countries to our growing global network and in 2018 we were joined by fellows from Azerbaijan, Nepal, the Philippines, and Rwanda – new connections that have developed into long-term, sustainable and rewarding partnerships.

For 2018, to include a wider range of voices and experiences to the summer programme, we increased the number of external speakers and session facilitators. Janet Vitmayer, former Chief Executive of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, delivered a session and workshop on leadership; Miriam Lloyd-Evans, Art Historian and Curator, led a session on curating exhibitions; Alice Stevenson, University College London, introduced the fellows to her project looking at universal museums and object biographies; Laura Bedford, former Project Co-ordinator, National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing, University College London, delivered a subject specialist session on Museums, health & wellbeing; and the participation of Pippa Nissen, Director / Architect and Designer of Nissen Richards Studio, added another dimension to the group’s afternoon on the redisplay of the British Museum’s Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia.

We were also delighted to be welcomed to Kingston Lacy, where Katrina Thomson, Consultancy Manager (Collections) for the National Trust, and her colleagues shared their experiences of managing a historic property, and also to Constantine Limited who provide specialist fine art logistics for museums and galleries worldwide and gave an insight into international object moves.

Our weekend trips also introduced a new partner to the programme with a wonderful trip to Hever Castle.  It was an amazing day which enabled us to explore 700 years of history at the romantic double-moated 13th century castle once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and Mother of Elizabeth I.  While there, we were also able to take part in a special event which introduced us to the Medieval tradition of ‘jousting’ – a sporting contest in which two opponents on horseback, typically knights, fight with lances.  Thankfully, it was only a recreation but a very realistic one!!!

Each year our fellows are asked to plan and propose a temporary exhibition, drawing on their existing museum experience and the skills learnt during the programme. Our 2018 fellows selected an object from the Museum’s collection around which to design their Object in focus exhibition and worked within the theme of ‘Journeys’.  Fellows were asked to work in partnership with a colleague from another country, and to work with an object from outside of their areas of expertise!!!

Working on the project proposal across cultures and outside of our fellows ‘comfort zones’ provided yet another excellent opportunity to develop strong working relationships and creative new work practices. It demonstrated the benefits and challenges of working collaboratively and enhanced the ITP global network. The exhibition proposal project again proved to be a highlight of the programme. It clearly demonstrated the hard work and imagination that goes into all the fellows’ proposals and the Supporters Reception was again the ideal opportunity for our participants to share their ideas.

In 2018 we welcomed Andrea Terrón Gómez (Guatemala, ITP 2017) back to the British Museum for nine weeks as the Senior Fellow 2018.  While here in the UK – as well offering Andrea the opportunity to gain further insight into the ITP with meetings to discuss partnerships, funding, networking and the importance of reporting and evaluation – we were able to arrange for her to speak to colleagues at ICOM UK and the Museums Association, and with the programme’s external evaluator, Annabel Jackson.  Andrea was also able to connect with UK partner staff at Manchester Museum, to travel to National Museums Northern Ireland in Belfast to meet our new UK partner for this summer and to spend time at Glasgow Museums, discussing their collections and storage and sharing expertise.

We had a wonderful summer with our ITP fellows – and Andrea – and I hope that the images I’ve chosen help to show what fun we had.