ITP 2021: An ITP day trip to Oxford

Written by Claire Messenger, International Training Programme.

The ITP day trips are a regular fixture in the annual programme and give our fellows the opportunity to spend more time as a group and with the ITP team, ensuring more chances to exchange ideas, knowledge and motivations. 

At some of the institutions we visit the fellow meet specialist colleagues who talk to them about specific areas of their collections and displays, elsewhere they have the opportunity for self-guided general tours which will allow them to decide for themselves what aspect of the museum or gallery they would like to focus on.

The day trips may not be designed to cover collection areas specific to our fellows own role profile or research but they offer them an insight into display, storage, visitor experience, exhibitions, all of which allow them to think about museums in their countries and how they compare and contrast with what they see in the UK.

The day trip will also give fellows the opportunity to experience life outside of London, which as with most capital cities, can be very different to experiences elsewhere in a country. But wherever we go, we hope the day trips will allow fellows to meet contacts in other museums to enhance their global networks and that they return to London with a wealth of new ideas which will help them in the future.

For our day trip to Oxford, we split our ITP group into two and I travelled with Choki, Haneen, Meropi, Nosiba, Salah, Siddhant, Siham and Uktamali.  We were joined by Aimée Bou Rizk, Museum Assistant, AUB Archaeological Museum who is here at the BM for the Beirut Glass Project and has been a wonderful addition to our ITP cohort this year.

Loretta Kilroe, Project Curator for Sudan and Nubia, Egypt and Sudan, who’s home is Oxford, met us at the station to guide us around and show us the sites of this wonderful, university city.

We started our day at the Bodleian Library meeting former BM colleagues Richard Parkinson, now Professor of Egyptology, University of Oxford and Daniela Rosenow, now Project Officer, The Oriental Institute, University of Oxford.  They introduced us to Madeline Slaven, Head of Exhibitions, and Andrew Wheale, Exhibitions Administrator who guided us through how they work with researchers around the University of Oxford to create, develop and deliver their exhibitions programme.

A group of people outside the Bodleian Library, Oxford

Working with books and works on paper comes with its own set of very particular challenges around display and design – particularly around audience engagement and those with special needs.  Our fellows were keen to hear how Maddy and her colleagues from the Bodleian’s digital team over come those challenges and bring audiences into the spaces.

Maddy, Richard and Daniela focused particularly on their new join project, Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive which opens on 13 April 2022 in the Treasury at the Weston Library.

Exhibition at the Weston Library

2022 marks 100 years since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and the exhibition aims to help audiences discover the story of the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb through the eyes of the archaeologists on the ground.

Richard then took us to Queens College Oxford for a tour of their wonderful buildings and a picnic lunch in the Provost’s garden.

People standing in Queens College, Oxford

After lunch we were generously hosted by the Griffith Institute – University of Oxford. The Griffith Institute was established in 1939 as the centre for Egyptology at Oxford, although the genesis of core projects date back some 40 years earlier. Francis Llewellyn Griffith, the first Professor of Egyptology at the University of Oxford, bequeathed his estate for the creation of ‘a permanent home or institute for the study of the ancient languages and antiquities of the Near East’.

There we met Francisco Bosch-Puche and Elizabeth Fleming, Assistants to the Editor of the Topographical Bibliography who gave us an overview of the wonderful and diverse collections at the Griffith Institute.  The session has many ‘wow’ moments as archive material was revealed and explained.

We finished our day with a visit to the Ashmolean Museum – the University of Oxford’s Museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683. Their world famous collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art, telling human stories across cultures and across time.

Our group was kindly welcomed by another former BM colleague, Liam McNamara, now Curator for Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the Ashmolean Museum and Director of the Griffith Institute at the University of Oxford.

A group of people in a gallery in the Ashmolean Museum

We had a wonderful day and felt so privileged to meet new colleagues and see incredible spaces and collections.  I hope that both these new and exciting connections to colleagues across the sector in Oxford will grow and continue to support our ITP global network.