Experiences that matter (Roshan Mishra, Nepal, ITP Senior Fellow 2022)

Written by Roshan Mishra, Director, Taragaon Museum, (Nepal, ITP Fellow 2018, Senior Fellow 2022)

My ITP programme was eight weeks long. As I near the end of my programme, I realise that I’ve witnessed and been a part of some incredible historical moments. At the start of my ITP Senior Fellow experience, Liz Truss was just appointed Prime Minister, but she is no longer one and I was present throughout the tenure of the UK’s shortest-serving prime minister. I was present when the longest reigning monarch died, and I saw the ascension of the king, who was the oldest prince. I witnessed the debate and crisis that occurred when the pound fell to its lowest level against the US dollar, and I saw the first British Asian getting into at 10 Downing Street as the country’s Prime Minister. I was fortunate to witness all of these events, it all happened in a very short duration.

Experience is important than the time duration, that is exactly what I felt from the ITP programme. Coming from South Asia to the West and being at the British Museum; eight weeks of learning experience is never enough for museum professionals, but I must admit that by the end of the programme, I was brimming with new skills, ideas, knowledge, and connections. When I recall my 2018 programme I honestly feel that it undoubtedly shaped my experience and the way I work in my museum now. As the director of the museum and having been involved with other projects; the senior fellow role was meant to be insightful for me; the role has remarkably helped me to strengthen my capacity to its next level.

Contemporary art sculptures in red and blue sit in a museum gallery

This time; after visiting so many museums, I got an impression that all of the museums are looking for change or at least they are adapting to something new. I was intrigued by how subtly the museums are introducing contemporary art within the historically and anthropologically significant spaces, and I really enjoyed that intervention. In fact, acquiring historical and cultural materials has become increasingly difficult; thus the idea of incorporating contemporary art into gallery spaces is something I strongly noticed, and I believe that it is about to bring some incredible changes within the museum space. The Reimagining the British Museum project is one that I am very interested in following because it is critically thinking about how to transform the Museum for the future and for the people. When I was listening to the Reimagining the British Museum project curator’s presentation; it gave me a good indication that new forms of visual art and contemporary voices could also be a part of the British Museum in the coming years.

One of the most exciting trips I ever took this time was to the Frieze Art Fair in London. The lucrative art fair is one of the most influential contemporary art fairs in the world, focusing solely on contemporary art and living artists. This was my first time attending such art fair in the West. It was eye-catching and mind-boggling.

Artwork at Frieze Art Fair
Artwork at Frieze Art Fair

Art and culture thrive everywhere, whether in a museum, gallery, or in an art fair. Every institution is looking for new ways to engage visitors, whether it is in a historical, ethnographic, or contemporary art space. Everyone is looking to share an experience and stories.

I’ve returned back to Kathmandu now, where reality and opportunities will collide, however my experience will continue to forge new paths and directions to make my work more profound and meaningful.