Journey from PM to BM (Gao Rui, China, ITP 2023)

Greetings from the British Museum! I’m Gao Rui from Beijing, China. I am currently working for the international exchange department at the Palace Museum, which enjoys a world-wide prestige by its another name- the Forbidden City. A ten-hour-long flight from home to London failed to establish a sense of alienation as we, the 2023 cohort, are feeling like old friends from the first meeting, as well as when the long-awaited physical meeting of the ITP team and the Asia department colleagues finally came true. As the training sessions are getting underway, I hope by the time it comes to an end, I will meet and go beyond my expectation of gaining a basic knowledge of how the UK museums operate, how the BM organizes international loans and interpretation, and working internationally with my versatile colleagues.

Photograph of the forbidden city in the snow.

The 6th July is a normal departmental day, spending the working hours with my Asia department colleagues, however the experience for today is just unusual and eye-opening! We previewed the upcoming Myanmar exhibition opening later this year under the brilliant guidance by the department mentor and curator of this exhibition Alexandra Green. By sorting out the project objectives, concepts, and key messages, we learned that a scope document is predominate in developing the curatorial idea into a physical exhibition. The introduction to the general layout by pointing out several highlight objects in each part made us increasingly curious and interested in how Myanmar unfolded in front of us, as its history is not well known to international audiences. The whole process inspired us greatly for working on our Object in Focus presentation. Today’s session ended with a fantastic tour to the Asia department storage, when Alex generously showed us some objects in storage from Southeast Asia, India and China. Everybody was reluctant to leave!

It’s a bit hard to pick one among the numerous fascinating objects by which I am overwhelmed on daily basis. If I had to name one for today, my option goes to the tidal clock as shown below. This remarkable clock tells the date, phases of moon, and times of the ebb, full and flood tides. The opening on the side reveals one of the twelve silver animals representing the days in a traditional lunar month (rabbit at the ‘entrance’ as 2023 is the year of rabbit). I was shocked by its ingenious mechanism and yet artistic presentation. You may go and find it in the Japanese gallery!

Photograph of the tidal clock.

The next blog writer I am going to introduce is Elizabeth Alvarado, Cultural Manager and Museum Specialist from Peru, who is interested in audience management, inclusion and cultural mediation, fundraising and income generation. She is looking forward to experiencing different cultures and discussing problem solving and managing challenges in smaller museums. As well as this, we have some languages in common – as we are both foodies and ‘cat persons’! I look forward to what she is going to share with us!