BM ITP: My experience so far (Oge Okpalanozie, Nigeria, ITP 2023)

Written by Ogechukwu Elizabeth Okpalanozie, Heritage Conservator, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (National Museum, Lagos) (Nigeria, ITP 2023)

My name is Ogechukwu Elizabeth Okpalanozie, a heritage conservator at National Commission for Museums and Monuments (National Museum, Lagos), Nigeria.

I arrived Schafer House, London (Fellows’ residence), on 1st July 2023 and was warmly received by Claire Messenger (ITP Manager) and Ciprian Dobra (Senior Fellow). Their friendly welcome made me feel at home.

So far, it has been a good ride: from the learning at the British Museum, to visiting different sites of interest and going to Horniman Museums and Gardens. The first day at the BM was for orientation. Claire gave us a history of the ITP and told Fellows what is expected from them. Hartwig Fischer, the Director of the BM, also welcomed the Fellows. On the same day, Fellows from Africa, Oceania and the Americas (AOA) countries were taken to AOA department by Awet Araya where we had lunch with the staff. They were very friendly.

The Fellows’ presentations gave us a highlight of what each one does as well as an overview of everyone’s institution. This was helpful in knowing one another’s background. The tour of the galleries was interesting. I was fascinated by the Holy Thorn Reliquary in the Waddesdon Bequest Gallery. It has gold, sapphires, rubies, and pearls. It contained a thorn supposedly obtained from the Crown of Thorns of Jesus Christ. The walkie-talkie exercise structured by the ITP Team was fun. In the exercise I toured the Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece exhibition with Twana Mamand, a Fellow from Iraq. The objects in the Pamagyurishte glass case were amazing to both of us.

The Holy Thorn Reliquary in the Waddesdon Bequest Gallery.

The tour of the African Galleries with Julie Hudson and Helen Anderson brought me face-to-face with objects from my country, Nigeria, such as the Benin bronzes and ivory, the Igbo masquerade costumes and the Igbo-Ukwu bronzes.

The Benin Bronzes .

The lecture by Stuart Frost gave me knowledge of museum audience; and Megan Ryder and Sophie Sims’s session on volunteers opened my eyes to the role of volunteers in a museum and how a museum can work with them. I also had an interesting and educative session at the Conservation and Scientific Research department. I had an interactive session with different specialist conservators on the work they do. The scientists in the Scientific Research department told Fellows the need and role of science in museum collections. They use state-of-the-art equipment to answer questions asked by curators when information is lacking for an object.

The visit to the Horniman Museum and Gardens was another great experience. Fellows toured the galleries and I saw a showcase dedicated to the 60th anniversary of Nigeria independence. I learnt about content and social engagement too.

Photograph of the display at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, celebrating 60 years of Nigerian independence.

My co-fellows have made my stay happy; we have formed a family here and are our brother’s keeper. The ITP team, Claire Messenger, George Peckham and Amelia Kedge have been quite nice to us and Ciprian Dobra, the Senior Fellow, have been playing an elder brother’s role to us.

I look forward to more interesting days ahead!