Going Through the BM ITP (Adeyera Kolawole Samson, Nigeria, ITP 2023)

Written by Adeyera Kolawole Samson, Chief Conservator, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (National Museum, Ibadan)  (Nigeria, ITP 2023)

My visit to London is like a dream and it is a great experience. I boarded the plane on 30th of June from Nigeria around 11pm and I arrived at London Heathrow, around 6:30am on the 1st of July. I got my taxi to Schafer House where I was warmly welcome by the ITP manager, Claire, and the ITP Senior Fellow Ciprian Dobra, which made me feel that I am at home.

Kola pictured outside the Design Museum.

On the 3rd of July, the senior fellow led the ITP fellows to the British Museum, and showed us the shortest route which has become my normal daily route to the Museum. Being in the British Museum is like being in another world, the unique structure of the building of is very special and different from other structures all over.

The 1st day of the programme was full of orientation. Claire introduced the ITP to the 2023 fellows, explaining the six week annual programme. There was a welcome address from the Director of the British Museum, Hartwig Fischer, who officially welcomed the ITP fellows to the British Museum. The senior fellow, Ciprian Dobra, delivered his presentation which talked about his background and his roles in the 2023 annual programme, and we were later taken to our departments by various departmental representatives. My own department is Africa, Oceania and the Americas – I and 5 other fellows are in the same group. On the same day, we were introduced to our Object in Focus in the gallery by our mentor Rose. Woah!!!! It is an object from the North America Gallery, an innu hunter jacket, and it is very interesting. Julie Hudson and Helen Anderson took us through the Africa Galleries. This reminds me about my home, and we are discussing Nigerian objects, particularly the Ife and the Benin objects. This is amazing.

The fellow’s presentation on the following day were another interesting part of the ITP programme. Here all fellows were able to present themselves, sharing their names, organisations, home country and other details. This is the means of knowing each other even more beyond the ITP programme.

Another interesting part of the programme is our reflection time, the ITP walkie talkie, which asks us to reflect in pairs on how we are feeling and to discuss an object on display which reminds us of home. I quickly discussed the Ife Bronze Head located at the Africa session of the Gallery.

We have attended a series of presentations since the start of the programme, including; audiences, interpretation, volunteers, learning and national partnerships, equality and diversity, conservation, national programmes, youth programmes, community partnerships, and portable antiquities to name a few!

The most interesting and exciting part of the programme has been the trip to different museums around the UK. The first trip was to the Horniman Museum and Gardens, where I visited the different galleries such as the natural history gallery, the music gallery and the world gallery. In addition, I learned different methods of cleaning of museum collections using air extractors.

The trip to Stonehenge was another interesting trip where we visited a prehistoric monument which was built more than 2000 years in the Neolithic period and early Bronze age. It had an exciting gallery at the end of the tour. Stonehenge gave us an insight into Neolithic and Bronze age ceremony and mortuary practices. It has been one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1986 and it is the most sophisticated stone circle in the world.

I had another trip to Cambridge with my team members and the ITP coordinator George Peckham, and ITP Assistant Amelia Kedge, where I was able to visit the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Fitzwilliam Museum where there are a lots of prehistoric painted works of ancient art that can be seen and the big ceramic gallery. Warfare of the ancient days are also displayed in one of the Galleries in Fitzwilliam Museum.

To crown it up, the trip to Holland Park and the Design Museum with my AOA colleagues amazed me a lot. Here I was able to see the usefulness of wood in the construction of human habitation, where straws have been used in thatched rooves since the stone age over 4000 years ago and can still be an effective material to keep buildings warm and protect from other elements. I also saw the evolution of technology from early age to the present. 

Talking about these trips is not enough, you need to go there and see what I am talking about!