As-salamu alaykum! Peace be upon you (Dina Gohar, Egypt, ITP 2023)

Written by Dina Gohar, Curator, Alexandria National Museum (Egypt, ITP 2023)

Welcome to my blog for ITP 2023 from London. My name is Dina Gohar and I am from Egypt. Currently, I work as a curator at the Alexandria National Museum, where I have been for the past 11 years. My journey to London began when I received an invitation letter to be one of the fellows for ITP 2023. It was a mix of excitement and nervousness as it would be my first time traveling outside of Egypt and leaving my son behind.

However, the opportunity to fulfill my dream of visiting the British Museum and preparing papers for my work made all those feelings relax. I must say that everything with the ITP team has been incredibly organized. They have prepared everything well in advance and sent all necessary information on time. Our trip went smoothly and everything was on schedule, and I was eagerly anticipating meeting the person who sends emails and prepares all the papers, especially since I had heard about her sweet personality from previous ITP fellows from Egypt: Claire Messenger, of course! I have gotten to know the best ITP team, they gave us a warm welcome and understand our needs during our stay. They are very helpful in answering every question we have. Special thanks to George, Amelia, and the senior fellow Ciprian, as they have provided excellent support and guidance throughout our residence. They warmly welcomed us and made sure we understood how our stay would go. They were always available to answer any questions we had and made us feel very welcomed.

At the beginning of the week, we had the pleasure of meeting Claire, who gave us a warm welcome and explained all the details of the programme. We also had the opportunity to meet Hartwig Fischer, the Director of the British Museum. He introduced us and took an interest in our passion for museums. As soon as I arrived in front of the British Museum’s gate, I couldn’t believe it was real. It felt like a dream come true. Meeting new people from different countries made me feel like part of a big family.

One of my first stops in the museum was at the Rosetta Stone. Standing next to it made me realize that I was indeed awake and not dreaming! It was a surreal experience. Throughout the past month, we have attended numerous lectures on various topics related to museology, having the opportunity to explore all departments of the museum. Overall, my experience with the ITP team and my time at the British Museum has been incredible. The warm welcome, support, and knowledge shared have made this an unforgettable experience.

I am now writing after coming back from my partner museum placement in Manchester. It was a different experience and changed my thinking a lot. I, Rucha, Elif and Ninh met Ronan, Steven, and Campbell from the Manchester partner museums who made us feel very welcome. We enjoyed Manchester Art Gallery with Ronan and I was very happy to see the family activities he runs. He even threw us a lovely goodbye party with traditional cake and English tea. At the Whitworth Art gallery we met Stephen. We very much enjoyed their different activity programmes, especially for older people. As for Campbell in the Manchester Museum, I was very happy with the different display methods in the museum, especially since the object labels in the Egypt and Sudan section are written in Arabic. I really appreciate this very much. I was very impressed when I found a place in the museum dedicated to prayer, and a picnic place for families and students. I was very happy to talk with Campbell about Egyptian civilization, especially his exhibition on golden mummies. Manchester Museum is an example of sustainable museums in UK and applies many standards of sustainability. They have a ‘Carbon Ruins Manchester’ exhibition to tell the story about the journey to zero carbon and more sustainable ways of living. I will share everything about the experience I gained when I am back with my colleagues, and we will develop our plans to reach sustainability in Egypt’s museums. We also learned about the history of industrialisation in Manchester and saw various technological advancements.

Overall, the trip to Manchester has been eye-opening and enriching. I have gained a deeper understanding of museology and the importance of museums in preserving culture and educating the public. I have also learned to be more confident in expressing my opinions and sharing my thoughts with others. I am grateful for this experience and the friendships I have made along the way. It has truly been a transformative journey that I will cherish forever. I was very happy with the time I spent with the ITP fellows at the partner museum placement, and I felt that we got closer to each other. One of the highlights of the trip was going to Liverpool, where we visited the stadium, but I didn’t see Mo Salah so hopefully next time Insha’Allah.

I wanted to express my current feelings as the program is coming to an end. I had previously mentioned to Claire that before joining the ITP, I felt like I was working in the dark. However, now my thinking and mindset have been enlightened by the ITP, and it has completely transformed me. As we have only 10 days left before returning to my country, I have mixed emotions. I will miss everything about the British Museum, London, and all my friends and the amazing ITP team. At the same time, I am eager to reunite with my family and resume my work.

My experiences have given me a renewed energy to work hard, grow professionally, and apply all that I have learned during this programme, and I hope that we will all meet again.