Approaching the end of the ITP (Elif Büyükgençoğlu, Turkey, ITP 2023)

Written by Elif Büyükgençoğlu, Curator, İstanbul Archaeology Museums (Turkey, ITP 2023)

Hello! My name is Elif Büyükgençoğlu and I am from Türkiye. I am an archaeologist and I have been working in the Department of Metal Artifacts and Jewelry at the İstanbul Archaeology Museums as a curator since 2015.

On the first day in London, I was feeling very excited, happy, and, I am not going to lie, a little bit nervous because I had no idea how it was going to be. Now we are in the last week and approaching the end of the programme, I have lots of memories and full of different feelings like happiness, gladness, pride, and sorrow at the same time.

Elif smiling outside the British Museum.

All us colleagues who are from different countries had great and memorable moments in the BM but we also had a lot of fun and enjoyed some other activities such as daily trips, picnics, and gatherings at Schafer House. I can’t go without saying that I am so grateful for this opportunity, and I am very glad to be a part of the ITP. I would like to express my thanks to the ITP team at the BM; Claire Messenger, George Peckham, Amelia Kedge, and Senior Fellow Ciprian Dobra. They have provided us with an environment that make us feel like a family together here, that’s why I feel a kind of sorrow now that the programme is going to be ending soon.  So, as you can guess, I have lots of memories and things I would like to say. But it takes forever. I would prefer to focus on some highlights of the ITP from my point of view…

The first one is the partner museum placement experience. I was in Manchester and had the opportunity to visit the Manchester Art Gallery, the Manchester Museum, and the Whitworth Art Gallery as the partner placements. I really appreciated this part of the ITP because observing small-scale and local museums with different aspects and understanding of museology was a great experience for me. I was amazed to see that these museums are very radical, open-minded, innovative, and more political in expressing different perspectives for people from the stages of life in the museum displays and engagement activities. They are commonly very inclusive for all stages of society and have great engagement projects for both young and older people. The museums are not only regular museums, but also, they function as a social and cultural hub for the community.

Another highlight was the day trip to Colchester which is an important city as it was the first Roman capital of Britain. We walked through the walls from the Roman period and saw the oldest surviving gateway in Britain which was called Balkerne Gate, and also visited the Colchester Castle Museum and Roman Circus Visitor Centre.  It was also a privilege that Thomas Kiely, who is the curator in the Department of Greece and Rome at the BM, and Ciprian Dobra, who is a Roman expert and a curator in the Principia Museum in Romania, were with us on this trip. Both were very passionate and willing to share their knowledge and experiences with us, making it such a great experience.

The time that I spent in the UK will be always memorable for the rest of my life, not only in a professional way but also in my personal life. I have the feeling that the British Museum is my second home museum from now on.  I have a better understand of what it means to be a part of an international network, and what collaboration means exactly, and I now know lots of colleagues from all over the world with whom I can communicate and collaborate with in the future. Besides this, before coming here I was feeling very overwhelmed about my work recently, but the ITP reminded me how important it is to be passionate and motivated about my job. I am very glad that I am coming back to my home museum with lots of ideas and projects in my mind.