Posted by: BM ITP | October 27, 2014

Meeting Balsam in Warsaw

Riding a train to Warsaw in early October feels like watching some kind of show. Gold and  yellow are colours in fashion these days and the trees along the railways track seem to follow suit. I am happy to be whizzing through Mazowsze in that unexpected time window between jobs. Or I should say contracts. With two weeks off before my new British Museum contract starts (this time for a full year!) I didn’t think for long before booking tickets home.

My Warsaw social calendar is already quite busy. I have only told some friends I was coming – I am trying to keep it easy. I would like to have time to wander around and rediscover the city without rushing from place to place. Also I want to visit Balsam Shakal (ITP 2014) in the National Museum and see how the preparations for the Sudanese exhibition are going and also what her perception of Poland is.

But I don’t seem to be very lucky. My texts must be getting lost and I cannot contact her on her British mobile either.  So I decide to go straight to the Museum and ask there. It has been a while since I have been there, the last time probably the Night in the Museum before I moved out of Warsaw.  Quite embarrassing but I don’t remember which door is the main entrance! Both gates are open but the area seems quiet at lunchtime and I hesitate about which way to go. I follow my intuition and I get it right. I get to the main hall and make my way to the Information Desk/Gift Shop. A group of school children is there trying desperately to spend every ‘zloty’ they have been given by their parents. Some seem to know exactly what they want, others just want to get rid of their pocket money, as if leaving the museum without a souvenir was some kind of a dishonour. Good for the museum shop. I ask for a person whom I know has been looking after Balsam but again no luck.  Alexandra is out of office that day so is my ITP friend. Hmmm… I am not a person who gives up easily. Quite opposite, even little challenges excite me, give me a thrill of an adventure. I ask for Balsam’s accommodation address which I know is somewhere in the Old Town about 30 min walk. The weather is glorious: a sunny day, +26C, blue skies. I can make my way there by foot. But before I turn into Nowy Swiat I decide to have a quick stroll around Plac Trzech Krzyzy. It has always been a bit of a posh place with expensive boutiques, galleries and once favourite cafés. My cafés have been replaced with new ones and there are some new galleries. I spot an Ada Bucholc painting on a board which I like.

I turn around and walk towards Nowy Swiat. So good to see Joanna Rajkowska’s Palm Tree still there – I remember when the ‘Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue’ art project caused much controversy and was regarded as totally out of place. Twelve years on, the palm tree is a part of the Warsaw scenery, and no one seems to protest against it.

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I walk Krakowskie Przedmiescie, passing by the University of Warsaw, the Parliament and stop for a while to look at the Trasa W-Z with its passing trams. I am not far from the Old Town Museum where Balsam is based. When I get there and ask for my ITP friend a staff member walks me to a quiet backyard and points the way. I climb the stairs to the third floor and knock at the door. I can hear Balsam’s voice and tell her: ‘It’s me, Sylwia’. The answer I get is: ‘Are you sure’? Of course I am sure!

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The door opens and Balsam gives me a huge hug. This time I have been really lucky, Balsam was just about to leave to meet a friend. She cancels her appointment and off we go to have lunch together. When deciding where to go it turns out she has never tried pierogi, the traditional Polish dumplings. And she hasn’t even heard of them! What has she been doing for the last month? Off we go to Bar Mleczny and order a portion with blueberries and cream for her and with meat stuffing for me. We also get a fruit kompot. We need to get it right after all. Balsam looks relaxed and happy. While here in Warsaw she focuses on research and also uses the opportunity to visit other nearby cities. There is another  ex- ITP participant from Sudan but I don’t get to meet her, she is off to Sweden this week.

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We set off for a little walk around the New Town, pass a Maria Sklodowska- Curie (whom Balsam is a big fan of) statue and sit on a bench overlooking the Vistula River and Praga District. We chat about ITP, how wonderful it was and how great it would be to see everyone again some time in the future. We laugh remembering all the funny moments we have had. When we part we both feel there is no reason to be sad. Our paths will cross again, after London and Warsaw next time it is going to be somewhere in Sudan that we meet.

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Sylwia Janik,

Ancient Egypt and Sudan Department

Posted by: BM ITP | October 16, 2014

Constantinos Vasiliadis – My days in Dresden

08.10.2014

Hello everyone from Dresden!

A few days before I participated in the ITP programme, I was informed that I had been chosen to be the “Dresden fellow” of the year. With the Dresden fellowship, beside the funding to participate in the ITP, I would have the opportunity to go to the Staatlische Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) in Germany.

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After the ITP was over, it seemed that it had not finished for me, as I experienced a smaller “ITP” in the days that followed!
So here I am! I arrived in Dresden on Sunday the 5th of October and I am leaving tomorrow! Here I had the opportunity to meet the Director General, Professor Dr Hartwig Fischer, colleagues from the conservation department and to visit some of the 14 museums of the SKD. I can say that I am astonished by the variety and the abundance of the collections and I really suggest you put a visit to Dresden in your travel plans!

Costas Blog Photo 2 With Reiner Thiel, conservator of sculptures, I had the opportunity to discuss issues concerning our job and to walk around the collection and the storerooms. I also enjoyed a nice tour through the historical centre of Dresden, with him explaining to me the history of the Museum Network. He also shared with me his passion for the armoury when visiting the relevant collections in the Royal Palace. We also visited together with Hans Effenberger the amazing collection of casts and moulds, of almost all known monuments and sculptures of different periods from all over the world.

Costas Blog Photo 3With Professor Ursula Krak, head of the conservation department, and Astrid Nielsen, sculptures department, I visited the conservation studios and spoke with conservators about their work. I would say that it looked smaller than the WCEC, but only in size!

The last day we said goodbye over a really nice lunch. All the people I’ve met here welcomed me, and I really feel that I have some new friends and colleagues in Dresden. Therefore I would like to express my appreciation to the ITP and the Dresden Museum for giving me this opportunity!

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Costas Vasiliadis
Senior Conservator,
Acropolis Museum

Posted by: BM ITP | October 16, 2014

The Museums Association Conference – Session 1

Credit: Museums Association

Last week the annual Museums Association conference was held in Cardiff, Wales. The largest museums convention in Europe, it is a fantastic opportunity for museum professionals to network and share solutions for the future of cultural heritage. It is also a great way to gain ideas for the ITP!

This year marked the 125th anniversary of the MA, whose mission is “to enhance the value of museums to society by sharing knowledge, developing skills, inspiring innovation and providing leadership”.

On day 1, we attended lectures and workshops on pluralism, pop up museums, international collaboration and museum ethics. Below is a summary of the first session.

Session 1: “The World Is More Plural Than We Think”

This lecture introduced delegates to new perspectives across the museum world. Speakers from three different countries – Brazil, Canada and Argentina, spoke of their approaches to the ‘Museums Change Lives’ document, a manifesto by the Museums Association, and offered advice for museums in the face of political and financial problems.

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Brazil: Antônio Vieira, Director, Museu da Maré.

Antônio began by saying that museums should not be afraid of their public, should stamp down on prejudice and change their attitude to society. “Museums are institutions of society and they face the same dilemmas” – therefore they must be more open and come out of their comfort zones. Antônio also spoke of the great potential of museums to be social spaces, encouraging intergenerational dialogue when society is “fragmented”.

Antônio discussed how museums are affected by budget cuts, and how Brazil has 350 museums for 200 million people – a huge population! The main problem, he said, is that people are intimidated by museums. He spoke of his belief in the importance of the land, where people live, in helping museums reach out. If museums understand the local community, there will be a larger sense of responsibility.

He gave advice on what to do when money is short: open up more volunteering opportunities, encourage a sense of community ownership, and be creative. “Having money is good, but creativity is infinite”.

Finally, Antônio announced that museums are fundamental agents in helping to build the society we really want. Daring, he said, is the key word – as is freedom.

Canada: J’net AyAy Qwa Yak Sheelth, Outreach and Learning Coordinator, Royal Ontario Museum.

J'net AyAy Qwa Yak Sheelth

Credit: Museums Association

J’net is the first indigenous full-time member of staff at the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada in its 100-year history.

Beginning with the passing of a kaleidoscope around the room, J’net spoke of the need for different perspectives, “to see the world through new eyes” and to “thaw out colonised minds”.

She spoke specifically of difficulties facing indigenous communities during economic troubles. When funding cuts came to Canada, it was not just for Canadian arts, but for indigenous arts. J’net also gave some great advice to help us re-consider our collections – to think not of objects, but of ancestors and as items from living cultures, saved for unborn generations.

Speaking of the lack of diversity in museums in the Western world, particularly Canada and the UK, J’net announced: “we need more colour in our museums”.

A major highlight of her talk was her work on the Youth Leadership Programme – a way for indigenous young people to play leadership roles and add their voice to the community, and to the country’s story.

Argentina: Americo Castilla, Fundacion TyPA:

Americo told delegates how culture is a delicate balance of different interpretations. Sometimes, when these interpretations are in conflict – leading to funding cuts, social issues, and so on, people retreat into their communities and become less open.

He spoke of the potential of small community museums to be platforms for different thinking and dissent. Whereas other media such as newspapers have an established format, museums can be creative and expressive.

Americo gave an example of the Museo Taller Ferrowhite as a museum which is politically active, subversive but importantly, fun. Discussing his belief that museums can be playful as well as serious, he recommended that other museums consider this attitude in their work.

Finally, David Anderson, President of the Museums Association, expressed a statement very close to the core values of the International Training Programme:

“There is great diversity in museum practice across the world; this diversity is an enormous resource for us as we strive to find models that can work.”

This is an important point for the ITP – we can make our institutions the best they can be by celebrating different approaches and learning from our colleagues across the world.

Posted by: BM ITP | October 8, 2014

ITP 2014: Room 3 Exhibition Proposals

A major highlight of the ITP each year is the Room 3 Project. Room 3 at the British Museum is a unique space. Its compact size and separation from other galleries makes it suitable for temporary exhibitions which focus on particular pieces, rather than entire cultures or geographical areas. The “Objects in Focus” series consists of short term exhibitions created around a single object, exploring anything from the process of its manufacture to the context in which it was used.

In 2014, each participant was asked to plan and propose a temporary exhibition for Room 3.  Drawing on their existing museum experience, their knowledge of their own cultures, and the skills learnt during the Programme, each participant selected an object from the Museum’s collection around which to design their exhibition.  Participants were encouraged to think not just about objects, concepts and interpretation, but also audiences, marketing, merchandising and events.

Shubha Banerji discussing her exhibition proposal

The projects were then shown at a reception for invited staff and sponsors. The evening was a great success, the 2014 ITP participants showcasing their hard work and creativity with projects focusing on everything from Chinese tea culture to Armenian miniature clothing. Below are the titles of their exhibition proposals:

ARMENIA:

Marine Mkrtchyan: “Life in Miniature: Armenian dress at the British Museum

CHINA:

Yu Miao: “Ritual and Music in the Bronze Age of China

Qi Yue: “Three Purity Tea Bowl: the Secret of Emperor Qianlong’s Tea Taste

EGYPT:

Alaa Bakeer: “Revealing the Mystery of Amulets in the Ancient World

Asmaa el-Rabat: “Daily Life in Ancient Egypt in the Past and Present

Marwa Salem Eid: “The story of the Hieroglyphic Letters

GREECE:

Mostafa Dehpahlavan showing his exhibition proposal to guests

Mostafa Dehpahlavan showing his exhibition proposal to guests

Constantinos Vasiliadis: “Kekrops: the great King of Athens” (slideshow here)

INDIA:

Shubha Banerji: “Shell Bangles of Bengali Shankha, Symbol and Society

Wunglengton Yazing Shimray: “The Vrindavani Vastra: a Celestial Delight

IRAN:

Mostafa Dehpahlavan: “Royal Archer

LEBANON:

Rhea Dagher: “Narratives of the Lebanese Civil War 1975-1990: Jean-Marc Nahas paints it all

OMAN:

Ameena Al-Abri: “Frankincense in Oman

PAKISTAN:

Hajra Haider: “Hokusai; On The Way To Mount Fuji

PALESTINE:

O’bour Hashash: “Continuity and Change: Palestinian Embroidery Today

Waad Awisat: “Alexander the Great and the Gold of Babylon

SUDAN:

Balsam Abdelhamed Shakal: “Ostrich Eggs of Sudan: Tradition from Past to Present

TURKEY:

Şeyda Çetin: “William Pars: Western Turkey in watercolour”.  (Marking the 250th anniversary of the Ionian Expedition to Turkey)

Berkay Küçükbaşlar: “Fragment of a marble fluting: two flutes

Fatih Yucel: “Temple of Artemis in Ephesus and John Turtle Wood

Participants Şeyda Çetin and Rhea Dagher with Mahmoud Hawari, Curator Islamic Collections discussing the exhibition proposals

Participants Şeyda Çetin and Rhea Dagher with Mahmoud Hawari, Curator Islamic Collections discussing the exhibition proposals

It has truly been a pleasure to see the results of all of our participants’ time and effort, and we are already looking forward to seeing the proposals for next year!

Emma Croft, ITP Assistant

Posted by: BM ITP | October 3, 2014

Amani Basheer, Kitchen Talk

Last Friday, ITP 2014 participant Amani Basheer, Director of the Shikan Museum in Sudan, gave a fascinating presentation on her work and home institution during one of our weekly ‘kitchen talks’.

Department kitchen talks are opportunities for staff and visiting scholars to come together and share knowledge, give presentations on their projects, and discuss current museum issues. Normally held in the kitchen or the study room, they have an informal atmosphere and encourage conversation.

Amani Basheer gave her presentation on her daily work at the Shikan Museum, North Kordofan State. After sharing a brief introduction to the history of Sudan and of her province, Amani described the vital role her museum has to play in narrating this history to wider audiences. The Shikan museum was built in the city of El Obeid, near the site of an historic battle between the British army, led by Hicks Pasha, and Mohammed Ahmed’s forces, during the ‘Mahdist War’.

Amani explained how the museum focused on two areas – the documented history of this major battle, including weapons and artefacts, and Sudanese antiquities from pre-history to the Islamic era. She showed us some wonderful photos of the museum’s collection, including a brand new third wing which displays Sudanese folklore and daily life.

One of the most interesting aspects of the presentation was the importance of volunteers to the running of the museum. Amani clearly has a dedicated volunteer team who are greatly valued, and help to maintain the community sense of her institution.

It was a pleasure to have Amani with us during the ITP, and to learn about her important work in Sudan. We wish her the best of luck in the future!

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Amani discussing her presentation with BM staff.

If you would like to see Amani’s presentation, please click here: ورقه بعنوان متحف شيكان

Posted by: BM ITP | October 1, 2014

Two Weeks at the British Museum

On Friday 13 September 2014 Ameena Alabri, Asmaa El-Rabat and I arrived at the Imperial Hotel in London from Oxford, where I met Claire, Emma, Sylwia and Jana for the first time. They were wonderful and friendly welcomed me strongly. After meeting with them I went to the British Museum to see Dr. Ahmad Hussein, the Director of the Archaeology Department in Khartoum University, my teacher and my friend who came from Cambridge especially to see me.

In the evening the British Museum threw a dinner party for all participants and programme representatives. It was very exciting to meet all the participants who welcomed me warmly and sympathised with me about my initial difficulties coming on the programme. They are very friendly I wish I had been with them from the beginning. I also met great scholars in Sudanese archaeological fieldwork and research. Having heard about them in Sudan, I was happy and proud to finally see Drs. Derek Welsby and Julie R. Anderson face to face and have dinner with them on one table. I also got to know Dr. Mahmoud Hawari, Claire Messenger, Emma Croft, Sylwia and other staff. The party was wonderful, stylish, beautiful and very interesting. We all enjoyed it very much.

On Monday 15 September 2014 I started my individual, special ITP. Jana brought me to the BM where I met with Emma and Claire. We had a meeting, introduction, departmental tour and discussion of the programme.

At 2:00 I saw Susanne Woodhouse, Ann el-Mokadem Librarian, for an introduction to the library and research time.

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Susanne Woodhouse and Amani

In the 15 day period of the intensive programme, the ITP covered many aspects of training. This included libraries and research, collections management and storage with Collections Manager Evan York, a tour of “Ancient Lives” with Marie Vandenbeusch, curator, a discussion of the Sudanese collections with Derek Welsby, curator, and an overview of conservations work in the BM and in Sudan with Tracey Sweek, conservator. I was also able to visit other museums, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum with Sylwia. In the final week I had sessions in collection packing, scientific research with Philippa Ryan, principle investigator, Historical Background of the BM and Visitor Services with Emma Croft, ITP Assistant, and a session on human remains with Daniel Antoine, Physical Anthropology Curator.

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The Victoria & Albert Museum

During the training programme I visited two important UK Cities – firstly Manchester, a city of sports, and Birmingham, a city of industry.

I travelled to Manchester on the evening of the 19th of August by bus (which takes four and a half hours!) and spent two interesting days with my friends. The most important part of this trip however was an historical visit to Manchester United’s football stadium and museum – it was a wonderful weekend. I also got to know Birmingham on Thursday, spending all day visiting my sister and the Birmingham Art Museum.

Finally, I would like to thank Dr Abdelrahmen Ali, NCAM General Director, who nominated me for this programme. Great thanks to the British Museum – a museum providing well organised and interesting training courses and study programmes for professionals to achieve higher standards in their various specialities. Thank you to Neal Spencer, Director of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, Claire Messenger, Emma Croft and Sylwia Janik. Thank you to Jana Alaraj for her generosity, and for solving any issues I faced when first arrived.

A final thank you to my sponsor, Mrs Michel David-Weill.

Amani Yousif Basheer Idris
ITP Participant 2014

Posted by: BM ITP | September 30, 2014

The ITP Clore Display

The 2014 ITP has finished, and the time has come to take down our display from the British Museum’s Clore Education Centre.

Every year, as part of our preparations for the International Training Programme, the team chooses a selection of quotes, images and text to create a display for the British Museum’s Clore Education Centre.The Clore Education Centre is an area for young and adult learners to attend classes, lectures and workshops arranged by the museum. It is also a popular space for conferences and corporate events.

Clore 1

This varied use of the centre makes it an ideal location for a display on the ITP – it is an opportunity to give the general public, and potential sponsors, important information about the programme. One of the ways of helping the ITP continue year on year is through making sure as many people as possible take an interest and for this, visibility is vital.

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Through the display we are able to answer potential questions, and explain our mission in a succinct and attractive way. This includes: What is the ITP (our summer programme, our partners and projects)? What is the purpose of the ITP? How is the ITP supported? And what are our plans for the future (such as our legacy projects)?

photo2photo3Our display remained in place from July and for the duration of the summer programme, attracting the attentions of thousands of members of the public, staff members and sponsors.

Creating a display is a visually stimulating and straight forward way to engage audiences, and although it requires a great deal of initial effort, the affect is well worth the work. What temporary displays do you have in your museums, and what do they show?

Past participant facilitator Jana Alaraj, putting up the Clore Display

Past participant facilitator Jana Alaraj, working hard while arranging the Clore Display

If you would like to see the text and images for the display, click here: Clore Display

Posted by: BM ITP | September 25, 2014

Staff Breakfast – ‘Ming: 50 Years That Changed China’

Yesterday staff at the British Museum were given a unique opportunity to hear from the central team behind this year’s BP exhibition: ‘Ming: 50 Years That Changed China’. After refreshments in the exhibition foyer Jessica Harrison-Hall, curator, discussed the challenges of staging an exhibition for such a broad and complex subject. The Ming Dynasty was the ruling dynasty of China for 276 years, in charge of an empire spanning thousands of miles. So how to condense this history into an exhibition for the public? The art is to balance scope with scale: either to narrow the field of vision to a much smaller geographical area, or to focus on a particular time period. Therefore, the choice of 50 years, between AD 1400 and 1450, was seen as an excellent one. It enabled the exhibition team to focus on the dynasty’s burgeoning connections with the outside world during a period of great prosperity and creativity, while keeping the scope broad and supporting an international perspective.

Following the talk, staff were able to explore the exhibition during their own private view.

Portrait of an official in front of the Beijing imperial palace

The exhibition space, inside the new Sainsbury’s Exhibition Gallery, is well designed and allows visitors to wander without overcrowding. Colourful red and yellow walls, with some stylised Chinese decorations, help create a more immersive and visually pleasant experience for visitors. An introductory video at the beginning of the exhibition created a welcoming space to introduce those without much knowledge to the period and its importance in Chinese history. The exhibition itself is a great success at making people rethink the artistry and complexity of the Ming dynasty. Most people in the Western world associate Ming with beautiful ceramics, but while there are some stunning examples on display, they do not dominate. Objects such as paintings, ceremonial swords, miniature shrines and lacquerware show an empire of remarkable creativity.

Overall, Ming: 50 Years That Changed China is an interesting case study for ITP participants. It tackles many questions about interpretation, design, and curation which you may want to consider for your own exhibitions in future: how to condense and ‘simplify’ a broad and complex topic, how to introduce that topic to your audience, how to choose objects to tell a particular story, how to interpret a space to reflect your exhibition’s theme, and finally, how to make your exhibition distinct.

Presentation sword (jian) and scabbard © Royal Armouries

Posted by: BM ITP | September 24, 2014

2014 ITP Participant Amani Bashir from Sudan

Hello everyone and Al-salam Aleikom,

I am Amani Basheer from Sudan. I’m the Director of the Shikan Museum in Elobied, the capital of North Kordofan State which is located in west Sudan. This is my first time in the United Kingdom and at the British Museum.

Although I was not able to join the International Training Program when it first started on the 3rd of August, luckily the British Museum solved all difficulties and I finally arrived in the United Kingdom in September. For that I would like to thank the British Museum for their tremendous efforts for helping me to get my Visa and special thanks to; Neal Spencer, Claire Messenger and Emma Croft.

I would like to say that the British Museum is unique, distinct and one of the only museums in the world that provides  organized intensive training courses to help practitioners achieve higher levels in their various specialties, which of course creates a platform for overseas cultural exchange.
Therefore I would like to deeply express my appreciation for giving me this opportunity and nominating me as a participant at the International Training Programme. I believe that my experience and skills will evolve after the completion of this programme, and indeed it is a pleasure to be here in the United Kingdom.
When I first arrived in the UK I started my programme at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which is one of the International Training Programme’s UK Partner museums. There I first met other participants from the ITP: Asmaa from Egypt and Ameena from Oman, and also Liam McNamara, Assistant Keeper for Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the Ashmolean.

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The programme in oxford was very exciting and interesting.  We visited lots of departments and sections in the Ashmolean Museum such as; Collection management, Storage, Conservation, Galleries, Database, Registration, Education, Libraries research, and the Griffith Institute. We also visited some Oxford Colleges and went for a tour of the Pitt Rivers Museum.

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We also saw a lot of interesting things in Oxford, as on Monday the 8th of September several streets were closed in the center of Oxford for the St Giles Fair. The fair is organized by the Oxford City Council with the London and Home Counties section of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain.  The street is closed to traffic for two days for this traditional fair, so we had an enjoyable time, playing, dancing and taking a lot of photos.

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On our last day at the Ashmolean Museum we said goodbye to our new friends and Liam McNamara gave us books as gifts. He is friendly, kind and polite – we will never forget him.

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Thank you very much

Amani Basheer / Sudan

Posted by: BM ITP | September 11, 2014

My work experience in the ITP 2014

On Monday 18th August I arrived at the British Museum for my first day of work experience in the department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan. I was very excited and raring to go! I began by creating packs of materials for the Museum assistant’s workshops in the afternoon, during which I was asked by Claire to help her take the Gayer-Anderson Cat replica to the Sackler rooms for the photography talk. It was a very funny experience walking through the galleries holding a big orange bag containing the Gayer-Anderson cat (replica)! When I later returned to collect the cat I was able to listen to Emily’s talk about the job of the Museum assistants. I found the talk very interesting; I had no idea how much they did!

Later in the afternoon I joined in with the ITP participants and went around the Museum Assistant workshops. It was the first time that I met the participants and I was quite nervous! Although soon I was chatting and laughing with everyone as if I had been there for weeks and not a few hours! The workshops were really interesting and great fun, I learnt how to make labels and mounts, pack items safely, document scratches on items before they go on loan and monitor and identify pests!

My first day of work experience was fantastic and I went home wanting the next day to come quickly!

I arrived on Tuesday and met everyone at the information desk; I was very excited for Tuesday as we were going around the new WCEC building to look at the new conservation and science labs. As soon as everyone had arrived we walked to the new building which was very flash with giant doors so that huge objects could be moved easily to the conservation labs. We started with a talk from David Saunders (who is the Head of Conservation and Scientific Research) and then split into groups for our tours.

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The first stop on our tour was the stone and mosaic conservation studio where we received an interesting introduction of the work they did in the studio and a demonstration of the cleaning of a granite statue of Senwosret III. The statue appeared to be black, but when cleaned of all the particles and pollution from the galleries, was actually a greenish colour. We were also given a talk by Michael (an intern from UCL) who showed us his skilled conservation of Egyptian wall art which had been left crumbling by rusting metal rods that held the stone together.

Next on our tour was the Western art and paper conservation studio where we were given a brief overview about what they did in the studio. We then moved around the room to talk to different members of the studio who showed us what they did and the different instruments they used to conserve the art and the paper.

Our third stop on our tour was the Organics conservation studio where we were given a whistle-stop tour of the different rooms on the floor and told about the room’s specific uses.

Finally we went to the Ceramics and Metals conservation studio where we were talked to by the different members of the studio who showed us the objects they were working on and what they were doing to the objects. We also received another whistle-stop tour of the rooms and their uses in this studio.

After our tours of the conservation studios we all went for lunch and built up our energy again for the next tours.

Next we went back to the WCEC building and had tours around the science labs and research facilities where we saw all the amazing technology that the scientists could use to identify elements in objects and particles in pottery.

I had an amazing day on Tuesday and learnt a lot about conservation and scientific research. I also got to know the ITP participants better and talked to them about where they came from and what they did.

On Wednesday the ITP participants all went to Cambridge so I spent my day working in the office with Claire, Emma, Jana, Sylwia and Tania. I created maps for the Horniman trip showing how to get from the Horniman Museum back to Euston and I am now positive that I could make the trip in my sleep! I also got to meet Shezza’s little baby girl; she was very, very cute and made the whole office go ‘awww’! I did some office work for the rest of the day which gave me a bit of a rest from the full packed days of Monday and Tuesday. I went home very excited and anxious as on Thursday I was going to the Horniman Museum with everyone but I was also going to get my GCSE results!

Thursday morning came and I awoke very excited! I walked to Schafer house to meet everyone and we all got on the coach to go to the Horniman Museum. It was a quick journey and we were at the Horniman Museum in no time! We were met at the gate and taken to the pavilion where we had tea, saw a three-week old baby Alpaca and received a talk from Janet Vitmayer. Soon we were all off on our tours of the museum.

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We first were given a tour around the Centenary gallery by Fiona Kerlogue which was very interesting as it was displayed as it would have been displayed in Victorian times; this meant the room was very dark and lots of objects were placed into the cases, fitting as many in as possible! Next we went into the Extremes exhibition which was very fun as it was interactive and had a great atmosphere! Finally we were given a tour around the music collection by Mimi Waitzman which was very interesting and informative. She even gave us a performance on one of the instruments.

We later all split off into guided tours of other parts of the museum. I went to the Aquarium which was extremely fun and the displays were very cool! We got to see a lobster, butterflies, jellyfish and even tree frogs! Jamie Craggs was our guide and he took us behind the scenes to where they were breeding tree frogs, jelly fish and even coral. The Horniman Museum was the first institute in the world to attempt to breed coral! Rhea and I even got to hold the tree frogs of which the Horniman has three species!

After our tours it was time for lunch where I got to know the ITP participants even better and got to talk to the Horniman staff.

After lunch it was our free time to go around the museum. I chose to go and have a look at the Natural History part of the Museum as it was the only part of the museum I hadn’t seen yet! It was very interesting and reminded me of a museum near home.

Soon it was time to go home, but I had had a lovely day which I will remember for ever! I it was a very anxious journey home as I was going to see my GCSE results in the evening but all was well as I was very happy with my results and it resulted in the perfect end to a perfect day!

I arrived at the museum on Friday morning feeling both happy and sad. I was happy as I love doing work experience here and have had a fantastic week, but I was also sad as it was my last day! I have had such a lovely week and I would like to thank Claire, Emma, Jana, Sylwia and the ITP participants for putting up with me all week!

THANKYOU!

Elysia Gwilliam

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