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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


Elysia Gwilliam

Posted by: BM ITP | September 11, 2014

ITP Diary 09th September 2014: Alaa Bakeer

A nice day in Birmingham, with a wonderful weather. This is our last week in the UK, and the count down begins, few days to return to our countries after spending the most wonderful days in the United Kingdom; those days unfortunately passed very quickly, I still remember the first day I came in as it was few hours ago. Of coincidence, just like my previous blog day which was in the conservation centre (WCEC(, today, after gathering in front of Birmingham museum and art gallery BMAG, we went to the conservation department inside the museum, where we met Ciaran and pieta (conservators) whom gave us an introduction to the collections care and conservation department by having a look at some objects which they are working on like an Egyptian mummy for a man and a chair which one of the visitors had a sit on, then we had an explanation of the x-ray and XRF machines, where one of these machines used primarily for analyzing metals and ceramics and the conservator can identify the materials resulted in a test depending on the periodic table of the elements, and another one for organic materials, and they showed us the laser machine which is used for cleaning dust and carbonate layer which is formed on copper.

An Egyptian mummy for a man

An Egyptian mummy for a man

Laser Machine

Laser Machine

After lunch we took a taxi to Soho House, one of Birmingham Museums Trust, which was the elegant home of industrialist and entrepreneur Matthew Boulton from 1766 to 1809,  actually he was a founding member of the Lunar Society, a group of great thinkers and inventors who met regularly at his home Soho House, We had a tour in this fashionable Georgian house features period room interiors with fine collections of silver, furniture and paintings, and one of the important things to know that Soho house had the first under floor heating system! Where there was a stove in the lower cellar heated air which was then circulated around the building by convection.

Soho house

Soho house

Lunar room inside Soho house

Lunar room inside Soho house

When we finished our visit, two of us and Adam (curator, BM Trust and the person whom is responsible of our group) decided to go back walking, so we had the chance to enjoy exploring more of Birmingham city, we went through soho road which is in a district includes primarily Pakistanis and Indian population, we have seen there a lot of Indian shops and restaurants, and on our way we saw a Sikh temple which is considered the largest one all over Europe, and after that we have seen a Methodist church and a minutes after we found cemeteries then we saw a mosque, actually it is wonderful to find different places of worships for different religions and beliefs engaged at the same district close to each other.

Indian clothing shop

Indian clothing shop

Sikh Temple

Sikh Temple





Later began the most wonderful part in the day as we met Adam and took the train to have a dinner at his house in Canley with his respectable and kind parents whom welcomed us and treated us like if we are their daughters with a lot of care and kindness, we got into the nice garden and met their nice cat! And had a wonderful dinner with various and delicious dishes, and the most wonderful for me this warm feelings I felt in this house with this pure family, really I cannot express the extent of my gratitude and appreciation for them.

Nice Pose for the cat!

Nice Pose for the cat!

picture 10

Adam’s Parents with our group

At the end we said bye-bye to them, this moment which reminded me that we are about to say bye-bye UK bye-bye ITP, I still cannot realize or imagine that. Hope to spend more time in this wonderful program with those wonderful people whom will remain in my memory for my whole life…

Alaa Bakeer, Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo.

Posted by: BM ITP | September 11, 2014

ITP Diary 7th September 2014: Balsam Shakal

  In my dreams I have a plan

making world’s scan

 travel, travel, travel

Must be funny

In the other new world

travel, travel, travel

Always sunny

In the other new world

All of  the things I could do

If I find  real  friends

must be happy

and that’s could  happen indeed

If I have a good real  friend

Weekend memory, again it is Sunday; Ordinary activities at the end of the week; lots of rest, shopping and investigating surrounding neighbourhood for sure. This is our 5th day in the Collection  Museum in Lincoln,  three hours travelling by train towards north of London  in Lincolnshire. I must declare that although we did spent great lovely time in the last 4 weeks in London, I am still enjoying, and expecting more fun, knowledgeable, significant and valuable days in here. It should be like that because of the company of Mustafa, Jana and Waad, but we really miss our friends from the ITP  and other team members who are accompanying us in our memories . In this Sunday 07/09/2014, in Newcastle city the Great North Run which is the world’s most popular half marathon will be held in there, as we had been told by our friend Constantino from Greece – I hope they enjoyed that. But we had also right here in Lincoln an original one that is already been held yesterday; Saturday 6th of September, it is the marathon of beauty. Yes, the city is dressed full of amazing and beautiful cloth. Lincoln is famous for its amazing Cathedral, series of some historic buildings in the center, the river canal  crossing by bridges which are decorated by colorful flowers , small handcraft shops ,different restaurants, swans dancing  in the water passing from east to the west, people telling stories of love,  kind people, and  many many happy  smiles. Happiness  it is exactly what I felt when I went out with my group at Lincoln. Finding  real friends was a dream of my life —————- keeping real friends now is a role of my life

. lincoln-cathedral00صورة٠٠٨٤

SAM_2162 SAM_2586

ITP 2014 you are all mine with love Balsam Shakal / Sudan

Posted by: BM ITP | September 11, 2014

ITP Diary 30th August 2014: Yu Miao

This Saturday we visit the Ken-wood House the former house of Dido Belle Ken-wood with the participants and the ITP team. There is a lot of Stunning art collection inside the house and we spend nearly 2 hours enjoying and discovering the great work of art in the house.


Then we walked for half an hour in the park, and we were very excited to the next program – traditional British afternoon tea. In the past it was a tradition. It became popular about one hundred and fifty years ago, when rich ladies invited their friends to their houses for an afternoon cup of tea. They started offering their visitors sandwiches and cakes too. This is a story about the origins of afternoon tea which I only read in books before and today we have the opportunity to experience this British tradition.

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Everyone was enjoying the afternoon tea and homemade cakes at the home of Frances Carey. It was a beautiful day

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Yu Miao / China

Posted by: BM ITP | September 10, 2014

ITP Diary 31st August 2014: Şeyda Çetin

On our last Sunday in London, I wanted to allocate all my time to the museums and the exhibitions that I haven’t been.

I started with the National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery, founded in 1856, holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the World.

I first visited the BP Portrait Award 2014 exhibition. Fifty-five of the most outstanding and innovative new portraits from around the World were on display in the exhibition. It features a variety of styles and approaches to the contemporary painted portrait. I was particularly fascinated by the Brooklyn based artist David John Kassan’s work “Letter to my Mom”(Image 1).  Kassan won the Third prize with this portrait and I was heartened by the serenity in the pose of Kassan’s mother, who was modelling for him for this work. The Hebrew text painted onto the portrait above the sitter reads: ‘Dear Mom,/ This painting is my way to spend more time with you./ My way to meditate on our life together./ And all of the earliest memories I have / All of my earliest memories from you.’

Image 1 A-Letter-to-My-Mom

Image 1 – A-Letter-to-My-Mom

I continued with the Virgina Woolf exhibition celebrating her life and achievements through portraits. (Image 2) The Show includes more than 140 objects. As well as paintings of Woolf and her crowded circle of family and friends, there is rare archival material including two suicide letters and the walking stick found on a riverbank by her husband Leonard on the day she went missing in 1941. The design of the exhibition was delicate that caught my attention. It enables the visitors to understand the narrative of the exhibition and the elaborate style gives the chance to know how remarkable writer Woolf was.

Image 2 - VWoolf

Image 2 – VWoolf

After seeing the impressive permanent display in the National Portrait Gallery, I made my way to the National Gallery. It was my first time in the Gallery and I was very excited to see world’s greatest collections of Western European paintings, which is about 2,300 works by roughly 750 artists dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. When I entered the gallery, where the masterpiece The Arnolfini portrait by Jan van Eyck is on display (Image 3), I had a magical moment to have a closer look to the painting. I gave myself a good amount of time to celebrate this stunning work, tried to discover every detail of it. As the Gallery just recently lifted the ban for taking photographs on personal cameras and mobile phones (see the link), I was able to have some snapshot. Taking photos is a long discussion among museum professionals but fighting against mobile phones gives the gallery staff hard times.

Image 3  - Arnolfini

Image 3 – Arnolfini

Although I very much would like to spend hours and days in The National Gallery, it is impossible to see all the galleries in one day. Without seeing many paintings of the most renowned artists I headed to the stunning summer exhibition of the Gallery “Making Colour”. (Image 4) I am so glad that I was able to see this exhibition as it was a very good example in different aspects (exhibition design, curating, conceptualizing, interpretation, methods of displaying…). The show guides the audience through the spectrum of materials used throughout history to create artists’ pigment. Each room focuses on a specific colour and the multiple materials used to make it over time. Drawn from the National Gallery collection, the exhibition takes a view of National Gallery paintings alongside special loans and featuring research by Gallery experts. The function of the works on show seems to be to illustrate different pigments and demonstrate how various materials have faded with time and with exposure to light. The exhibition was truly an eye-opening one, a great opportunity for me to understand the quest of colour.



I left the brilliant exhibition and hit the road to see Phyllida Barlow’s massive work at Tate Britain.  I entered the museum from the Millbank entrance that opened almost a year ago. The £45 million transformation project was held by the architecture firm Caruso St John. I walked towards the new staircase that spirals down from the centre of the domed rotunda. (Image 5) A circular balcony around the rotunda had been closed since the 1920s. I found the new look of the entrance very impressive especially the different architectural elements that were employed for the dome and the balcony. (Image 6)

Image 5 - Tate Britain

Image 5 – Tate Britain

Image 6    -  Tate Dome

Image 6 – Tate Dome

I saw a part of Phyllida Barlow’s work “Dock”, and it pulled me straight into the huge gallery that it is installed. (Image 7) Commissioned by Tate Britain, Barrlow’s sculpture is her largest work on exhibit in London. It is made up of a series of works, using everyday materials such as cardboard, fabric, timber, polystyrene, plaster and cement, spreading throughout the Duveen Galleries. It reaches up to the roof, falls to the floor through its wooden structure. One might think that it is a mess from the first sight. It is an ambitious, immense work inspired by the view from Tate Britain’s Millbank entrance with an aspect the river Thames. (Image 8)

Image 7  -   Phyllida

Image 7 – Phyllida 

Image 8   - Phyllida 2

Image 8 – Phyllida 2

Before the museum closes I rushed into the galleries where the paintings of Turner are on display. I ended my visit in the gallery of Olafur Eliasson’s work “Turner Colour Experiments”. (Image 9) Eliasson has analysed seven paintings by Turner and created schematic arrays of colours on round canvases, which isolate and record Turner’s use of light and colour. The first effect is having shining CD’s mounted on the wall. But the Colour Wheel like canvases explore the importance of light and atmosphere for Turner, who was using innovative technique in his decade. It was surprising for me to see these paintings, since Eliasson is an artist who is best known for installations and projects.

Image 9   -  Olafur Eliasson

Image 9 – Olafur Eliasson

I had one of my busiest days during ITP, but delighted to spend my entire time in Museums by seeing outstanding artworks and getting new ideas on displaying and interpretation.

Şeyda Çetin, Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations / Turkey

The August Bank Holiday weekend proved to be quite busy for our ITP participants.

They were charged with a Project Weekend, which encouraged them to evaluate professionally a London-based museum. The aim of the project was to use their experience of the ITP and their heritage expertise to assess another site.

The work had already begun before the actual visit. The participants had been divided into six groups and they were to find the way to the museum using the information available to the general public. The ITP team were not allowed to give hints or help in any other way. This one time we could simply say with a smile ‘ I don’t know’ and leave it there :).

 Asmaa, Ameena and Amani went to see Sir John Soane’s Museum. On Friday afternoon Asmaa gave a passionate account about their visit to a place that felt more like somebody’s home rather than a museum.  They seemed to love the warm, welcoming atmosphere and the friendly staff. They noticed that unlike in other museums the information about the object was not displayed on panels but they could ask a helpful visitor assistants who willingly engaged in the conversation. They recommended a visit to Sir Joan Soane’s Museum as a must see and a unique experience. Indeed, I need to pay a visit one evening when the candles on, sounds charming!

 Alaa, O’bour, Seyda and Rhea had a challenging task to fulfill, they were to remain  professionals and at the same time return to their childhood memories while visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood. The collection they saw dates back to the 16th century and they liked the fact that the object were well sectioned and described. As the museum is mostly visited by children, pupils and families the displays are suited to the audience. There is a varied programme of activities going on and a choice of five temporary exhibitions on top of the permanent collection. Our experts allowed themselves to get in touch with an inner child inside them but also remained focused on the task. They made some valuable observations and offered hints to make the visit to the V&A Museum of Childhood even more appealing to the wider audiences. They sounded convincing to me!


Mostafa, Waad and Balsam seemed to be truly happy with the choice of their museum. William Morris Gallery was a place they visited on a sunny Saturday morning. They decided to start the visit in the tea room and although we didn’t get an account on the cakes and teas, they must have set them in a preety good mood as all comments that followed later were quite enthusiastic. Our team of experts were impressed by the design of the website (would you not expect it from a  place devoted to a designer and craftsman?), the warm atmosphere of the house, the colours, the name of the rooms beautifully painted above the doors, a helpful staff and interesting ways of displaying objects. Electronic labelling didn’t go unnoticed, neither did the talking books and welcoming rooms for kids. The way they described  the William Morris Gallery made me want to go and visit it.


Mostafa, Waad (me), Balasm

Mostafa, Waad, Balasm

Hayk, Berkay and Shimray went to visit  the Leighton House Museum on Saturday and their account started with the facts rather than impressions. So we learnt that no photography was allowed inside, there was ‘yes’ for environment control  and ‘yes’ for fire and burglar alarms. Safety first when you manage a museum! And the collection of course. Thus we learnt that the paintings and objects had been the personal belongings of Sir Leighton. Due to (probably) the private character of the museum there were no labels as such but there were booklets and guides available. The interior of the house was in an ecclectic oriental style, typical to the time and reflecting the

 passion of Sir Leighton. The small museum does not have its own website but the information is well managed by the borough website and it seems sufficient. The permanent collection will be enhanced by a temporary exhibition  which is to start in October. Unlike many free sites in London this is a ticketed museum but all three participants agreed that it was worth spending the time and money to visit it.


 Miao, Marwa, Fatih and Costas were given an opportunity to make a trip to one of the most charming sites outsite of London, once a favourite place of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I – The Royal Greenwich and its National Maritime Museum.

Fatih commented on a well designed and comprehensive website providing the information about four local sites: Cutty Sark, The Queens House, Royal Observatory Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum itself. The website has been translated into nine different languages and half of the team could have read it in their own native tonque shall they had chosen to do so. During the Friday presentation  our participants discussed various aspects of the visit in most detail, from the choice of  the collection maritime objects, through the selection of panels, colours, the layout of  the exhibitions and the souvenir shop. After four intensive weeks of lectures and workshops it seemed like nothing had escaped their attention. You could tell it was not a leisure visit, it was a  serious Project Weekend they were on! Well done for a detailed analysis guys!


Marine, Yue, Hajra and Shubha were given a task of visiting the Museum of London. And they said that getting the London Museum experience, observing and learning was like winning a lottery ticket! Shubha could not have been more enthusiastic when telling us about it all. Their experience began with checking the website and discovering that event the floor plans were provided in many different languages. On arrival to the building they were welcome by the words in their own language displayed on a panel. It made them feel truly welcome. The collection itself is impressive and the museum targets various audiences, different age groups, the UK and international visitors and caters for the visitors with the special needs. What impressed our group was the way the museum uses the original objects, the modern technology, multimedia, the innovative labelling and also appeals to the senses to create a thorough  experience.   But event though the museum seemed to be ‘perfect’ our team made some suggestions for the furher improvement. That’s the spirit, never rest on the laurels!


Well, after listening to the critical analysis, comments and recommendations the whole ITP team have no excuses now but to see every single museum visited by our participant during the Project Weekend.  As for me, I have already started fulfilling my mission!

 Sylwia Janik- ITP team



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