Posted by: BM ITP | May 6, 2015

ITP UK Partner Meeting 2015 – Birmingham

Last week on a sunny (but windy) day in Birmingham, members of the ITP team, BM reps, and UK Partner representatives met in preparation for the 2015 ITP summer programme.

The meeting was kindly hosted by our UK partner representative Adam Jaffer at the beautiful and historic Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG).

The purpose of these meetings, which currently take place once a year, is to catch up with UK partner colleagues, announce candidates and countries for the 2015 ITP, discuss our legacy projects and to plan BM and partner programmes.

We were also able to visit the newly opened and impressive Staffordshire Hoard Galleries and BMAG’s current exhibition “Love is Enough: William Morris and Andy Warhol”.

At the end of the meeting, attendees were asked to work together in groups to discuss the aims and objectives of the ITP. A valuable opportunity to share our own diverse motivations for taking part in the programme, we closely considered how the ITP might adapt for future years to further benefit all involved: participants, partners and the BM alike. By revisiting our founding aims and objectives, we were able to think about how these might change to keep the ITP relevant for the future.

Just a few of the significant issues included:

  • The importance of cultural as well as intellectual exchange, and how we might seek a balance between global understanding, sharing knowledge and social change.
  • How UK partners could develop their programmes and maintain flexibility to meet the expectations of a changing participant base.
  • Further recognising and utilising institutional strengths.
  • Justifying partner involvement in programmes such as the ITP to other institutions, trustees and funding bodies.
  • How to promote collaborations, projects and dialogue between UK partners, participants and the BM after the programme.
  • Plans for nurturing and sustaining our dynamic network.

Looking at the original aims and objectives of the ITP, our groups were given 15 minutes to come up with changes and additions of around 5 of their own.

Catching up before the meeting

Catching up before the meeting

Our Founding Aims and Objectives

To share skills, knowledge and experience across the international museum and heritage sectors

To develop a platform for cross-cultural dialogue and collaboration.

To have a positive impact on international museum development.

To provide opportunities for personal and professional career development.

To work in collaboration with British Museum strategy

To create, develop and strengthen the British Museum’s partnerships within UK and abroad

To enhance the profile of the British Museum both nationally and internationally

To create an environment in which our UK partners can develop their international strategies.

To enable UK museums’ staff and collections to benefit from the participants’ knowledge and experience.

To promote a sustainable, dynamic network of international museum professionals.

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Our brainstorming session!

Aims and Objectives: Our workshop results

To develop dynamic network of museum professionals in intellectual and cultural exchange

To support regional museums in maintaining links with past participants

To provide a range of museum experiences (national, BM, university, local government) to participants

To embed the ITP into wider institutions/partners with all museums within a group/area involved (e.g all in Oxford museums involved, visiting more museums in Bristol)

To provide diverse experiences in cultural exchange with ITP participants and local communities, encouraging local community visitors and showing diversity in the UK.

To demonstrate the value of the ITP in the development UK partners’ international strategies.

To promote dialogue between ITP participants to encourage tolerance and understanding across cultures

The opportunity to get international expertise/perspective on collections

To strengthen relationships with the BM

Genuine knowledge exchange between institutions

Promote the profile of partner institutions and further international ambitions

To get an understanding of international markets and establishing links with future leaders in the museum sector

Contributing to international museum professionalism

To capture anecdotal evidence of positive changes in participating institutions

Participant networks

Promotion of internal, regional and national collaboration (as well as BM)

To benefit internally and externally, across partners and within institutions.

Contacts – future projects with BM and other partners, participants.

Advocacy

To nurture our existing, dynamic network of international museum professionals.

If you have any comments or questions for the ITP team or our UK partners, please post in the comments section below!

Joyee Roy

Curatorial Official

Victoria Memorial Hall

The exhibition on Krishna – Iconographic Representations is one of the more unusual exhibitions to be organized from the collection of the Victoria Memorial Hall, which is traditionally known as a treasure trove of European art, showcasing the works of masters such as Thomas and William Daniell, Johann Zoffany, Charles D’Oyly, Samuel Davis, Emily Eden and many others. Neither the more educated and knowledgeable visitors, nor the more general ones, give the VMH much credit for its holdings of Indian art. As a result, while seeking to collect some visitor feedback on the possibility of such an exhibition, I came across several responses that combined both curiosity and surprise. ‘Harinaam Sankirtan in the Victoria Memorial?’ ‘Do you have at least 10 objects on Krishna to exhibit?’ ‘Are you a Krishna devotee?’ This experience made me determined to select this theme for my exhibition, ‘Krishna – Iconographic Representations.’

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However, this is not the only reason. Other strong ones played a role, too. I believe that my responsibility as a curatorial official is to help publicize the fact that the VMH collection is not only about European art, but that it has an equally rich collection of Indian art ranging across illustrated manuscripts in languages like Sanskrit, Oriya, Hindi, Punjabi,  Arabic, Urdu, Persian and Tibetan, Indian miniatures, folk and Kalighat patas, early Bengal oil paintings, oleographs, lithographs and a large number of incomparable masterpieces of the Bengal school of Art, including the works of Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Sunayani Devi, Sucharu Devi, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, and Chintamani Kar, to name only a few. And yet, in comparison to the several exhibitions displayed in the VMH on Western European paintings – for instance ‘The Magnificent Heritage of India as seen by the Daniells’, ‘Indian Land & Landscape by Western European artists’, and major exhibitions on the works of Samuel Davis, Charles D’Oyly, Emily Eden, and William Cornwallis Harris – relatively few exhibitions have featured Indian art, for instance ‘Kalighat Paintings’ in collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the recent exhibitions on Gaganendranath Tagore and Abanindranath Tagore, featuring the landmark collaboration between the VMH and Rabindra Bharati Society.

Whether focusing on European or Indian art, most of the exhibitions displayed at the VMH in last decade or so have not been theme-based but have sought to showcase the works of different individual artists. By contrast, the current theme-based exhibition undertakes a comparative illustration of visuals through art works in different media and genres, created by different artists in different periods. In short, the evolution of Indian art through the theme of Krishna may be seen in this exhibition, which showcases a selection from the VMH collection of around fifty five artefacts on Krishna in different media. The selection includes an illustrated manuscript of the Vaishnava text Geeta Govinda, two illustrated Oriya manuscripts, miniature paintings of the late medieval period, patachitras, early Bengal oil paintings, oleographs, lithographs, prints, coins, metal sculptures, paintings from the Bengal school of art and modern paintings of the first half of the twentieth century.

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After inauguration of the exhibition on 23rd April, 2015, I received huge positive feedback from visitors of all kind. The exhibition is a huge success as visitors are able to see first time a very good collection of Victoria Memorial on Krishna through Indian Art. The exhibition is open for visitors till 24th May, 2015.

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Lastly, it should be mentioned that the concept of this unusual exhibition was conceived by me as a Vivekananda Memorial Fellow in Museum Excellence, 2014-15, conducted by the Art Institute of Chicago in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

At last week’s Curator of The Future Conference held over one day at the BM, cultural heritage professionals from across Europe and the UK came together to exchange ideas, create networks and find solutions to some important cultural issues. In a series of sessions under the theme of the “Future Curator”, delegates examined such questions as ‘what will the curator of the future look like and where will they come from?’ ‘how can we future proof our museums through our curatorial work?” And ‘how do we nurture and strengthen future generations of cultural heritage professionals?’

Claire and I were lucky enough to be joined by Tim Corum, Director of Curatorial and Public Engagement at the Horniman Museum and former Bristol ITP Partner, and Nelson Abiti (Uganda National Museum, University of East Anglia, ITP 2013) in facilitating a workshop on “National Partnerships for a Global Future”.

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© Benedict Johnson, courtesy of the British Museum

Using our ITP partnerships as a case study, workshop participants were asked to consider their own projects for skills sharing and knowledge exchange using partnerships across the sector, for the future of curators around the globe.

Among the questions considered were:

•How do partnerships help develop the curators of the future?

•What benefits do national collaborations bring for UK museums and their audiences globally?

•What are the difficulties and challenges?

•How can we make ‘skills-sharing’ a truly shared experience, nationally and internationally?

•Motivations:

Why should we want to work with other institutions?
What are the benefits to staff?
What are the benefits for the institutions?

•What are the barriers to cross-institutional work that we need to overcome?

In a short space of time, our participants were able to work together and come up with some wonderful ideas and tackle some of the challenges of partnership projects, summarising them in a three minute “elevator pitch”.

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© Benedict Johnson, courtesy of the British Museum

Among the main points discussed by our groups were:

Community engagement – how collaborative work can benefit local communities and how to get them involved in these kinds of processes and projects.

Sustainability – how to keep partners talking and working together after the end of a project, and how to create a legacy.

Support – a major challenge for any collaborative project! Gaining involved, enthusiastic support on all levels (including from sponsors, partners and staff) and creating important contacts.

Understanding – Overcoming cultural differences and diverse approaches to cultural heritage.

And of course, funding!What was particularly interesting is how our groups turned some of these obstacles and issues into partnership ideas in themselves – turning a lack of funds, for example, into a knowledge exchange project on marketing and fundraising.

Below are ideas and discussion points raised by our groups (transcripts to follow!):

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We would like to extend our thanks once more to Tim and Nelson for their help and to all our delegates for joining us in a short but fruitful exercise. We hope to have shown that with a clearer understanding of the challenges and benefits, partnerships are a wonderful way to support and develop the curators of the future.

Posted by: BM ITP | April 14, 2015

The SKD – A visit to our 2014 Dresden fellows

Building on the successes of the International Training Programme, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) – one of our Programme sponsors – kindly offered two fully funded fellowships in 2014 at two of their 14 museums in Dresden and Leipzig. The fellowships lasted between six weeks and three months and the fellows had the chance to become part of the team of one of SKD’s international research projects.

Sun Yue, Museum Fellow and Curator at the Palace Museum Beijing (China, ITP 2010) and Antonio Luis Ntimbanga, Head of the Exhibition and Education Department, Ethnology National Museum, Nampula (Mozambique, ITP 2009) were chosen for the first of a total of 6 fellowships that will take place over 3 years.

Yue and Antonio were both in Germany in early December 2014 which gave me a wonderful opportunity to travel to Leipzig and Dresden to re-connect with them and to catch-up with colleagues at the SKD.   It was an absolute pleasure to see them both again for the first time since we’d been together in London.  Both were working hard on their research projects and relishing the chance to work with the SKD’s staff and collections.  As well as having the opportunity to collaborate with academic colleagues and exchange ideas, they were able to bring a new perspective and insight into collections from their home countries.

But I have to confess, as well as enjoying the opportunity to look at the SKD’s collections with Antonio and Yue, we also made time for lunch in Leipzig and a trip to one of Dresden’s wonderful Christmas Markets where we were able to reminisce over the 2009 and 2010 Programmes and catch-up on our news.

The reports produced by Yue and Antonio at the end of their Fellowships are attached and I hope you will read and enjoy them.

And I just want to send my thanks to Antonio and Yue for all their hard work and the energy and enthusiasm they brought to their placements in Germany. As two of the first past-participants to take up the fellowships at the SKD they have been a credit to the ITP alumni.

Claire Messenger, Manager, International Training Programme

Report by Antonia Ntimbanga

Report by Sun Yue

‘Exhibition Planning & Management in Museums’ is apparently a very simple subject but museum professionals may agree that it has diverse dimensions. It may be based on a permanent collection or on loaned objects, it could be theme based or artist based, with a combination of different medium objects or with objects in similar categories. But most important when organizing an exhibition is for visitors and communities to connect with it. Proper marketing is one of the most essential parts and it can do wonders for putting together a successful exhibition. Further, another dimension of a successful exhibition is vibrant educational activities related with it.

Essential steps of exhibition planning and management are:-

º Theme progression
º Concept behind the theme chosen
º Checklist creation  DSC08974 - Copy
º Approval by the Director
º Timeline creation
º Conservation
º Digitization
º Design & Construction
º Installation
º Graphics
º PR/ Marketing
º Education & Publication
º Security
º Inauguration

In Indian museums it is a regular activity to organize temporary exhibitions one after another. But we are doing it in hurry without following proper planning. Therefore, after acquiring and experiencing knowledge on ‘Collection Management’ and ‘Exhibition Planning & Management’ at British Museum during ITP 2011 and at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014 as a Vivekananda Memorial Museum Excellence fellow, I requested Directors of different museums of India to allow me to share my knowledge. As a result, I delivered lectures on  ‘Exhibition Planning & Management’ in Museums’ during 2013 to till date at :-

Patna Museum, Bihar, India;7

Gurusaday Museum, Kolkata, India;

Indian Museum, Kolkata, India;

Rabindra Bharati University Museum, Kolkata, India;

Jiagunj Archaeology Museum, Murshidabad, West Bengal, India;

State Archaeological Museum, Kolkata, India;

Ashutosh Museum under Calcutta University, Kolkata, India;

Tamluk Archaeological Museum, West Bengal, India;

Allahabad Museum, Allahabad, India and

Of course, I spoke 2 times in Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, India (my mother institution).

I received immense appreciation and it is my great pleasure that nowadays all the above museums of India are thinking of new ways to properly plan and organize meaningful and successful exhibitions.

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Hello Everyone!

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Shambo Ghosh

I am Shambwaditya Ghosh from New Delhi, India, and I was an ITP participant in the summer of 2012. This year I have been selected for the Past Participant Facilitator Role, which first started in 2013, with Eileen Musundi of Kenya (ITP 2008) and Jana Alaraj of Palestine (ITP 2011) taking on the role in 2013 and 2014. I am working as a project coordinator for a multi volume documentation project of Rashtrapati Bhavan, residence of the Indian President and Secretariat. It is a national project involving eminent historians, art historians, architects, cultural anthropologists, and conservation specialists to bring out several books on this premier building of India, unfolding the history and cultural milieu of modern India.

Apart from this regular appointment I also work as an independent researcher. My area of research is ancient Indian history, culture and archaeology. Over the last two years, after attending the ITP in 2012, I have undertaken a few research and curatorial projects on different subjects like cartography, Silk Route cultural exchange, ancient Indian medicinal practice and so on. Recently I have developed an interest in collecting oral histories. I have interviewed, formally and informally, various people coming from different professions and areas of expertise.  It is quite exciting to know their personal experiences along with their professional achievements. We could try this during the summer as it is the 10th year of the ITP after the first programme in 2006. Along with our reports and photographs this would be a collective memory for all of us attending ITP this year. I am eagerly waiting to meet all of you!!

Regards

Shambo

Dear ITPers,

We are excited to announce that applications for the 2015 Dresden Fellowship, at Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD), are now open!

Sharing the aims and goals of the British Museum and the ITP, the SKD hopes to bring together scholars and museum professionals from around the world to collaborate on projects, experience new cultures and share knowledge.

One of the oldest and largest museum organizations in Germany, the SKD oversees fourteen well-established and renowned museums. Their diverse collections are divided between art and ethnography, with a great deal of research possibilities for the right candidate.

SKD

One space is available to former ITP participants to spend between six weeks and three months in Dresden in 2015, undertaking research on specific projects taking place in Dresden together with colleagues from the SKD. Applicants will have the chance to cooperate with specialists in the same field who are working on subject matters relevant to their personal interests.

One fellowship for 2015 has now been awarded to Constantinos Vasiliadis, Senior Conservator and Coordinator of the Sculptures Conservation Laboratory at the Acropolis Museum in Athens (ITP 2014). We wish Costas the best of luck for his time in Dresden.

The titles for the research projects available in 2015 are as follows:

ARTFUL AMBASSADORS – Exhibition Project: Organizational Assistance

ARTFUL AMBASSADORS – Exhibition Project: Latin American Art and Culture

ARTFUL AMBASSADORS – Exhibition Project: Indian Art and Culture

DAMASCUS ROOM – Daily life in 19th century Syria and Palestine

BENIN/NIGERIA – Kingdom of Benin

DAHOMÉ/TOGO – Ritual objects of Vodún

PHILIPPINES – Traces of ethnic living in late 19th century

INDONESIA – Javanese culture

PACIFIC – Colonial Photography

Details of each project can be found in the “List of Fellowship Projects 2015” document included.

We really encourage you to apply for this wonderful opportunity. To do so, please send the following to Claire or Emma at itp@britishmuseum.org by 10 April 2015:

Your CV

A completed application form

A completed questionnaire on the project and your professional and personal interests

Permission of your institution to travel to Dresden for the scholarship for a period between six weeks and up to three months

A scan of the personal details page of your passport

For further details on the SKD and the fellowship, please refer to the documents included here. Feel free to email us at itp@britishmuseum.org with any questions, and Good Luck!

Application Documents:

Call for Application for the Fellowship Programme

Application Form_Research Fellowship

List of Fellowship Projects 2015

Questionnaire on project, professional and personal interests

Posted by: BM ITP | March 18, 2015

ICOM’s Working Internationally Conference 2015

An early train and hot coffee began an insightful and enjoyable day at the International Council of Museums (ICOM) ‘Working Internationally’ Conference 2015 last week.

ICOM is a global network of committees representing over 20,000 museums in 117 countries around the world. It aims to promote information sharing, dialogue and the conservation of world heritage through partnerships.

For more information about you can visit their main site here: http://icom.museum

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The conference saw professionals from across the sector discuss the benefits and challenges of international projects – from attracting visitors to managing risk and developing new connections.

This year is the first time the conference has been held outside of London – with the beautiful and culturally rich city of York, and the York Museums Trust, as host.

York is a city whose history spans over a thousand years, from the Romans to the Vikings, from the Normans to King Henry VII. As Kersten England, Chief Executive of York City Council, attested, the history of York is the history of the world.

York has a total of seven million visitors per year, with a large number of those going to the many museums and galleries on offer.

The morning had Kersten and representatives from Manchester Museum and People’s History Museum discuss the challenges and rewards of attracting more international visitors.

Key areas of advice included: the importance of market research, learning your audience, connecting your local story to global narratives, focusing on shared interests and offering a mixture of comfort and difference.

Manchester Museum focused on attracting foreign, especially Russian audiences, through pre-established, international partnerships and their Siberia exhibition At The Edge Of The World, which offered a diversity of material and links to home in a new context.

Tips for creating successful partnerships were given from speakers throughout the day, with the British Council India, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the V&A all highlighting the dangers of making assumptions, and presuming things will be done “your way”. This was particularly important when it came to risk: to objects, people and reputations.

Key to this invaluable advice was a central theme of respect, generosity and intercultural understanding.

If any of you are thinking of doing an international partnership remember – they are not just for big institutions! Bolton Library and Museum Service, a local council museum, showed that collaborating globally is within reach for even the smallest museums, or those with limited funds – as long as you play to your strengths, and have a clear vision.

Tobias Lumb at ICOM "Working Internationally"

Tobias Lumb at ICOM “Working Internationally”

A talk by Tobias Lumb, head of Public Programmes at York Railway Museum, gave an excellent breakdown of managing resources, and the financial costs and potential rewards of putting on a major event – in this case, the 75th anniversary of the locomotive “Mallard”.

All in all the day’s conference was a positive exchange of ideas and best practice, nurturing an atmosphere of international cooperation and goodwill.

As a wonderful example of ICOM’s dedication to informating sharing, all the papers delivered at the conference are available online!! Visit http://uk.icom.museum/working-internationally/annual-conferences/annual-conference-2015/ to see and download the papers and agenda of this year’s conference.

If you would like to know anything more, or have any questions for us or the speakers, please leave a comment below or send us an email at itp@britishmuseum.org

Most of you know and have experience of the ITP’s Room 3 Exhibition Proposal Project. An exciting climax to the annual programme, participants are asked to come up with an exhibition idea for the British Museum’s Room 3, using an object from our collections.

In the 2011 ITP we hosted Manisha Nene, Assistant. Director (Gallery) at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai. Her exhibition proposal, “Visions of Ganesha” primarily focused on the story of Ganesha and popular legends associated with the god, depicitions of Ganesha in different art forms, Ganesha’s influence in Hindu religion and how he is celebrated in the public and the domestic space.

Statue of Ganesha. Photo credit The British Museum.

Statue of Ganesha. Photo credit The British Museum.

Neil MacGregor and the BM were so impressed by the proposal, that it eventually became an actual Room 3 Exhibition – “From Temple to Home: Celebrating Ganesha”, and had over 62,000 visitors from February to May 2014.

Now we have even better news – “From Temple to Home” is going on tour! As part of the Museum in Britain programme, the BM’s and Manisha’s Room 3 exhibition will be touring seven venues across the UK – including:

Russell Cotes Museum, Bournemouth

Oxford Museum

Cartwright Hall, Bradford

The Bowes Museum, Durham

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (one of our ITP UK Partner Museums)

The Horniman Museum, London (an ITP programme partner)

and Brent Museum, London.

This is a great opportunity for the Museum and for Manisha – and we hope that this tour will help us create new connections and new possibilities for our ITP participants and their projects.

Hello everyone! After a long holiday break, the ITP blog is back in business with a report on last week’s staff breakfast!

British Museum staff were given a presentation last week on the “Portable Antiquities Scheme”. To give you a little bit of information about this scheme, it is a national programme supported by government, designed “to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales.”

In the UK there is a strong tradition of metal detecting and mud-larking (where people walk along the banks of rivers looking for archaeological fragments in the mud) – this leads to the discovery of thousands of objects each year. People also, of course, find some fascinating items completely by accident. The Portable Antiquities Scheme helps UK citizens to learn more about these objects, and if they want to, donate them to a local museum!

"The millionth find" from the Portable Antiquities Scheme Photo credit: D Hubbard, British Museum. Do not use without permissions.

“The millionth find” from the Portable Antiquities Scheme Photo credit: D Hubbard, British Museum. Do not use without permissions.

The scheme is voluntary, however if a UK citizen finds something considered “treasure” (for example made of gold or valuable metal, or a large amount of coins), by law they must let their local representative know under the Treasure Act.

At the staff breakfast, we were allowed to see the latest in this year’s treasure finds, including two beautiful Roman gold rings. They were wonderful objects, and show how important amateur archaeology is to the UK.

Our presenter also discussed how much easier it is now to report finds, with local expert representatives available throughout the country to help people report, learn about and excavate potential sites.

For more information on the scheme, visit https://finds.org.uk/

What do you think about the scheme? Do you have something similar in your country? Or is amateur digging and archaeology a difficult issue for your government and museums?

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