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”.


© 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?


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”.


© 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!):

image image image image

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.


Hello Everyone!


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!!



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.


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 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 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:


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 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

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

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?

Posted by: BM ITP | January 12, 2015

Your thoughts: Environmentally Friendly Museums

Following from last week’s blog about sustainability and the British Museum’s brand new beekeeping club, we would love to hear your case studies, ideas and opinions on museums and the environment.

The environmental impact of running institutions both big and small is an important issue which is becoming more and more relevant.

ITP UK Partner Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums have an environmental policy, as do many museums throughout the UK and internationally. The Horniman Museum and Gardens even has a centre dedicated to environmental understanding, with the environment included in its mission and design – the building constructed with sustainable materials

If you have any thoughts to share on how your home institutions and cultures consider the environment and nature, and how your museums reflect this, please let us know!

For more articles and information on environmentally friendly museums from the Museums Association, see the link below.

Before Christmas, the British Museum announced to staff what is surely one of the most exciting initiatives for the new year: a British Museum Bee Club!

In the summer of 2014, while participants were taking part in this year’s ITP, a colony of honey bees were welcomed on to the new “green roof” of the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre.

A green roof is a space on top of urban buildings which allows the growth of gardens, allotments and other green habitats within cities.

The green roof, with gardening space, solar panels, and beehives

The green roof, with gardening space, solar panels, and beehives. Photo credit: The British Museum

With the bee population in decline, there have been numerous efforts to “bring the bees back”, and these bees have been introduced as as part of the Inmidtown Urban Bee Project.

British Museum staff now have the opportunity to train as beekeepers with staff from the Urban Bee Project, and learn more about sustainability and the environmental impact of urban life.

It is also a great way to keep staff engaged with museum initiatives – more than just witnesses to organisational changes, we can be a vital part of these projects and contribute to their success.

Our museum bees

Our museum bees. Photo credit: The British Museum

Our bees live in an Inmidtown ‘Habi-Sabi’  hive produced by a company called 51% Studios, and are cared for by a team of beekeepers, Luke, Maddie, and Harry, who manage a number of hives in the local area as part of the Urban Bee Project, and across London including at the Natural History Museum.

Our beekeepers

Our beekeepers. Photo credit: The British Museum

I will keep you all updated as I undergo training to be a bona fide “museum beekeeper” – and perhaps I’ll be able to take home some honey!

Do you have a green roof, bee hives or anything similar in your institution, maybe a garden or any on-going environmental projects? Share your stories in the comments below!

With very special thanks to internal communications, human resources and the trainers at the British Museum for providing this information. Also thanks and credit to BM photographers for the images used in this post. Please do not re-use images without permission.

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