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.
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