Becca Horton, ITP Assistant
A key component of the International Training Programme is the visit to a British Museum partner museum. Ikhlass, Shreen, Vaidehi, and I have been based in Newcastle for the last 10 days, spending time at the Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM). Upon arrival in Newcastle we were greeted and given a tour by Jackie Bland, Training Services Officer, and on our first working day Bill Griffiths, Head of Programmes, spoke to the group about exactly what TWAM is…
TWAM encompasses Roman Forts, Museums, Art Galleries, archives and a working steam railway; it is a complex network, running under four different local authorities and a university. As we were taken to numerous sites the massive undertaking that running these incredibly varied institutions sunk in. The combination of staff who work at one site and staff who work across multiple sites realises Bill Griffiths’ ethos of different voices of the sector speaking together. Despite severe funding cuts over the years, the passion and determination of the TWAM team is what stands out and this is rewarded by busy gallery spaces and stories of what the variety of museum programmes mean to community members.
Core gallery spaces are cleverly designed so that the eye is forced to wonder up, down and all around. The sharing of experimental ideas is encouraged and putting these ideas into practice is a reality: the Hidden Newcastle app (http://www.hiddennewcastle.org/) reveals a history of Newcastle as users walk through the city, ‘Boxes of Delight’ are delivered to schools across the region (https://twamschools.org.uk/boxes-of-delight) and donors to the Great North Museum are added to the beautiful Butterfly Wall display (http://www.shoptwmuseums.co.uk/butterfly-wall-1832-p.asp).
The challenges which TWAM staff face and work with each day are familiar to the ITP participants, ensuring every session was beneficial and sparked fresh ways of thinking. The fourth week of this full and thought provoking programme has rapidly come upon us, and a good hike in the fresh air of the sites of Hadrian’s Wall was the perfect way to spend our Sunday!