Written by Claire Messenger, International Training Programme Manager

We’re pleased to share with you the International Training Programme’s external evaluation for 2019 undertaken by Annabel Jackson of Annabel Jackson Associates Ltd.

Each year, both during and after the summer programme, Annabel carries out a series of in-person and online evaluations of the ITP.   Having received responses from all 23 of the ITP 2019 fellows, Annabel was able to look at every aspect of the summer programme from pre-course information, to accommodation and logistics, course content and the potential for further and continued dialogue.  Having an external evaluation for every year of the ITP also means that Annabel is able to compare and contrast results and look for common treads and trends across years.  Here are some of the highlights of the 2019 programme:-

As with previous years the relationships developed with participants, and their feeling that the British Museum and Partner Museums genuinely care about their wellbeing, are outstanding. The breadth and depth of learning opportunities is also exceptional, with some additional time this year to enable the ITP team to give slightly more choice to participants through the subject specialist sessions.

Jacob Nii Marley (Ghana) and Aprille Tijam (Philippines)

This year participants also had very positive views of the course book. All thought it was clear, well structured, useful, sufficiently detailed and sufficiently practical.

“The course book is like a treasure”,
Anonymous, ITP evaluation report 2019

Again, views of the accommodation were less positive than for the programme as a whole with one 2019 fellow commenting that the UK Partner accommodation “was 1000 times better than Schafer House.” However, as our alumni will confirm, Schafer House and the time our colleagues spend there holds a special place in their hearts with one 2019 fellow saying “Schafer House became my home, and I know that it will be heart-breaking to leave this place.”

In 2019 fellows particularly enjoyed the day and evening trips made during the programme describing them as inspiring, well-organised and useful. Fellows especially valued the group experience, new information and the chance to widen their network even further.

ITP day trip to Brighton

“I enjoyed the visits to other museums. It was an exposure and point of comparison (differences and similarities) of how the other museums present their exhibitions, education programs, management of collections and storage systems.  It gave me an opportunity to see what I can or cannot apply to my museum.”
Anonymous, ITP evaluation report 2019

This year’s fellows made particularly strong and lasting connections with their BM departments with the departmental programmes being described as inspiring, well-organised and relevant.  Fellows found spending time with curators and collections one of their highlights.

“The team of curators are just amazing! These people are highly professional in their sphere, very knowledgeable and passionate about what they do.” Anonymous, ITP evaluation report 2019

In 2019 all respondents said they were happy with the UK partner museum allocated to them, which is a positive given the challenges of matching fellows to partners though paperwork only. They also described the partner’s programmes as inspiring, clear, well-organised and useful, sufficiently detailed, sufficiently practical and relevant.  Particularly of note were sessions on community engagement, volunteer engagement and conservation, alongside sessions which were more ‘hands-on’ and practical and being able to discuss “big” museum contemporary issues.  Fellows also enjoyed meeting new colleagues and getting to know more about the UK.  I was particularly delighted to see that the only concern mentioned by some of the fellows this year was that ten days just wasn’t long enough!!

“It was really useful to be part of this placement. There is a variety of museums there that shows different ways of presenting themes and concepts. It was also useful to see the way the museums has exhibited some sensitive topics that are very important to be covered”
Anonymous, ITP evaluation report 2019

(from left to right) Ciprian Dobra (Romania), Nagwa Bakr (Egypt), Yasser Abdelrady (Egypt) and Ioan Oprea (Romania).

As last year, a particular highlight was the new – and improved according to the survey results – exhibition proposal project, Object in focus, which this year saw fellows working with an object from the Museum’s collection within the theme of ‘journeys’. Fellows were asked to work in partnership with a colleague from another country, and together to work with an object from outside of their areas of expertise.

The ITP fellows 2019 particularly valued the experience of working with an unfamiliar object, the challenge to their usual way of working, and the support of their mentors.

I particularly enjoyed reading the fellows Object in focus tips and hints for next year – their advice for the next summer programme cohort – which included:-

  • Get to know your object – do plenty of research.
  • Not worry about the project – do not stress!!
  • Invest in team work.
  • Ee creative and do not be afraid to explore new ideas.
  • Trust your previous knowledge.
  • Look for help when you need it.

Notable again in 2019 were the strong relationships made with and between fellows. The feeling of genuine caring is exceptionally strong in ITP and is an important element in ensuring participants become part of the BM family and maintain connections long into the future.  Given that the ITP aims to build a global network of museum and heritage professionals it was wonderful to see that:

Benedicta Gokah (Ghana) and Ioan Oprea (Romania) showing us their Object in Focus display

100% of our ITP 2019 fellows felt that the BM genuinely cared about them and their wellbeing. All participants said they felt they have a relationship with the BM. This view was expressed strongly.

100% of our ITP 2019 fellows believed it was useful for them to have colleagues from other countries on the BM ITP programme.

100% of our ITP 2019 fellows said that they plan to keep in touch with other participants after the programme and certainly, activity on the 2019 cohorts WhatsApp group, shows this is the case!!!

“I made many dear friends with the ITP participants, who are just amazing, open-minded and kind people. Also, it was very useful for us to talk casually about the work we do by sharing the knowledge, ideas and experience”. Anonymous, ITP evaluation report 2019

Annabel surveyed the Senior Fellow role through this year’s ITP fellows but also spoke to Mohamed Mokhtar (Egypt, ITP Fellow 2015 and Senior Fellow 2019) for his views on the programme.  From both perspectives there was some incredibly positive feedback.

“Coming for the second time gave you the ability to connect easily with the people and make the experience easier for them.”
Mohamed Mokhtar (Egypt, ITP Fellow 2015 and Senior Fellow 2019)

Mohamed Mokhtar (Egypt, ITP 2019 Senior Fellow)

100% of our ITP 2019 fellows said the Senior Fellow role was useful to them.

As well as surveying the fellows, we also ask our colleagues around the British Museum and our 9 UK partner museums for their thoughts each year.

In 2019 we had responses from 8 departmental mentors and were delighted to see that all said that they felt that being part of the International Training Programme was beneficial to their departments and 100% of the respondents said they were proud of the ITP.

“It helps us build relationships with institutions and to raise awareness regarding other ways of museum building”
Anonymous, ITP evaluation report 2019

“It’s a wonderful project and a great opportunity to meet colleagues from all over the world here in the BM” Anonymous, ITP evaluation report 2019

And 9 of our UK partners gave us feedback on the selection of ITP fellows for their institutions, levels of engagement, creating working relationships, how the programme met their expectations and the importance of being part of the programme.

“It’s a two-way partnership of sharing of skills and knowledge from the same basis of a cultural heritage organization. It opens up conversation and provides ideas for all as to how to promote, gives context to, access and conserve all our collections and give a wider international basis to this work.”
Anonymous, ITP evaluation report 2019

Sanjeewani Widyarathne (Sri Lanka) and Vishi Upadhyay (India)

Finally, the evaluation also gives an opportunity for speakers and facilitators to share their thoughts and this summer 20 replied to the survey looking at general organisation, levels of engagement and interaction and potential changes for the future.

“I really enjoy being part of the ITP program. I am passionate about training and outreach programmes regarding museums and collections care, so the ITP is a great opportunity. I have found it a really positive and interesting experience. I especially like having the opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world and be able to share knowledge and experiences. It has definitely helped me develop as a museum professional as it helps me have a better idea of collections care practice around the world.”

Anonymous, ITP evaluation report 2019

We are extremely grateful to Annabel for her continued and insightful analysis of the International Training Programme but I would also like to thank everyone who completed the survey.  Whether an ITP fellow, a UK partner, departmental mentor or a programme facilitator, your thoughts and comments are invaluable both for seeing what we are doing right but perhaps most importantly, what we need to change or think about for the future.  The ITP continues to thrive and develop thanks to the support, feedback and suggestions of colleagues at the British Museum, across the UK and around the world.

The ITP Evaluation Report 2019 can be found here.

Claire

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