Written by Claire Messenger, Manager, International Training Programme.

In June and July 2012, the British Museum and its partners invited 26 heritage professionals from 14 countries to the UK for six weeks.  The group of 26 was the largest we have had, before or since, on the programme and while this presented its own challenges around logistics, the size and diversity of the fellows proved to be both fun and enlightening.

While following a tried and tested structure, 2012 saw many changes to the programme.  We were delighted to work with our wonderful teams in Marketing and Photography & Imaging to create a programme report which was beautifully illustrated and designed and allowed us to look back at the year as a whole rather than simply focus on the summer programme.  This not only gave the International Training Programme (ITP) a ‘brand image’ but also demonstrated how the programme had become a year-round event.

We also introduced a Coursebook which enabled us to put all the information the fellows would need into one place.  It included a brief history of the Museum, details of the Museum’s current structure, a copy of their programme, information sheets for day trips and job descriptions, biographies and contact details for session facilitators.  Perhaps most notable was that Coursebook included aims and objectives for each day of the programme.  This allowed us to explain to fellow why we were delivering sessions, trips and projects – how the programme had been created and why content was included.

2012 also saw the introduction of the Museum Project Day.  Fellows travelled to one of a number of selected London museums.  The visits were entirely self-guided and fellows were encouraged to think about all aspects of the visitor experience, choices of displays and to suggest any changes they would make – both ‘quick-wins’ and those with a longer timeline and a larger budget.  The fellows then reported back to the whole group on their experiences – and often what they had purchased from the museum’s shops!!

These new introductions were so successful that they are still in place today although, like much of the programme, they change and develop to reflect current changes and challenges in the sector.

And from our usual feedback sessions, this was the year we decided to start an International Training Programme Newsletter.  This annual publication – issues of which can all be found on our ITP blog site – is inspired and written by our ITP network of fellows and partners.

But perhaps the most significant change in 2012 – for me!!!! – was that I took over the management of the ITP.  This was a wonderful opportunity and one that today, eight years later, I am still incredibly grateful for.