Temporary exhibitions and permanent displays, written by Claire Messenger, Manager, International Training Programme.

This week we take another break from the summer programme to reflect on our first ITP+ course held in May 2017 which focussed on Temporary exhibitions and permanent displays.

ITP+ courses are five-day workshops on selected themes which focus on specific parts of the summer programme, responding to our alumni’s stated areas of interest and development needs and helping to address identified challenges at their home institutions. Themes change to reflect the demands and skills gaps of our alumni, contemporary issues, and challenges in both the museum and wider cultural heritage sector. Course themes ensure there is opportunity for fellows of varying roles and responsibilities to participate.

For the ITP team ITP+ courses are a real delight.  Having a smaller number of specialists join us means we can focus on a particular theme and think creatively around the subject – both in course content and in format.  But most of all, having just 10 fellows with us means we have time and space  to connect and catch-up in a way that’s never possible during larger events.

In August 2016 the ITP team asked the alumni for feedback on potential ITP+ Courses, enabling the team to create an analysis of needs and develop courses that would best help our fellows’ career development and support their institutions. Temporary exhibitions and permanent displays topped the list of courses that would most interest fellows, so the first ITP+ focussed on that theme.

We were delighted to welcome back to the UK:

  • Ikhlas Abdllatief Ahmed, Sudan National Museum (Sudan, ITP Fellow 2006)
  • Seyda Cetin, Meşher (Turkey, ITP Fellow 2014)
  • Anjan Dey, Research Institute of World’s Ancient (India, ITP Fellow 2010)
  • Sharareh Farokhnia, Iranian Cultural Heritage Handicraft and Tourism Organization (Iran, ITP Fellow 2015)
  • Bo Haikun, Palace Museum, Beijing (China, ITP Fellow 2008)
  • Asad Hayee, Rohtas 2 Gallery (Pakistan, ITP Fellow 2012)
  • Dikko Idris, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-Nigeria (Nigeria, ITP Fellow 2011)
  • Mahesh Kalra, Reserve Bank of India Museum (India, ITP Fellow 2013)
  • Yu Miao, Hubei Provincial Museum (China, ITP Fellow 2014)
  • Lydia Nafula, National Museums of Kenya (Kenya, ITP Fellow 2008)

A key aim of the course was to offer further opportunities to help fellows and their institutions develop skills and experiences. Additionally, the course created new networking opportunities with the hope of stimulating potential future collaborations. Within the ITP alumni the course reaffirmed existing relationships made during the summer programme and externally it hoped to increase the profile of the Programme.

The course, structured around a mixture of seminars with colleagues from the Museum and Programme Partners, offered creative workshops, hands-on-sessions and behind-the-scenes tours. There was also the opportunity to visit current exhibitions and new permanent displays at the British Museum and other major London museums. Discussion time and Q&A sessions allowed cultural and heritage professionals to brainstorm and debate around current and future displays.

The Course aimed to support and broaden fellows’ understanding of how to develop, manage and deliver temporary exhibitions and permanent displays. Sessions included:

  • Accessible museums
  • Adult programmes
  • Curatorial concept, proposal and development
  • Exhibition shops and merchandise
  • Family engagement
  • Fundraising
  • Interpretation and label writing
  • Marketing and press
  • Photography
  • Project management, engaging with stakeholders, and managing expectations and risk
  • Sustainability; visitor research

Taking these core learning strands, the course was developed around project-based learning. These key issues in temporary exhibitions and permanent displays were delivered through the context of the Museum’s then current and recent projects and programmes. Projects the programme focussed on were:-

  • The Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World
  • The Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia
  • American Dream: pop to present
  • Desire, love, identity: exploring LGBTQ histories
  • Rodin and the art of ancient Greece

The course provided an opportunity for fellows to re-connect with departmental representatives and meet new BM staff.  We were also delighted to welcome Dr. Michael Korey, Senior Curator, Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, who delivered a session on The Wondrous Course of the Planets; A Heavenly Machine for Elector August of Saxony. This exhibition used the “planetary clock” made for Elector August of Saxony between 1563 and 1568 as it centre piece, alongside animated films and hands-on models which offered visitors new ways to engage with this technical and artistic masterpiece.

Additionally, the ITP+ Course aimed to support fellows in creating a project proposal plan for their institution. As pre-course preparation prior to the programme, we asked attendees to think about an exhibition or gallery project they were working on or that they would like to propose for their institution in the future. We asked them to outline the project – briefly detailing their ideas, their aims and objects, and what they hoped to achieve. These proposals gave the ITP team the basis from which to develop the sessions, over the course of which fellows were able to adapt, revise and develop their proposal into a full project scope document.

On the first morning of the course, we asked all fellows to give a ten-minute PowerPoint presentation introducing themselves and their proposal so that they could ‘set the scene’ for their fellow attendees.

For those who weren’t able to attend this ITP+ but would like to know more about temporary exhibitions and permanent displays, here is the handy guide.