Written by Claire Messenger, Manager, International Training Programme.

In summer 2017 the British Museum and ten UK partner museums welcomed 25 fellows from 18 countries between 1 July and 12 August. Fellows took part in sessions, workshops, working groups, behind-the-scenes tours and study visits, all designed to give as wide as possible overview of museums and cultural heritage in the UK.

The twelfth annual International Training Programme (ITP) summer programme saw the addition of six new countries to our growing global network being joined by fellows from Guatemala, Indonesia, Lesotho, Myanmar (Burma), New Zealand and Zimbabwe – connections which have developed and grown into long-term, sustainable and rewarding partnerships.

Sadly in 2017 Birmingham Museums Trust wasn’t able to work on the ITP, however, we were delighted to welcome Norfolk Museums Service to our network who kindly agreed to partner with us that summer.   Colleagues in Norwich hosted four fellows, introducing them to their fascinating and diverse portfolio of museums, and NMS has stayed with us as partners ever since.

In 2017 we were thrilled that Iain Watson, Director, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, was able to join us to deliver a fascinating session and workshop on leadership, vision and strategy.  Iain’s session talked about what made a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ leader – something that provoked some very interesting and passionate discussions!!!  Art historian and curator Miriam Lloyd-Evans led a subject-specialist session on curating temporary exhibitions and displays which helped to support our Object in focus project.  And we also introduced new workshops on national partnerships, visitor experience and audience feedback for the first time.

Summer 2017 also saw a change to our Object in focus project where our fellows are asked to plan and propose a temporary exhibition.  For the first time, fellows worked in partnership which provided yet another excellent opportunity to develop strong working relationships, enhance the ITP global network and demonstrate the benefits and challenges of working collaboratively.

Continuing with our Senior Fellow placement, Hayk Mkrtchyan (Armenia, 2014) returned to the British Museum for three months as the 2017 Senior Fellow – the fifth Fellow in this role. As Project Coordinator of the Museum Education Center where he developed and delivered training programmes for museum educators in Armenia, Hayk already has an excellent understanding of the benefits and challenges of running skill-sharing programmes. This, combined with his knowledge and experience of the ITP in 2014, made him an ideal candidate for this role. While here in the UK, as well as gaining further insight into the ITP with meetings on partnerships, funding, networking, reporting and evaluation, Hayk was also able to meet colleagues at the Museums Association and Annabel Jackson, the ITP’s external evaluator. He reconnected with staff at Glasgow Museums, Manchester Museum and The Collection in Lincoln, travelled to Norwich to meet our new partner for this summer, and spent time in the departments of the Middle East and Coins and Medals, discussing their Armenian objects and sharing expertise.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking back at our ITP summer programmes and legacy projects – I know I’ve loved looking through our amazing collection of photographs.  And I’ll be looking forward to sharing more Throwback Thursdays with you in new year and hopefully, COVID permitting, creating some new memories in 2021.