Written by Claire Messenger, Manager, International Training Programme

We wanted to wish you all a very Happy New Year and give you a brief up-date on what we will be doing in the first few months of 2021.

While 2020 has been challenging and unexpected, and who knows what 2021 will bring, the ITP team is working to find new and exciting opportunities to engage with our network of fellows, our UK and programme partners and the wider heritage and cultural community.

Summer programme and legacy projects Due to the Coronavirus global pandemic, the ITP summer programme, ITP Futures event, Senior Fellow 2020 and the ITP Edinburgh/MA Conference were all postponed.  We are now starting to work on plans for those events and programmes to take place taking into considering changing travel, visa and workplace restrictions.  As soon as we have firm news on dates and format, we will share that news with everyone.

Anna is already planning that our ITP Futures event will begin remotely through a series of online sessions which will bring our Senior Fellows together.  As well as an opportunity for the group to connect, these sessions, based in part on those we had planned for the London programme, will kickstart the project and start the process of considering our future in a participatory and inclusive way.  Together with our Senior Fellows and key colleagues across the BM and our UK network, we will be considering new and creative ways for the ITP alumni to become an integral part of the Museum’s plans for the future of the Programme.  We will, of course, share the outcomes of these sessions with you, our wider network, for your thoughts and feedback.

The ITP blogsite We are working to up-date the blogsite to ensure it stays current and engaging.  We will be up-dating your biographies, so if there is any information you haven’t shared with us so far – any job changes, new projects, new qualifications – please do let us know.

We will also be adding a new ITP community forum to provide a space for discussion and exchange.   George will be sharing more information on that soon!!

In 2020 we ITP teamed with students from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts, USA, to work on a second online exhibition to showcase the Object in focus projects created by our ITP fellows each summer.  There is more work to do entering content and populating the site, but it will be ready to share in 2021.

Social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) has been the perfect place for engagement and conversation during 2020 with #AskAConservator, #MuseumPassion, #Museum30 and #MuseumFromHome proving firm favourites with our fellows.  George is currently working on a social media plan to share with you which will look at how best we can share news and views across our platforms.

We will also be building on the content currently held in the ‘password protected’ section of the blogsite to increase the number of course resources.  This will include all the online sessions that were recorded, along with any additional resources, being made available. 

Continuing knowledge exchange Following on from the success of our online subject specialist sessions, and with your invaluable feedback, we are planning to continue sharing knowledge, skills and experiences. The online sessions will develop this year to include more formalised and structured e-learning which can take place remotely, both live or at a time that suits the recipient.  Our fellows thoughts on content, format and schedule will help us create a programme that continues to cater for our network’s needs.

Conference and research grants Next week Anna will be sharing details of our new and up-dated conference and research grants.  If you have a place at a conference or a research proposal that needs additional financial support we might be able to help you.  In response to fellows seeking support to attend conferences and carry out research, the ITP will be offering fellows financial assistance to attend and participate in conferences and to conduct research which will develop their professional skills in the museum and heritage sector.   Keep checking the ITP blog for more information!!!

Network analysis Anna has been collecting information across the network on COVID-19 related projects and programmes which highlight the work of our fellows during the pandemic.  She is also collating feedback and reflections on our new, online ITP sessions to help us to continue to develop and deliver more sessions that work for more of our network both logistically and in content.  Anna will be sharing the results of her work shortly.

COVID collecting In 2020 we held an online discussion on COVID-19 collecting. Colleagues shared their collecting stories; aims and objectives; ethical considerations and reflections on their learning for the future. Following the session, a small working group will convene later this month look at how to take this discussion forward. This will include outputs that reflect the impact of the pandemic on societies and museums, as embodied by both tangible and intangible heritage.

ITP Films Finally, Anna will be creating and delivering a project to launching a series of ITP films to demonstrate the various skills, individuals, museums and the vast amount of knowledge across our network.  Themes will include current issues and challenges across the sector, and we will aim to include as many ITP fellows as possible.  These films will also be available on our ITP blog site.

But whatever happens over the next 12 months, we hope that the ITP continues to support and engage our network and of course, if you have ideas or thoughts you would like to share with us, please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time – I’d love to hear from you.