Elliot Goodger, Museum Manager at Nantwich Museum travelled to France in January 2019 with an ICOM UK – British Council Travel Grant. This is the report from Elliot’s visit:
The purpose of my visit was to research objects and take photographs for an exhibition we are planning at Nantwich Museum on Macon and town twinning. In addition I intended to share photographs between ourselves and the many museums and heritage sites in Macon, especially regarding our shared cheese and wine heritage.
During my visit I met with the local town twinning group and the Mayor and representatives at the Macon Town Hall. I met with curators at all of the local museums to exchange photographs and postcards and discuss the best and worst elements about museums in our respective countries. I also researched local vineyards. For the exhibition I am curating, I managed to take my own photographers of Macon which I can use copyright free as well as sourcing existing photographs, objects and resources. I was even gifted a gold city map trail to display in the exhibition. In return I gifted objects and resources about Nantwich.
This opportunity has provided me experience in working internationally, allowing me to create new professional networks and unique resources, information and ideas needed to research and curate my first international exhibition about Macon, France. It also inspired ideas for events such as cheese and wine tasting based on Burgundian produce. From my conversations it will hopefully generate new audiences to Nantwich Museum, and I also hope my exhibition can be used as a platform to inspire interest in town twinning and for local Nantwich people to visit our twinned town in France. I even found a good international poetry competition that I can open up to our schools in Nantwich. In addition the conversations I had during my visit encouraged the organisations in Macon to review their international offer by considering English interpretation and new audiences as well as considering Nantwich as a broader theme.
Challenges I encountered included difficulty with language and communication, difficulty in getting around on public transport and sometimes curators were too busy for sustained conversations. I also couldn’t find any WW1 stories of individuals, just general narratives.My advice would be is to connect with as many curators as possible via email, as early as you can, before your trip in order to ensure smooth communication, readiness and detailed tours and exchanges. I would also organise transport links as early as possible as it may be necessary to have a driver or a car depending on the rural nature of your location. Keep regular communication and involve your local twinning organisation and community in your project, if appropriate, in both countries. If possible, before visiting try and learn the the language at a competent level because not everyone will speak English.
“We welcome Elliot highlighting our shared heritage and showcasing the relationship with our twinned town in Macon, France and it will allow locals to become more interested in town twinning and interested in our European neighbours, and we look forward to the upcoming exhibition”.
Janette Seaber – Director