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International delegation of museum professionals visits Cincinnati

Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center host delegation for tours and discussion

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center hosted an international delegation of museum professionals Thursday. The delegation included eight individuals, each from a different country, that participated in two roundtables with Cincinnati Museum Center staff followed by tours of the museums. The delegation’s visit was part of a multi-city tour throughout the United States, visiting museums in different cities for insight on best practices and to allow for a free flow of ideas.
Museum professionals from Bolivia, Ghana, Kuwait, Liberia, the Palestinian Territories, Singapore, Slovakia and Zimbabwe participated in a roundtable discussions with Cincinnati Museum Center’s curators, archaeologist, paleontologist, director of volunteers, archives staff and museum directors. The discussion offered the delegation an opportunity to ask Museum Center staff questions about curatorial issues, volunteer management, museum programming and general operations, gaining insight they could then take back to their museums and apply. The roundtable also allowed the delegation to offer their own expertise that will help Museum Center staff improve operations and programming.
“Our local community benefits from hosting these visitors because our region’s professionals showcase their talent globally and share tactics that the visitors will take back to implement in their respective countries,” says Michelle Harpenau, executive director of the World Affairs Council of Greater Cincinnati. “Our professionals become ambassadors and the diplomatic arm for our city, region and nation.”
Between the roundtable discussions the group was given a tour of the Museum of Natural History & Science, Cincinnati History Museum and Duke Energy Children’s Museum by each museum’s director. Curators and museum volunteers also joined the tours, helping to give the delegation a guest-level and behind the scenes view of the museums.
“I’ve been in the United States on this tour for two weeks through several cities already and this is my favorite museums I’ve seen,” said Bashayer Al-Awwad, head volunteer of the Kuwaiti Heritage Preservation Team for the Bayt Al-Othman Museum. “This is the first museum I’ve seen where I say ‘Wow, I like this museum 100%.'”
This is the second year a group of museum professionals has visited Cincinnati Museum Center. This year’s group, however, doubled the four that visited in 2013.
“This program is such a unique opportunity for us to engage the global museum community and we’re honored to be able to share the expertise of our professionals on staff here with the global community,” says Douglass McDonald, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “More importantly, the discussions we had with this delegation really helped us walk away with new sets of challenges and goals to continue to grow and develop as an institution.”
The group also visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center following the roundtable discussions and tour of Cincinnati Museum Center.
The group of museum professionals is part of the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), launched in 1940 by the U.S. State Department. The program helps strengthen U.S. engagement with countries around the world and cultivate lasting relationships by connecting current and emerging foreign leaders with their American counterparts through short-term visits to the United States. The program is administered locally by the World Affairs Council of Greater Cincinnati.
“This premiere exchange program would not be coming to Cincinnati without the chance to experience, for instance, Cincinnati Museum Center which planned a half day of dialogue and tours including meetings with all levels of staff,” added Harpenau. “These one-on-one experiences with their American colleagues will stay with the visitors throughout the rest of their lives.”
In addition to Cincinnati, the delegation has visited Washington, D.C. and San Francisco and will continue on to Rochester and New York City.

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