This week I was very lucky to be able to participate in a Public Administration International Conference. It was a week long course that focused on Heritage, Culture and Tourism: Policy and Practice for Maximizing Results. The course was hosted by the very knowledgeable June Taboroff. Our agenda consisted of lectures and presentations in the morning and site visits in the afternoon. It was very interesting to see how different sites attract and maintain tourists and seeing the difference between how government sponsored agencies work compared to private or charitable ones. Another interesting aspect about the conference was that each attendee was from a different country, so everyone had a different situation they were trying to accomplish which led to great conversation and sharing best practices with each other.
The site visits were the best because we had to the opportunity to meet with people from the British Museum, the Tate Modern, and the King’s Cross Rejuvenation Project. Each afternoon was more informative than the last one. It also opened my eyes to how huge some of these organizations are and the amount of objects that are in their collections. You could spend a whole week at the British Museum and still not see everything. I definitely experienced museum fatigue where you just cannot take in any more information or see any more objects.
Another one of the many highlights of the week was the launch of the Czech National Trust. INTO helped with the creation of the Czech National Trust, and they had their official launch party at the Reform Club in Pall Mall, which is a beautiful venue and historical in its own right. During this internship, I hope to work a little with the Czech National Trust in their starting months and see their launch project of preserving and restoring the tomb of Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach a famous feminist literary throughout the Czech Republic and Austria. The launch went very well and it will be exciting to follow the Czech National Trust’s progress as a new heritage organization.
The last and probably oddest experience that I have ever had was participating in the Summer Solstice celebrations at Avebury and Stonehenge. The idea was to stay up the whole night and see the sunrise over Stonehenge. It is only during the solstice, that people are actually allowed to go near and touch the stones. Catherine and I volunteered with the National Trust property of Avebury in the meet and greet team for the Summer Solstice festivities. Along with keeping people safe, we tried to keep the grounds clean, and I like to think that we did! It was interesting to see how these World Heritage Sites keep tradition of the solstice celebration alive. At Avebury they had the King Drum Circle with fire throwers and dancing. It was very much a pagan festival though it seemed like a combination of Halloween and music festival. There were definitely some characters there. After our volunteer shift ended, we took a rest then drove the thirty minutes to Stonehenge to see the sunrise. Even though it was ridiculously crowded, it was breathtaking and a great experience. Afterwards though you are basically a zombie :).