AberForward intern Emily Willis writes about her placement at the School of Art

Annabelle (right) and Emily (left) putting up the Print REbels exhibitions

Prior to this work placement I had no experience working in a museum or gallery and was keen to find voluntary or employment in this sector. So, when the opportunity of a four-week paid work placement in the School of Art Museum and Galleries at Aberystwyth University arose via the AberForward scheme I immediately applied. Luckily the duration of my placement as a Curatorial and Technical Support Assistant came at a most opportune time to experience the whole process of preparing, installing and uninstalling an exhibition.

My colleague and I gained invaluable experience working within an academic museum and gallery, and experienced many of the curatorial activities including conservation mounting, framing and cataloguing photographs for an exhibition at the Manchester Central Library A Radical Tradition / Eine Radikale Tradition: Heimat photography in the Third Reich from the School of Art’s own collection, and prints from the collection for the touring exhibition Print REbels: Haden, Palmer, Whistler and the Origins of the RE. This gave us insight into the first step of setting up an exhibition by preparing the prints being displayed, and the method of conservation mounting.

My favourite part of this experience was installing the Print REbels exhibition in the two School of Art galleries. This included unpacking, condition-checking and hanging the pre-framed prints, and the prints we had mounted and framed ourselves. It was exciting to be involved in the whole process of preparing the collection, arranging the pieces, to measuring and securing them in the galleries.

In addition to these curatorial duties we also carried out some archival administration; checking, correcting and organising ceramic acquisitions documentation for the Ceramics Collection, and then distributing the relevant material to the archive files.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on this placement and was very sad to leave! However, I am very grateful for having had this experience and it has already helped me to boost my CV and job applications. I would like to say a big thank you to Neil Holland and Phil Garrett for their continued help and guidance as my placement tutors! I feel that I am now equipped with the essential skills, knowledge and eagerness to learn more about working in this job sector.


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