The Birth Rites Collection is a contemporary arts collection based on the topic of childbirth at the University of Salford, Manchester. I was drawn to this placement due to its interesting subject matter of which I had absolutely zero experience or knowledge in. For me, childbirth was something that was done behind closed doors: covert, taboo ‘other’. However, my experience as a curatorial intern for the collection forced me to engage with the ‘other’ in a public realm, humanising and realising something so different to my prior knowledge.
The team was small, of three female staff including myself, however the other two were mothers. At first I was worried that I would not be able to engage with the work in the way that the other two staff could, however, I found that my lack experience on the subject matter provided a unique insight of interpretation of the work.
Although my role was named “curatorial intern”, I, in fact, did very little curating. Most of the tasks that I dealt with each week involved marketing, social media and the organisation of the Birth Rites Collections’ 2015 event; the Bi-annual Award. This meant that the skills I gained from the opportunity were highly transferable. I enjoyed the opportunity to use my own initiative and working in a small team meant that I was able to have a lot of responsibility and make the most of every opportunity.
My favourite aspect of the placement was working on the technical aspects of the exhibition such as working with assistants on touch screens, a Twitter live feed and a digital show reel. Before my work placement, I could just about use the internet and word process but now I am able to digitally record and create elements of film.
Overall, the experience at the Birth Rites Collection gave me invaluable professional experience to develop further. It has changed my attitudes towards childbirth and childbirth practice and made me more aware of the perception of pregnant women in today’s society. I believe that this was an important step towards my career in galleries and museums.