My name is Jeni Allison and I am a full time student on the Art Gallery and Museum Studies MA course. I undertook my placement at the Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery on the Health and Culture Programme. This placement was advertised as a late edition, and when I received an email about it I was instantly interested. The placement would give me the chance to work in two large organisations in Manchester. Most of my previous experience had been in small galleries or artist-run spaces, so I was keen to have experience of working within a larger organisation. The varied workload on offer appealed to me, as I wanted experience of working in partnership with large organizations, as well as having the opportunity to try various aspects of museum-based work (including marketing, collections research and resource creation).

Through the placement I was involved in lots of different activities including making resources for visitors to the gallery with dementia, collating research on other arts for health programmes across Manchester and helping with events which were part of Sick! Festival. ( A personal highlight of the placement was assisting with the set up and technical rehearsal for La Ribot which was part of Sick! Festival. I had written my undergraduate dissertation on performance art, including the work of La Ribot, and so having the opportunity to work with her on her performance at the Whitworth was very exciting for me.

La Ribot – ‘Laughing Hole’ at the Whitworth Art Gallery as part of Sick Festival.  March 2015. Photo – Jeni Allison
La Ribot – ‘Laughing Hole’ at the Whitworth Art Gallery as part of Sick Festival. March 2015. Photo – Jeni Allison

Out-with these events I spent a lot of time making resources for people suffering from dementia. Prior to coming to Manchester I had studied at the Glasgow School of Art and have practical art, creative and CAD skills, which I had the opportunity to utilize during my placement. Specifically I created a series of colouring-in resources based on artworks in the Whitworth’s permanent collection using Photoshop. This was interesting to me, as it combined both my skills gained through a design based undergraduate degree and my interest in research. To develop the resources I utilized Montessori learning theory, which is employed across the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth in developing dementia resources. I really enjoyed this process as it made me think about how design processes can be adapted to be useful in a healthcare setting.

As a result of my placement I have made lots of contacts in the Whitworth Art Gallery and Mancheser Museum, and have been offered paid work on both the Health and Culture Programme and the Family Programme at the Whitworth. It has therefore been very beneficial for my career development.