As part of the MA course of Art Gallery Museum Studies, a 20-day work placement should be undertaken at a cultural organisation in the UK. The one in which I worked is the Lady Lever Art Gallery (LLAG) belonging to the National Museums Liverpool (NML). The LLAG is engaged in a restoration and conservation programme of the South End Galleries which will be reopened in 2016 with a lot of new exhibitions and interactives, by receiving a £1.2m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The LLAG was founded by William Hesketh Lever (1851-1929), a businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist, and was formally opened on 16 December 1922 by Princess Beatrice. The galleries in the redevelopment programme include South Vestibule, South Sculpture Gallery, two Wedgwood Rooms, Chinoiserie Room, 18th Century Room, two Chinese galleries, and Napoleon Room; of these, I worked with the two Chinese galleries.

My work placement was with Pauline Rushton, the curator of Costume and Textiles of the National Museums Liverpool, who mainly is in charge of the text writing of all the redisplaying rooms.  What I did could be divided into three aspects. Firstly, I joined the consultation programme by assisting a range of gallery events such as Chinese New Year gallery trail, Craft Workshop and Chinese Harp Performance, as well as interviewing the Wirral Chinese Association. Secondly, I attended a series of designing meetings with directors of all departments focused on the interactives of each South End gallery for different target audiences such as audio visual and multimedia, tactile and multisensory, lighting and mechanical interactives. Finally, I undertook much research work on interpretation of Chinese objects and Chinese culture; for example highlighting four objects of two Chinese galleries as well as providing Chinese characters with pinyin, English pronunciation and meaning in Chinese culture.

The work placement experience in LLAG with Pauline and other staff I met with was extremely valuable and unforgettable for me. I assisted the LLAG interpret Chinese objects with my Chinese culture context and the background knowledge of Chinese art history. In addition, I gained a clearer insight on the museum’s curating, interpretation and interactives and educational consultation through the collaboration of different departments. I am really looking forward to the reopening of the South End Galleries at Lady Lever Art Gallery.

lady lever
Sketch scheme of the new displays. © National Museums Liverpool