After long deliberation, I decided that one of the modules I was going to take during my second semester on my MA was the placement module. I knew from the start that I desperately wanted to work at Manchester Art Gallery because from a very young age I have regularly visited it and the paintings in it’s collection inspired me to follow my passion for art. I was uncertain that if I chose the placement module I would get my first choice or indeed my second. Lo and behold I did!
‘Documentation for Access’ was the title of the project that I was to undertake for the next 20 days. Primarily, it started off as a ‘space saving’ exercise. I was asked to work with certain artist files (British artists) and go through removing any information that I deemed irrelevant, i.e duplicate copies and information that could be better recorded online. The second part of my placement required me to work with the online documentation system called KEeMU. I had to make sure that any information that I found in the files was correctly recorded here. I worked with a number of artists. Some of them had only one file to their name whilst others like William Holman Hunt had fifteen files bursting with information on paintings that were acquired in the late nineteenth century.
During my time I was allowed to experience other aspects to the gallery. I went to their conservation studios a number of times and had opportunity to talk to the conservators about what they did. I did a little bee keeping as well! Manchester Art Gallery produce their own honey which they call ‘Bee-Raphaelite honey’ and this is part of an incentive to build their own roof-top garden. That was an amazing experience even if I did get stung!
My placement developed into other roles such as helping with conserving the artists files. There are certain letters in some of the files that are very old and so needed to be stored safely. I also ended up putting together a report on what I did that they will use to translate to everyone what should and shouldn’t be in the files. In some cases I re-organised the files all together.
I really loved this placement so much so that when my manager asked me if I would like to stay on after my 20 days were up I definitely couldn’t resist saying yes.