This is the lovely Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in Bradford. This amazing Museum and Art Gallery is where I have been completing my work placement as part of my Art Gallery and Museum Studies MA at the University of Manchester.

Cartwright Hall in bloom

I have been researching the International Print Biennales that took place here between 1968 and 1990. The legacy of the print biennales, is essentially a world class collection of prints representing some of the very best artists from the second half of the twentieth century, including such names as David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenburg, & Bridget Riley. So, an incredible collection to be involved with.

I have been putting together a report on the biennales and investigating Cartwright Hall’s collections management system. This has involved diving into dusty archives and ferreting out lost pieces of information. I got to make new connections and discoveries making the archive more useful for researchers, but also, to inform plans for further public engagement around the biennales.

This was the very best kind of work experience I could have hoped for. It enabled me to up my skill level by learning how to use a piece of software that is well known and used across museums in Britain. It also gave me invaluable experience in report writing and archival research. These are the less glamorous parts of curating, but I saw them as essential skills to build.

I got to work with an amazing team of people, who were always willing to take time to help me wherever they could. I got to see them prepare for one major temporary show and the installation of a new permanent gallery, this insight was invaluable. As was seeing and being involved with the day to day business of running a large local authority museum.

The level of professionalism that the staff brought to all the work they did made me realise that achieving the high standards we set ourselves working in museums is difficult but can be achieved. The work placement made the theory I had learnt at University real, an incredible insight into what I want to do!