I was always excited to study in Manchester, mostly because of the famous bands created here. I always loved listening to the Smiths in high school, and was excited to live in the city they came from and learn more about Manchester’s music history. When we were able to pick our placement, my first choice was working at the Manchester Digital Music Archive as an Exhibition and Events Assistant. The exhibition? Suffragette City: Women in Manchester Music. It was like a dream come true. Music and women’s history in one placement? That had my name written all over it and I was so excited to get started.
Alison Surtees, my placement supervisor, is someone I’ve come to highly respect. Not only does she know everything when it comes to music, but she is so talented at creating exhibitions and bringing people together. It was a privilege to work with her on this project. Not to mention, it was always great to hear her stories as a teenager and young adult in Manchester, and her experiences growing up with the famous music scene. She is someone that I want to work with again in the future and hopefully create more exhibitions with.
The placement itself involved organizing and coordinating the women represented in both the online and physical exhibitions, and making sure their biographies were completed in time to be edited and printed. I also helped to coordinate the photoshoots for their portraits and made sure they were completed on time as well. Since the archive is all online and does not have a physical location, I was able to work at home for most of the placement. This had both its pros and cons, the good thing was that I could work in my pajamas, but sometimes I felt far away from the actual exhibition, and it would feel isolating working from my computer as opposed to being around people.
With the online exhibition, there was the physical exhibition as well, which was shown at the Refuge in the Principal Hotel. The opening night was a huge success and people were crowding around the portraits and taking photographs. It was also great because I was able to meet the very women I was working with over email. They are all so amazing and inspiring and it was an honor to work with them and talk to them.
I highly recommend volunteering at the Manchester Digital Music Archive, especially if you have a passion for music. I hope to work with them again in future exhibitions, and shed light on Manchester’s music history.
Morgan Mazzocco is a Master’s Student in the Art Galleries and Museum Studies programme at the Institute for Cultural Practices.