21 Nov 2016

Starting as a Cultural Intern at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Hello! My name is Harriet Aldridge and I am the Cultural Intern at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG). I recently graduated with a First degree in Ancient History and Archaeology from the University of Birmingham, and am keen to kick-start my career in the heritage sector.

Night in the Museum

For my internship I am based with the exhibitions and design team at BMAG, where I am helping with the development and installation of several exhibitions. I am thrilled to be working with exhibitions officer Katie Hall (previous Cultural Intern) and Lisa Beauchamp, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. The main project I have been working on during my first few weeks is preparing for the instalment of Night in the Museum , an exhibition curated by artist Ryan Gander. 

I have been working with the learning officer and exhibitions officer to develop an interpretation booklet, which will enable visitors and staff to learn more about the pieces in from the Arts Council Collection. I have also met with an external design company to discuss the layout of the exhibition, which ranged from discussing text panels to object placement.

It has been an experience to see the Gas Hall change in colour and layout in anticipation of the exhibition. The first artworks have just started arriving, and I am looking forward to conducting some condition reporting and object inspection. 

This project has also enabled me to liaise with different departments, such as operations, in planning for the private launch event.

Gas Hall in preparation for Night in the Museum
The Gas Hall undergoing a makeover in preparation for Night in the Museum.

New Art West Midlands

I have also been fortunate to be involved with New Art West Midlands (NAWM), which is an exhibit displaying works from recent graduates of West Midland art schools. I have been collating key information to the NAWM artists, and I am extremely excited to be liaising directly with them. I have had a few meetings with some of the artists to discuss their display requirements, and have enjoyed hearing their propositions for the exhibit. 

I have been helping with the installation schedule also, which involved producing 3D models and scale images of the exhibition space and artwork. This was an exciting part of the project and provided me with a really useful skill for any future exhibits I may work with.

Scale model of the Waterhall
Scale model of the Waterhall, where NAWM artworks will be placed.

Birmingham People and Places

I am also extremely excited to be managing an exhibition space in the Birmingham People and Places gallery, under the guidance of Jo-Ann Curtis (Curator of History). I have been developing content for a project focussing on the Paradise Development, and will be working with CORE, the marketing company for the development project. 

My job in this project required me to choose topographical material, budget for the display, write interpretational panels, as well as design a layout for the exhibition. I am extremely excited to be a part of this project, and learn about the logistics and management of exhibition planning. I have created a scale model display for the gallery and am in the process of arranging a layout for the display. 

Birmingham People and Places Gallery
This is the Birmingham People and Places Gallery, where the Paradise display will be.

I recently collected a scale model of the Paradise Circus development from CORE to be used in the gallery. 

Paradise Circus model
The Paradise Circus model to be used in the gallery.

Ceramics Gallery - Josiah Wedgwood

I am also working on a re-display of pottery in the industry gallery. I have selected a display on Wedgwood’s Black Basalt ware. My task here is to re-write the label panels and try and group objects together. I have also been able to update the collection list, and re-arrange the display according to how I saw fit. Researching these objects has been very enjoyable, as they actually relate quite nice to my Ancient History degree, with many of the objects having an Ancient Egyptian theme.

Josiah Wedgwood Egyptian themed inkpot
My favourite object in the Josiah Wedgwood display. An Egyptian themed inkpot, covered in fake hieroglyphics with a Griffins head on one end.

In between all these amazing projects (and also helping to organise a conference for the West Midlands Egyptology Society) I have also found the time to proof read texts for other displays, as well as undertake a Hazards and Object handling workshop with the conservation team. I am also due to help audit some of the archaeological collection at the Museum Collections Centre, as well as arrange a meet up with the Portable Antiquities staff. 

The Future

Given that I have only been here a little over a month and have already sampled so much, I cannot wait to see what else I can get involved in! I hope these 6 months do not go too fast! I will be writing another blog in February when I will only have 1 month left!