Wonderful Work Placement! Thoughts from a Post Grad Student

Carla Loyola Cruz

Studying Cultural Heritage Management is definitely one of the most rewarding fields to study; not everyone is able to learn how heritage, museums, galleries are managed and, most importantly, how important it is to create a bond between them and society. Since I started this MA at the University of York it has granted me new knowledge regarding heritage and collections management, and, through the writing of essays and heritage plans I have been able to put this newly gained knowledge into use. However, although this was rewarding, the actual experience of working within a heritage space was missing.

That’s why I was very thankful and excited to find a placement with Haworth Art Gallery during the Easter holidays. At first I hesitated a bit due to the fact that I would have to travel every day from York to Accrington, but now I can say all those early mornings have been completely worth it! This has been one of the most rewarding and amazing experiences I’ve had since I started the MA.

My first impression of the building was simply WOOW, and that was just by looking at it on the website; of course it didn’t disappoint once I was actually on site. The gallery is based in an astonishing old English house located at the top of a hill, surrounded by a lovely park which grants you a fantastic outdoorsy environment and landscape. However, all these outdoors settings have nothing compared to what is awaiting you inside of the house. The whole gallery is filled with gorgeous paintings and various objects created by local artists, which really gives you a glimpse into Accrington’s history; not to mentioned the Tiffany glass collection which is classified as an international collection.

One of my first jobs here was the inventory and re-packing of the ceramic and glass objects in one of the stores. Thanks to this now I have more experience in how objects are classified and stored, not to mention that I have discovered so many really amazing objects in there and I have had the opportunity to look at them up-close.

Another task I have been able to perform, and definitely one of my favourites, was learning how paintings of different sizes are stored onto racks. We were able to re-hang eight paintings in the store, where, again, I got to see up-close very nice art pieces created by local artists and experience being on the inside of an actual object store in a gallery.

Furthermore, I was invited to attend to a planning meeting, where some future exhibitions and workshops were discussed. It was very interesting to see how these matters are planned and how much work, collaboration with other fields and planning is done behind the scenes. Even as a student in this subject, it is hard to realise sometimes all the work involved to bring an exhibition to life.

Overall, this placement has been a one-time life experience. I can truly say my knowledge in the field has increased, I now realise that working in a place like this is way more complex and time consuming than it seems. Being able to work close up with the collections and handle heritage pieces, discover all kinds of interesting objects, and work side by side with the managers of the gallery has given me the opportunity to actually put my MA knowledge into practice. Thanks to Haworth Art Gallery, I now feel more prepared to start a career in the heritage sector.

Haworth Art Gallery is one of the most interesting galleries I have been to, it highlights the importance of Accrington’s history and roots. Not to mention that the management team have some great ideas to integrate and make visitors interact more with the collections. Thanks to this placement I feel very happy and honoured to say I was able to work at, and be part of, this gallery.

The only thing I have left to say is thank you, thank you Alison and Gillian for accepting and guiding me through this placement; you have made me feel very welcome. Thanks to all the staff members and volunteers, I have truly enjoyed my time working alongside you, as well as all those chats and brews! I am really looking forward to coming back once the gallery is back open!

Carla Loyola Cruz

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