British photographic history

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The Victoria and Albert Museum Photography Curators’ Training Programme

Art photography collections are held at regional museums, libraries and archives across the country but often without specialist curatorial expertise and, subsequently, many photography collections tend to be 'dormant' and inaccessible to experts and audiences, and curators responsible for photography collections do not have access to the necessary staffing and financial resources, or knowledge and specialist skills to actively develop their collections.

Building on the success of a two year programme, the Art Fund has agreed to support a third year of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s programme to help support the development of curatorial expertise in art photography, working with regional museum partners. 

Programme Aims

  • To provide an unparalleled practical training opportunity in photographs curatorship in the UK to build expertise in the field and, specifically, to equip a curator with specialist knowledge of photography and the ability to care for and develop photograph collections;
  • To enable UK organisations to raise the public profile of their permanent collections of photographs and to improve public access, both physically and intellectually;

The Programme

The V&A will work with a regional partner, chosen by open competition.  The successful partner will have a permanent collection of art photography and be able to identify a discrete project for the assistant curator to deliver which will benefit the collection, the organisation and its audiences.  It is likely that the successful partner will not currently have staff expertise in art photography. This project will result in material outcomes for the regional partner which could include, but are not limited to, an exhibition, a refocus of the collecting policy, a publication or cataloguing of the collection.

The project may, if wished, be related to a specific theme, for example, processes and techniques, British industry, British colonialism, Protest, Childhood, or Landscape.  Tangible outcomes will be agreed with the chosen partner at the outset of the project, including a requirement for at least one seminar to be held towards the end of the placement to share good practice learnt in the context of the particular project.

The V&A and the selected partner will work together to support the aims of the programme and will be required to enter into a contract regarding the delivery of the project, including confirmation of the organisation’s capacity to support the assistant curator, by providing a nominated support manager for the post-holder, normally a senior curator and agreeing a regular reporting process.

The partner will contribute or source project costs for the participant’s placement project, working with the partner’s photographs collection, using the small contribution from the project budget (£3,000) as seed money.

Once the partner is selected and project agreed, an assistant curator will be recruited. Participants will spend approximately six months in the Photographs section of the Word and Image Department at the V&A, with a V&A curator as mentor and six months at the partner museum working on the agreed project.

The V&A will support the post-holder in developing their curatorial skills through work with the V&A photography collection and via participation in relevant V&A training modules.  The V&A mentor will assist the participant in defining and developing their placement museum project and provide mentoring support over the six months they deliver the project at the partner museum.

The Art Fund will provide the V&A with funding to employ the assistant curator for the duration of the project on a 12 month fixed term contract each and travel expenses to enable the post-holder to work between the V&A and the regional partner.  There will also be attendance at relevant conferences and visits to other important photographic collections. 

Timescale

Partner selection:

Deadline for museums applications:       20 April 2018

Panel meet to select regional partners:   w/c 23 April 2018

Assistant curator selection:

Advertisements:  w/c 7 May 2018

Deadline for applications: 31 May 2018

Interview panel for assistant curator (regional partner to attend):  early June 2018

 

Based at the V&A: July – December 2018

Based at the regional partner: January-June 2019

 

Contact

Should you have any questions, please contact

Julia Brettell, National Programmes Manager 

Victoria and Albert Museum

South Kensington

London

SW7 2RL

Tel: 020 7942 2537

Email: j.brettell@vam.ac.uk

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