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Institute for Cultural Practices

Work placements

Getting involved with work placements and residencies is a great way to learn and make useful contacts.

Props department

Placement projects are based in arts and cultural organisations in Manchester (or areas within daily travelling distance). They are arranged by the Institute for Cultural Practices.

Each placement involves a minimum of twenty days work on a specific project, such as:

  • collections management
  • event development and evaluation
  • audience engagement
  • exhibition development
  • marketing and fundraising
  • digital and online media
  • educational programmes.

How long is a placement?

You start your placement in November/December and finish in May. This means that you get to see and be involved in various stages of the project that you would be working on, e.g. festival programme or exhibition project that span several months.

Spreading out the placement over several months also gives you the opportunity to be part of the organisation’s team over a longer period of time and get a good understanding of the institutional time, processes and practices.

Many students find this such a positive experience that they carry on working in their placement organisation when the work placement has finished, and each year a few students are offered jobs by their placement hosts.

Is the placement credited?

Students write a work placement report that reflects on the undertaken project. You can take the work placement either as 15-credit OR 30-credit course.

Students who do the former also take another 60 credits of option courses in Semester 2. Students who do the latter, take one 30-credit option course in Semester 2

Can part-time students take part?

Part-time students who work already in an arts or cultural institution have the option to either take one of the placements we offer, or create a placement project within their organisation in collaboration with their line manager. These students can do their placement either in Year 1 or Year 2.

Examples of placements offered in 2015-16

Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, Manchester Central Library

Oral history project assistant

The placement will support the documentation of oral history recordings (editing, transcribing and producing summaries), and could offer further opportunities in conducting interviews, supporting the arts project or developing the website. Students will learn about oral history methodology, and gain practical skills in recording, interviewing, transcribing, documentation and community engagement.

The Atkinson, Southport

First Ladies exhibition

We can offer a student placement to help us research and develop this exhibition, particularly in helping to devise an events and activities programme alongside the exhibition, exploring interpretation within the galleries and on line for families and young people, including practical activities, making contacts with schools and colleges to promote the show, developing on-line and social media opportunities for public engagement. We also would like support in ongoing evaluation of the programme that will help us develop future programmes with and for families and young people.

Elizabeth Gaskell's House

Audience development and learning assistant

We are looking for placement students that are interested in one or more of the areas below:

  • Education – developing learning resources for a school audience, delivering sessions, marketing and administration of a new learning programme.
  • Marketing and publicity (including digital media) – this includes marketing of special events and developing publicity.
  • Community Outreach – working on creative projects that engage with our local community.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House opened in October 2014. We are a small staff of 2 and have a volunteer base of over 70. We open to the public 3 days a week, have a diverse events programme and welcome private tours, community and learning visits on both public and non-public days.
Our audience development focus in 2015/16 is the growth of our learning programme, engagement with the local community and developing a robust marketing and publicity strategy. As we are a small team, placement students would be able to take lead on individual projects as directed, gaining vital project administration skills. This would also include elements of volunteer management.

John Ryland's Library, University of Manchester

The World of Li Yuan chia: a museological conundrum

This aims of this placement will be to assist the Curators in Special Collections, University of Manchester Library (UML) to unravel the museological conundrum that is the artist - Li Yuan chia’s - Collection by:

  • working with the Collections Assistants in the Manuscripts, Archives and Visual Collections teams, review the inventory of the collection which comprises works of art, objects, archival papers, records relating to the LYC Museum and books
  • producing a documentation strategy for the Collection which takes account of its cross domain hybrid nature
  • undertaking training in preservation issues and collection-handling with the curatorial and collection care team
  • producing a short narrative report which reflects on the theoretical framework underpinning the proposed strategy for documentation
  • contributing postings to the Special Collections blog about things of interest found in the Collection 

Manchester Art Gallery

Documentation for Access placement

We are looking to select a student to work on this exciting project which aims to explore the gallery’s artist files/archival material and scope out the feasibility of digitising the wealth of supporting information contained within. The artist files are a large repository of acquisition information, references, letters, news articles, extracts from journals, research, correspondence, and related material about the artists. They are regularly consulted by our curators as research for exhibitions and enquiries and are extremely valuable in terms of their content.
The student will be working closely with the Collections Information Manager and the Curators. 

Museum of Science and Industry

Oral history documentation assistant

The placement student will gain hands-on experience of oral history work, with the opportunity to assist in interview preparation, use solid-state recording equipment during interviews and document the oral histories to museum standards for deposit in the archive. The student will also gain an insight into the importance of the ethical guidelines and permissions associated with oral history gathering. There will also be the opportunity for the student to explore the extent of the museum’s collection of oral histories and make some recommendations about which recording should be prioritised for documentation, as well as how the recordings could be used in future gallery developments, based on research into current museum practice.

National Museums Liverpool

Online exhibition researcher/collator and writer

The placement will research and identify content for an on-line exhibition on the subject of the 1941 Liverpool Blitz and the destruction of World Museum and its collections entitled, The Day the Museum Nearly Died.
You will:

  • Liaise with curators across NML to identify objects affected by the Blitz and record relevant stories
  • Working with the Head of Ethnology you will devise the narrative and story arch and collate all visual and media sources needed for the on-line exhibition
  • Liaise with web team colleagues (and your fellow placement student who is working on social media /marketing content) to create the on-line presence

Quarry Bank Mill, National Trust

Exhibitions Team

The placement project will involve an opportunity to develop an exhibition on the theme of ‘The People in our Gardens’, looking at historical and contemporary personalities and their relationship to the green spaces at Quarry Bank. The project will involve working to a brief to develop exhibition plans and content, as well as gaining experience in supporting areas such as collections and research, evaluation and marketing (depending on interests). Training will be provided on elements such as taking oral histories, using collections and archives for research, presenting objects for display and interpretive techniques. The placement students will work on a project team with core members of Quarry Bank staff under the direction of the Learning & interpretation and the Collections Managers.

The Tabley House Collection, University of Manchester

Documentation Assistant

Working directly with objects within the collection the Documentation Assistant would provide preventative conservation and improved documentation for items in the collection that are currently in storage. Many items in the collection have limited detail listed on the collections database and are awaiting a full inventory before any further curatorial work can be done with them. The student role would involve unpacking, re-storing objects and creating new records or amending existing records, clearly labelling any boxes, photograph the contents, provide a condition check and attach the accession numbers and locations to the outside of the box. The student will also be required to update the collections database. Where appropriate there is also an opportunity to research certain objects in the collection for exhibition interpretation.

The Textile Restoration Studio

Assistant - Atkinson Museum Exhibition

This placement involves in assisting in the textile conservation and preparation for display, a varied collection of 11 outfits dating from 1850 to1940, for exhibition in Spring 2016 at the Atkinson Museum, Southport. It also provides the opportunity of handling and studying a variety of costumes in detail. All were made by seamstresses in Southport. The museum would be able to provide additional information for further study, if required.

Two by Two, Sale

Exhibition Curator

We are organising an exhibition celebrating the work of George Mottershead (OBE) 1894-1978, the founder of Chester Zoo.
This exhibition will raise the profile of this local un-sung hero and his pioneering work in the development of Chester Zoo.
The placement will include:

  • Managing relationships with Mr Cogswell and Chester Zoo representatives to ensure the safe handling and management of the archive materials on loan to Two by Two
  • Liaising with the Local Studies section of Sale Library for relevant materials they may wish to contribute.
  • Creating an exhibition design/plan for displaying the collection in a way that makes the content accessible and engaging to the general public, targeting the multi-generational market.
  • Involvement in the Two by Two budget planning and reporting function
  • Contributing to the building of constructive relationships with Waterside Arts Centre staff and the Community Groups involved in Sale Festival (an event running parallel to the Mottershead Exhibition)

University History and Heritage, University of Manchester

University Collections Project Assistant

This opportunity is to work on the University’s collections of art and artefacts that sit outside the Library and Cultural Institutions. Many objects in the central collection, which consists art and artefacts relating to the University’s corporate history are on display in our key buildings. Other discrete collections are in storage and relate to key developments in the University’s past such as those relating to medicine and computing. The task in this placement is to provide accessible information about the collections and public information about individual objects. This maybe through both web-based and physical displays. This is an exciting opportunity for a student to work on a rapidly expanding programme of heritage and public history projects. It will be particularly suitable for students wishing to gain a better practical understanding of exhibitions and collections management.

The Whitworth

Engagement assistant (Thursday Lates)

Working closing with the Engagement Manager, this role will support and  coordinate the Whitworth’s popular Thursday Lates programme. Weekly, social, late openings that see the exhibitions and spaces animated by talks, performances, tours, workshops and artist interventions. Working with departments across the gallery, the Engagement Assistant will help coordinate new artist proposals, marketing of upcoming events and working with volunteers, facilitate evaluation and feedback with visitors.

Student experiences