The Scottish art gallery experience

March 20, 1998

The academic's view:

Edinburgh University history of art department marries the academic to the vocational in a scheme offered since 1992. History of art students in their penultimate year have the chance to work two days a week in a gallery or museum. Organiser Patsy Campbell, lecturer in fine art at Edinburgh, says:

"Work placements can be more academically illuminating than a series of lectures. In an art gallery practical involvementwith the paintings gives the students a better chance to lookat works of art and build upa more intimate academicknowledge."

The employer's view:

Vivien Hamilton, curator of art for Glasgow Museums, takes many students on work placements: "Students are often guilty of not checking sources, because they are used to having all their information provided for them. For instance students can learn about an artist or a painting from examining the frame or the label on the back which can provide otherwise unknown information about the painting's provenance. Work placements teach students to break down assumptions and develop research skills."

On the negative side: "There is a lot of input from us and we don't necessarily get it back."

The student's view:

Melissa Jenkins, history of art student at Edinburgh University, worked two days a week for one term at the Open Eye Gallery. "I was working in a commercial gallery which has a fast turnover - exhibitions change every three weeks. I enjoyed working on the commercial side but it was not at all academic."

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