Museums & Galleries Qld

Kellee Uhr blogs from Week 2 of her mentorship

Posted on: 7 October 2013

Labassa Mansion

Labassa Mansion

Riding Jacket, National Trust (Victoria) Costume Collection

Riding Jacket, National Trust (Victoria) Costume Collection

The second week of my mentorship at the National Trust (Victoria) took of where I left it – in amongst archive boxes and garment racks filled with historic undergarments at the home of the Trust’s Costume Collection, Labassa Mansion.

My mentor, Lizzie Anya-Petrivna and I had been in contact since my last week discussing the real possibility of this mentorship (and the research undertaken) becoming an exhibition. This meant that we were really focused on getting a shortlist together of garments that would fit a series of curatorial themes that we had been playing with via email since July. Day one and day two was all about sorting collection items into these themes and pulling items into ‘yes, no, maybe’ groups. This process also evidenced the extent undergarments in the Trust’s collection, something that we had thought may be one of the largest in the country.

After this process was undertaken we looked at ‘holes’ in the shortlist. What key items are we missing? What items need to be included in the final exhibition, regardless of their presence in this particular archive? This led Lizzie and I on a day of field trips and collection research at other collecting institutions, namely Melbourne Museum and National Gallery of Victoria. Visiting these venues gave me a better understanding of collecting policies and trends within institutions and highlighted the importance of research collections as opposed to collections that are primarily developed for exhibition purposes and the differences in an institutions reasons for acquiring specific items. It also allowed me to make connections with key dress historians, academics, and museum and gallery professionals as well as being immersed amongst passionate people who are extremely excited about getting items out of storage and having a look themselves (any excuse to get away from the computer and amongst objects!).

My final two days are developing an exhibition brief and an ongoing work program so that our exhibition can start to be fully realised. As always, I approach exhibition development with installation in mind so it is great that Lizzie works the same way. As the venue for this exhibition will be one the Trust’s historic houses, Lizzie provides me with heaps of advice and ideas for working in these spaces that are not autonomous and come with stories attached to them and the people that have resided in them. This will inform the exhibition’s curatorial development and interpretation method used.

It has been a great opportunity to work with the Trust and especially Lizzie who has really inspired me to continue along this career path. I have always seen curatorial research and exhibition development as a creative practice and working with Lizzie has only solidified this for me. Her approach to every exhibition she has worked on is as a ‘creative project’ that still honours history, people and place. The importance of conveying stories through historic objects, in particular dress and garments, has always excited me and the convergence of historic spaces and art spaces will continue to be what drives my career.

M&GSQ’s 2013 Mentorship, Exchange and Fellowship Program is funded by Arts Queensland through the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF). RADF is a joint Queensland Government and Local Government partnership to support local arts and culture.

See M&GSQ’s website, www.magsq.com.au for more information about the Mentorship, Exchange and Fellowship Program.

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Museums & Galleries Queensland

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Web: www.magsq.com.au

Museums & Galleries Queensland is the peak professional body for the public museum and gallery sector in Queensland.

Museums & Galleries Queensland promotes, supports and provides services to foster excellence in museums, galleries and keeping places. We strive to ensure a future where museums, galleries and keeping places are relevant, accessible and valued by their communities.

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