Art Fund curatorial trainees: December update

Eloise Donnelly and Helen Hillyard
Art Fund curatorial trainees

Eloise Donnelly and Helen Hillyard write about their first three months as Art Fund's curatorial trainees.

Eloise Donnelly, curatorial trainee Photo © the National Gallery, London

Eloise Donnelly, curatorial trainee


Photo © the National Gallery, London

Eloise Donnelly has been working with the National Gallery and York Art Gallery

The first three months of my traineeship have flown by and I’ve already learned a huge amount from the experience. From assisting with early-morning re-hangs and observing the scientific analysis of paintings, to giving afternoon talks in the galleries and attending evening tours of the current Vienna exhibition, each day has been incredibly varied and it’s been fantastic to develop my curatorial skills within such a rich and unique collection.

My project involves researching the Lycett Green collection of Old Masters at York Art Gallery in preparation for the Gallery’s reopening in 2015 following a major refurbishment. At the end of September I travelled up to York to meet the team and have a look around the recently emptied gallery space. The newly discovered raised ceiling was completely exposed and it was really exciting to imagine how the new galleries will look in two years’ time! I’ve already started delving into the archives and am looking forward to uncovering more about the collection’s fascinating history as my research develops over the next few months.

In addition to this project I’ve also been involved in the forthcoming Strange Beauty exhibition, which will examine German Renaissance art in the context of the National Gallery collection. This experience has really enhanced my practical skills for writing interpretative text and thinking about the different elements involved in the design and installation, and I can’t wait to see the results when the exhibition opens in February.

Helen Hillyard, curatorial trainee Photo © the National Gallery, London

Helen Hillyard, curatorial trainee


Photo © the National Gallery, London

Helen Hillyard has been working with the National Gallery and Birmingham Museums Trust

My first three months at the National Gallery have been a fantastic whirlwind, as I try to learn and prepare as much as possible before I go to Birmingham in March.

My project with Birmingham Museums Trust focuses on the research and re-hang of their 17th-century galleries, as well as exploring new ways for visitors to engage with the works. The collection itself is outstanding, including the only autograph work by Orazio Gentileschi in a public collection in the UK, and I feel so lucky to be able to spend time researching it. I am also having Italian lessons at the National Gallery, which is helping me access new information on the paintings.

Alongside my research, I am working on the exhibition Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance; writing exhibition labels, creating a timeline, going to design meetings and seeing everything that goes into staging a major exhibition.

I have also started giving public talks at the National Gallery, something which I am really passionate about and which is also helping me to learn more about the collection, as many of the talks are on paintings I haven’t studied before!

I have lots to do before I leave the National Gallery and am excited to discover more about my paintings, developing the connections between works that will ultimately help shape their display.

Venue details

National Gallery Trafalgar Square Greater London WC2N 5DN 020 7747 2885

Entry details

50% off with National Art Pass

Daily, 10am 6pm (Fri, 10am 9pm) Closed 24 25 Dec and 1 Jan

Tags: Museums and galleriescuratorial-trainee-blog