Curatorial trainees: January update

Lucy West and Sylvie Broussine are our current Art Fund curatorial trainees at the National Gallery, and are also working with regional partners Ferens Art Gallery and Auckland Castle. Here, they share an update about their work so far.

Lucy West – Ferens Art Gallery
Lucy West, curatorial trainee Photo © the National Gallery, London

Lucy West, curatorial trainee


Photo © the National Gallery, London

The past three months have been a whirlwind of learning: from navigating my way around the labyrinth of the National Gallery in the first few weeks, to beginning my research on the beautiful panel by Pietro Lorenzetti, which has been recently acquired by the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull [with help from the Art Fund].

I have been enjoying an exciting training programme which has introduced me to the network of departments at the National Gallery. Highlights have included doing ‘frame walks’ around the collection with the head of framing, exploring how to write the perfect wall label in the curatorial department, and examining paintings under the microscope in conservation.

Everything I have learnt so far is being brought together in the work I am doing within the curatorial department. This has included conducting provenance research, giving ‘ten-minute talks’, and writing labels and website text for three paintings on loan from the Ferens Art Gallery. It was very exciting to watch the Ferens paintings being hung upstairs among the National Gallery’s collection – my first glimpse of some of the paintings which I will be working with in Hull.

Alongside my work at the National Gallery, I began my research into the Ferens Art Gallery collection. This predominantly centres around a group of 20 paintings and one sculpture from their permanent collection of early religious works, notably including the Pietro Lorenzetti panel depicting Christ with Saints Peter and Paul, which is currently undergoing conservation at the National Gallery. It has been fascinating to get up close to the panel in the conservation department and hear about the latest findings from the experts.

In mid-November, I spent a day at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull. It was exciting to see the gallery for the first time, to meet the team and investigate their archive material on the permanent collection. While the artworks themselves are currently in storage as the gallery undergoes a major refurbishment, it was great to see the spaces as a blank canvas. With so many exciting things happening in both Hull and London, I am looking forward to seeing where the coming months take me.

Sylvie Broussine – Auckland Castle
Sylvie Broussine, curatorial trainee Photo © the National Gallery, London

Sylvie Broussine, curatorial trainee


Photo © the National Gallery, London

Looking back on my first three months as a curatorial trainee, it’s fantastic to realise just how much I have already done during my time at the National Gallery. I am developing skills, knowledge and experience in curatorial practice through a combination of research, training, and activities such as label writing and provenance checking.

The first couple of weeks were spent familiarising myself with the upcoming project at Auckland Castle, and particularly with the paintings I will be working with over the next 22 months. This included a trip to County Durham to look through the archive files and meet the Auckland Castle team. I left County Durham feeling excited about working with its collection.

Alongside my work with Auckland Castle I have also enjoyed a diverse and valuable training programme at the National Gallery. This included spending time with various departments in the gallery and particularly, of course, with the curatorial team. After numerous training sessions I have begun to carry out curatorial activities such as presenting ten-minute talks, writing website texts and producing display labels.

I have also taken advantage of the wealth of collections accessible in London, including the paintings and exhibitions at the National Gallery, such as Goya: The Portraits. I have benefited greatly from the lectures, seminars and study days that have accompanied this exhibition, which have provided an excellent platform for engaging with Spanish painting.

Soon I will take a second trip to County Durham in order to spend more time with the collection and to continue working in the archive. This will be a fantastic opportunity to build on my research into the paintings at Auckland Castle.

Since 2011 we’ve been working with the National Gallery and regional partners to offer two fully funded curatorial traineeships specialising in Old Master painting, with the support of the Vivmar Foundation.

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 26 Dec and 1 Jan

Tags: curatorial-trainee-blogSupporting museums