Collections and Curating Practices MScR students staged exhibitions in partnership with the National Library of Scotland and the Travelling Gallery in February and March.

Students Aija Cave, Meg Dolan, Amy Trantum, Rada Kuznetsova and Melanie Magolan have collaborated with the National Library of Scotland (NLS) presenting Who Taught Her That?, opening on the 6th of March 2020. 

Coinciding with Women’s History Month, they consider how advice received by women can be shared through new media and technologies, creating an interactive exhibit and conversation space.

In September 2019, as part of their Guided Research project, students were invited to explore and respond to issues that NLS and University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collection wanted them to solve. 

Rada Kuznetsova explains: “The main question posed by the National Library was how to display something Born Digital (i.e. material that has been created as a digital resource rather than digitised after creation) as part of a public exhibition. In search of a solution, the library invited us to approach the display of their collections from a digital perspective.

"Our exhibition will celebrate women’s contributions to the library’s collection, the ways in which the digital age has transformed the manner in which women express themselves, and how audiences can engage with this material.”

Aija Cave continues: “One of our main goals is to inspire visitors’ participation at the exhibition, which we have designed to appeal to every person who identifies as a woman from across all generations and backgrounds.

"To make the space as welcoming and inclusive as possible, we will have a live feed of advice contributed via Twitter by guests, a creative writing workshop facilitated by poet Marjorie Lotfi Gill, and a Conversation Corner where visitors can engage with inspiring women guest speakers. We hope to encourage people to react to the objects on display and create discussions about them.”

Photograph of the Who Taught Her That team
Photo: Stewart Hardy
The Who Taught Her That? team. L-R Aija, Meg, Amy, Rada and Melanie.

""We have learned a great deal about what it takes to create an exhibit from top to bottom, including some of the challenges that come from working within the parameters set by a major collecting institution. This experience has given us valuable knowledge for our future careers around issues of conservation, social engagement, authenticity, and the use of digital technologies in exhibition display.""

Who Taught Her That? curators

Dr Kirsten Lloyd, MSc by Research Collections and Curating Practices Programme Director says: “The Guided Research Placement is at the heart of the MScR in Collections and Curating Practices, offering our students unique opportunities to draw together theory and practice while expanding their professional networks. The placement briefs are developed in close cooperation with our partners to identify a problem or issue currently faced by the institution. Small groups of students are given the autonomy to realise a project in response which helps to drive new thinking and propose concrete solutions.

It’s a fantastic example of what we call 'experiential learning' which passes well beyond traditional internship models: students are supported to test ideas in the real world and to reflect critically on their processes and outcomes. Our aim is to offer a rigorous preparation for a career in the museums, galleries and heritage sectors by helping our students to develop their skills, confidence and networks.”

Situated: Place, Art, Collection

In early February students Barbora Kramlova, Clare Sully-Stendahl, Despina Petridou and Morgan Owen worked with the Travelling Gallery and the University Art Collection, to create an exhibition about art collections and place. The University of Edinburgh’s Art Collection holds over 8,000 artworks collected over 400 years but does not have a permanent exhibition space in which to show them.

Over the two weeks, Situated visited various sites around Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian transporting the artworks along with aspects of their environment, offering visitors a unique opportunity to see behind the scenes of a major Scottish art collection. Situated mainly responds to ideas of place, space, and land through different artworks, providing a sense of the breadth of artistic styles and practices housed by the collection. The display of artworks within the exhibition provoke the viewer to ask: How does art create a sense of place? Where do we normally see art? And what is the role of an art collection?

Installation of the exhibition in The Travelling Gallery
Photo Credit: Despina Petridou
Installation of the exhibition in The Travelling Gallery
A photograph of The Travelling Gallery outside of the Ratho Library
Photo Credit: Barbora Kramlova
The Travelling Gallery visited Ratho Library, one of the exhibition tour stops

Reflecting on the experience, Despina says: “It was certainly a very exciting and challenging process curating this exhibition as a team. It has been a very rewarding project for us, as we got the chance to show these artworks to a diverse and wide audience, by embracing the unique nature of the Travelling Gallery while bringing to light the University’s Art Collection. Through discussions with the exhibition visitors we got very positive responses and reactions and this makes us all very satisfied with the result.”

Who Taught Her that? opens Friday 6th March running till Monday 9th March at the National Library of Scotland. In preparation for the event, join the conversation and share advice you have received – both good and bad – on social media using ‘#WhoTaughtHerThat’.


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