An amazing encounter with Auckland Art Gallery – some notes from a Chinese registrar
I have been working for the Gallery as an intern as part of the Art and Management Professional and Talent International Exchange Program which was made possible through China International Culture Association. I did not realise how quickly three months would pass when I first landed New Zealand on 15 June. It has been such a rewarding experience which will always remain in my memory.
Dedicated staff and welcoming environment
Back in China, I work for National Art Museum of China in Beijing specialising in the daily management and research of a wide range of collections, which was the focus of my internship at the Gallery. Before I had even arrived in New Zealand, the coordinators demonstrated their professionalism, dedication and, mostly importantly, their kind willingness to help. They had a made a detailed plan and my work at the Gallery was well conducted and followed the plan.
I am especially grateful to Catherine Lomas, Head of the Collection Services, who arranged a number of events to help me understand the overall management and functions of the Gallery in terms of its exhibitions, education programmes, research library, and the other services it offers as a public institution. I was invited to attend staff meetings and quiz night, which made me feel welcome and part of the team. In particular, I was impressed by the transparency, equality and mutual trust that has developed within the Gallery. I felt a strong sense of belonging and experienced the way this supports the Gallery to work.
Learning by doing
I attended a number of training sessions delivered by Gallery conservators working on the conservation of collections of different materials and formats. I was part of the team working on the print room inventory project, sorting out 3,800 print artworks. We audited these records in the Vernon database. Together with colleagues, I partook in the transportation of works to off-site storage spaces.
To be a good registrar and conservator it is important to ‘get your hands dirty’. I was lucky enough to get hands-on experiences of installation and de-installation of several exhibitions curated and organised by the Gallery, for example, Love, Longing, Loss, and The Body Laid Bare: Masterpieces from Tate. In terms of research, I also got the opportunity to familiarise myself with how conservators draft condition reports and how the Gallery deals with copyright royalties and long-term loans, which allowed me to compare and contrast different practices in our countries.
Learn from the best practices