- Keegan Thomson
A day in the life of... A gallery director
WHILST wandering around a gallery it is easy to forget how much blood, sweat and tears go into the preparation and maintenance of a museum, but according to Dr Lee- Anne Hall, the director of the Penrith Regional Gallery, it about the team work and variety.
“It is a very broad job and I work with a big team of people,” Dr Hall said. “The kinds of things I do here include, maintaining the gallery site, the heritage gardens and curating exhibitions. We have an education program that is attached to it all that I oversee and I should also say we have four exhibition spaces which are all thematic, so I manage those as well.
“Museums and galleries are constantly evolving places with new exhibitions coming in and old ones going out and with this ever changing environment each day can be dramatically different to the next,” Dr Hall added.
“Everyday is different, and this job has periods of heightened activity, and that will generally be around installation weeks,” she said. “When we’re installing usually you’re flat-chat getting everything in and organised, and then there is all the promotional work that comes along with it as well.”
Even when an exhibition is in place, she said the job is very dynamic with not much time to stop. “Some days I might have a few talks to give, I might have some reports to write, there are always millions of emails to reply to and there are always meetings to attend with teams, artists, external boards and individuals,” she said. “Quite often I’ll eat my lunch at my desk just so I can follow up on a few emails.”
According to Dr Hall, one important skill to have as director of a gallery is the ability of foresight.
“We are always looking forward to what shows are coming up next and what shows will be on in the future,” she said. “At the moment we have exhibitions booked at least two years into the future, with some of our big ones involving a lot of planning and preparation, so it is important to constantly be looking forward.”
Above all the things she does in her job, one of the things Dr Hall enjoys the most is the interactions and exhibitions she does with local and international artists.
“Maybe my favourite part is curatorial, and working with artists,” she said. “We work with many artists here, and most of the artists here being alive and involved in their artwork all of the time.
“Working with artists is really pleasurable because you’re involved with people who are always thinking, who are really deeply engaged with ideas and who are masters of their craft,” she said.
According to Dr Hall the increasing professionalisation of the gallery and museum industry has made it hard for up-and-comers to get into the industry without tertiary education credentials, but she said there is always room for volunteers.
“People can get into the industry through volunteering,” she said. “There are still plenty of jobs in different aspects of this industry particularly in education, all it takes is a little persistence.”
With the constant involvement with the public, artists and employees, the role of a museum director is one that involves plenty of passion for the arts and for people.