STEP participant, Christine talks us through her job at the V&A Museum and how she helped deliver a V&A Friday Late Event

During my placement at V&A East I was given the opportunity to work with a number of different departments within the museum including the learning, interpretation and curatorial teams.

One of the most exciting projects that I got to assist with was the monthly V&A Friday Late, which sits within the remit of the Contemporary Architecture, Design and Digital team.

The Friday Late offers an excellent opportunity for the V&A audiences to interact more casually and intimately with museum displays and exhibitions, so I was extremely excited to be helping organise their February event.

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Research

The first step in planning is the research stage. The theme for the V&A Late I was helping work on was: The Eyes Have It.

It was part of a larger ongoing programme on the human body, and each month the Late event was themed around a different body part.

The research stage involved two main tasks:

  1. Collating interesting articles, essays and other writing-related to The Eyes in order to get a sense of the different creative directions the theme could take. These ranged from very literal interpretations (i.e. vision) to more lateral ideas and concepts such as surveillance, aesthetics and consumerism.
  2. The second part involved doing more broad research into artists, collectives and performers who might have something interesting to bring to the Late event.

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Curation and production

Once the team had an idea of the direction of the theme, it was time to enter the curation and production stage. This is the longest and most complicated of all the planning stages because it involves liaising with many different people and teams in order for the Late to come together. It requires seamless communication and logistical work. The key tasks in this stage include:

  • Reaching out to all the artists and performers who we want to contribute to the Late and discuss their ideas for the night, the equipment and space it would require, their artist fees and more

  • Organising which activities are going to be taking place where and making sure there are smooth transitions between all the scheduled performances and talks

  • Meeting with V&A security and maintenance teams to do a risk assessment, discuss health and safety, security measures, fire exit plans and more

  • Liaising with external organisations, such as London Audio Visual, who provide electrical support on the night and help set up a lot of the installations and artworks

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Delivery

The day of the event was packed with back to back briefing meetings, equipment delivery, electrical set-up, and coordinating with the performers. Once the event began at 6:30pm things slowed down a bit, and my main duties were to answer visitor queries, take feedback from guests and help out the artists at their stations.

By the time the event ended at 10:45pm I couldn’t believe how fast the night had gone. The Late team are always the last to leave, making sure all the guests and performers have safely exited and the museum is left in good condition. It was so satisfying to experience the outcome of the month’s worth of work and planning. The whole experience was a steep learning curve – I gained so many new skills and it really broadened my understanding on the accessibilities of museums.

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