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The now quiet space of National Museum Cardiff’s contemporary art galleries has most recently played host to the Museum’s first full-scale series of photographic exhibitions. The artwork displayed comprised part of the museum’s first ‘Photography Season’, presenting work by four photographers: August Sander (1876–1964), Bernd (1931–2007) and Hilla Becher (1934–2015), and Martin Parr (b. 1952). While Parr’s exhibition sat opposite the contemporary art galleries in the Museum’s designated photography gallery, Bernd and Hilla Becher: Industrial Visions was shown on the upper level of the contemporary spaces. The Bechers’ work was thematically linked to that presented downstairs, ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander (October 2019-March 2020).

For myself and two other fabulous volunteers, March marked the end of a three-month exhibition evaluation placement as part of the ARTIST ROOMS programme within Sander’s portrait photography exhibition space. I would like to briefly expand upon the role that I undertook in this two-part blog and highlight the value of the process of collecting and collating exhibition evaluation feedback.

It is valuable to give a few details of the photographer August Sander (1876–1964). Sander was a German-born photographer and in 1911 began the first series of portraits for his seminal work People of the 20th Century. ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander presented over eighty photographs – produced as part of this project – which classify individuals according to profession and social class. The portraits are placed on long-term loan to ARTIST ROOMS, a UK-wide programme jointly delivered by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. The ARTISTS ROOMS programme’s aim is to show the work of each of the 40 artists it represents in dedicated solo exhibitions across the UK. Through ARTIST ROOMS important works of art can be widely seen by visitors and, importantly, it also gives young people the opportunity to get involved in creative projects, learn more about art and artists, and develop new skills.

My role, as one of the three exhibition evaluation placements, was to allow visitors to ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander a chance to fill in an online survey on one of two iPads lent to the museum by ARTIST ROOMS for its duration. The survey asked the visitor a multitude of questions about their experience of the exhibition. It also asked some statistical questions, which could be omitted or simply passed back to us to reset.

Additionally, we chatted to visitors in the exhibition space, including those who wanted to discuss the exhibition informally with us. As the weekends always tend to draw in a diverse and greater number of visitors, at least one of us tried to come on Saturdays for a few hours to do the surveys, as well as undertake at least one shift during the week, sometimes in a pair, occasionally all together and at other times singly.

The second part of the blog expands upon my reasons for wishing to undertake this placement and the importance of exhibition evaluation.

Dr Rosanna Harrison

Staff Pwll: Canolfan Ddarganfod Clore

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