Helen Thornton – Cartwright Hall

In our blog series, we aim to give an insight into the many different aspects of the Museum and Galleries service.  It might be a curator talking about a collection, a conservator talking about a specific project they’ve been working on  – or in this case, our Museums Manager Central Helen Thornton agreed to write about her experiences this year at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery.

She writes:

In March I was seconded to work at Cartwright Hall from my role as Saltaire World Heritage Site Officer.

I’d worked in the Heritage Conservation Department of Bradford Council for 4 years, but before that I managed Leeds City Art Gallery. So I thought I knew what I was in for at Cartwright!

Cartwright Hall is having an exciting and busy year. In March we opened a temporary exhibition “Splendours of the Sub Continent: A Prince’s Tour 1975-6” working with the Royal Collection Trust from Buckingham Palace. This show was incredibly popular attracting 30,000 visitors.

As Gallery Manager my role was to work with the curator of the show to make sure we had everything in place for the installation and de-installation. During the show I worked with our Museum Assistant team at the front of house to provide an excellent customer experience.

As soon as “Splendours” came down we were straight into planning for two new permanent galleries – one covering “100 Years of Bradford Painters” and of course, the new “David Hockney Gallery”.


The Hockney Birthday Party event
The Hockney Birthday Party event

We knew the David Hockney Gallery was going to be a big deal for the whole of Bradford and we had lots of press coverage. A huge Birthday Party event was held 2 days after the Gallery was opened to celebrate David Hockney’s 80th. So I got involved in a very diverse range of activities from organising Vintage Buses, Birthday Cake and Dachshund shaped balloons!

A lifesized likeness of David Hockney – in cake!
A lifesized likeness of David Hockney – in cake!
Over 1,000 slices of cake were given out free to visitors to Cartwright Hall and Lister Park
Over 1,000 slices of cake were given out free to visitors to Cartwright Hall and Lister Park

We also re-located our Reception Desk to a much friendlier location and improved the appearance of our historic Gallery interiors.

As well as getting involved with exhibitions and events, the Manager’s role is to ensure toilets are clean, staff are well trained and supported, health and safety rules are followed, marketing is done, budgets are well managed and fundraising is done for that next exciting project!

I think that is what I love about working here – the variety, the challenge and the contact with visitors who come to see our shows.

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