My placement involved the research and interpretation of the collection of portraits at Lodge Park, National Trust; the ultimate purpose was to bring the picture display to life and to enhance our visitors’ experience. A day was spent examining the object files at the National Trust’s London area office, and a further two at the National Portrait Gallery Heinz Archive & Library, where I met relevant curators and interpretation staff. While at the Gallery, I had the opportunity to attend a couple of educational workshops, both focusing on Tudor portraits, which provided helpful ideas in terms of the learning programme at Lodge Park.

In order to find out how the National Portrait Gallery works with the National Trust, I visited Montacute House in Somerset. I found the NPG portrait collection displayed in the house, the Long Gallery and the adjoining rooms very well presented, with a wide variety of information and interpretation tools. This visit was helpful in forming an understanding of how various display and interpretation techniques can be used both in the gallery spaces and in the historic house environment. My research also took me to Gloucestershire County Records Office where several interesting documents in the Dutton Archive were discovered. Personally the placement was a great opportunity to expand my research skills and gain more experience in the curatorial field of work. I have greatly enjoyed meeting curators, their assistants, interpretation and education officers at the NPG and the National Trust in London. I have rediscovered the pleasure of working in the archives and researching family histories, artists and their works.

The placement was also helpful in developing relationships with the organisations and places I visited. By sharing my experiences with National Trust volunteers and staff, I hope to both provide them with ideas for research and interpretation practice, and make them aware of the excellent resources and possibilities available through the NPG, libraries and archives, and the Understanding British Portraits placement scheme. I regard the placement as a pilot project that has given a good start and great ideas for further research of portraits and development of their interpretation at Lodge Park.