Internships at Two Temple Place: Tanaya Basu De Sarkar, Exhibition Assistant

Two Temple Place offers a number of internship opportunities each year. Tanaya Basu De Sarkar took up one of those internships in 2018 working as our Exhibition Assistant. This position offers experience and insight into how exhibitions are organised, delivered and managed while open in a small but busy exhibition space. Tanaya talks through her time at Two Temple Place:

"I was the Exhibition Assistant Intern at Two Temple Place from November 2018 to May 2019, working on their exhibition, ‘John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing’. Six months seems like a short period of time, but with the exhibition opening in late January, I hit the ground running fast. By the end of my first month, I was already quite in love with the neo-gothic mansion, and completely immersed in working on the upcoming exhibition.

A very distracting colleague named Brian

After familiarising myself with the object lists, and each of the lenders, I began to identify what further information we needed; what the travel and display requirements were for the objects, and details about photography permissions and credit lines, etc. I also inventoried the installation materials and display cases. Having all these details ironed out helped to make sure that installing the exhibition was a smooth process. Most of my work however was in liaising with lenders and helping to arrange transport for the objects which were travelling from across the UK to London.

There were also other pre-exhibition tasks, like helping to proof-read the catalogue, as well sourcing images for use, and going paint sample shopping for the exhibition’s walls. The Exhibition team at Two Temple Place is small, so there was always something to do. On one occasion this included spending a whole day hand-writing the Private View invitations together, accompanied by plenty of snacks and Christmas music!

The build underway in January

Helping to oversee the installation of the exhibition was unchartered territory for me, and I was fairly nervous about the prospect of using my practical skills, haunted by the memory of once attempting to assemble an Ikea bed, only to end up breaking it. Thankfully, it all went smoothly; there were no Ikea beds, only works of art which were installed by a brilliant team of technicians, to whom I could offer my spare pair of hands. 

Installing a lampshade made by Timorous Beasties

The two weeks of installation went by in a blur, but I will never forget the herculean effort required to get J.W Bunney’s painting, ‘Western Face of the Basilica of San Marco, Venice’ (fondly known to us as “The Bunney”), into the building. It’s a colossal 144.7 x 226 cm, and needed all hands on deck within a mile radius to manoeuvre it up the stairs.
Installing 'The Bunney"

Once the exhibition opened, my role changed to duty-managing and helping to supervise an amazing team of volunteers. I loved duty-managing, as I was able to interact with the public and talk to them about the exhibition. Moreover, I loved working with the volunteers, who were great fun to get to know, and always blew me away how much they knew about Two Temple Place. I also continued to monitor the Integrated Pest Management, and the relative humidity and temperature during this time.

When I started at Two Temple Place I had just completed my MA in History of Art, and before that, a year-long traineeship focused on collections management. I had never worked on an exhibition like this before, and certainly had no experience with installation. My role was very varied, and consequently I was able gain a lot of confidence, and learn a lot - much of which has been invaluable to my current job as an Assistant Registrar at the Museum of London, where my role again involves organising loans. I had a great experience, and would recommend the internship to anyone looking to gain a really varied experience working in the heritage sector."


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