The Hepworth Wakefield Partnership Studentship

The Hepworth Wakefield (Photographer: Iwan Baan; image courtesy of The Hepworth Wakefield)

The Hepworth Wakefield Partnership Studentship will provide the successful applicant with a stipend of £1500, and an opportunity to undertake a volunteer placement at the gallery.  Open to all full-time and second year part-time Home/EU and Overseas students, this studentship will be of particular interest to students on the Modern and Contemporary Art pathway. 

The Hepworth Wakefield:

About The Hepworth Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield opened in May 2011 and since then has welcomed over 1.3 million visitors. Designed by award-winning architect Sir David Chipperfield, it has been described as 'one of the Top 50 art galleries in the world' by The Times and has firmly established itself as a must-see destination for world-class exhibitions and collection displays. It is a registered charity that is funded primarily by Wakefield Council and by Arts Council England as one of its National Portfolio Organisations. The gallery is part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle and works in partnership with national organisations including Tate. In August 2013 it opened a new contemporary exhibition and performance space, The Calder, on the ground floor of a brick warehouse adjacent to Chipperfield’s building.

The Collection and Exhibitions Programme

The gallery celebrates the life and work of Barbara Hepworth who was born and grew up in Wakefield. The catalyst for the new gallery was the Hepworth Family Gift, a unique collection of Hepworth’s working models made mostly in plaster that was gifted to Wakefield by her family. It also displays and cares for the Wakefield Permanent Art Collection which consists of over 5,000 works and has a nucleus of Modern British art including work by Henry Moore who was born in Castleford, also part of the Wakefield district. As such, the gallery is in a unique position to explore 20th-century sculptural practice and its legacy through the collection and exhibitions programme.

The partnership

The partnership

The partnership student will support the research, development and delivery of a major exhibition, as well as undertaking general administrative and collections management work. The successful applicant will be expected to work three days a week throughout the months of May and June in preparation for the opening of the exhibition in June 2019, and will be granted a stipend of £1500 out of which all travel expenses should be met. The placement will be timed to take place after the end of the taught component of the MA programme and before dissertation research begins in earnest.  


  • Researching objects included in the exhibition and preparing a short description or précis of each as a resource for gallery staff and visitors with potential uses including learning and interpretation, online resources, or internal training
  • Presenting research to the Collection & Exhibitions, Learning, Visitor Services and wider teams
  • Assisting with the development and provision of interpretation and learning resources related to the exhibition
  • Assisting with the organization, planning and delivery of the exhibition
  • Assisting with the organisation, programming and delivery (where appropriate within the timeframe) of a series of public events to run alongside the exhibition
  • Working with the Assistant Curators on the development of collection displays, and the general management of the collection

The team

The partnership student will become part of the Programme team, which includes  Collections & Exhibitions, Learning and Public Programmes. However, they will also meet staff from other departments, such as Development, Marketing & Communications and the wider curatorial community through our partnership working with lenders to the exhibition. The student will gain experience in exhibition administration, planning and delivery, including using databases and writing and developing interpretive material for public displays. These transferable skills would be of benefit to students wanting to pursue careers in museums and galleries or in other arts professions.

The student view

The student view

Maddie Boden, previous recipient of The Hepworth Wakefield Partnership Studentship, found her placement at The Hepworth Wakefield gave her valuable practical experience of working in a museum, which she feels has enhanced her job prospects.

What are you currently working on?

"My main project has been working on the museum’s upcoming exhibition about the historical role of the plaster cast. This has included a lot research about plaster’s significance to sculptural practice at different periods of history, looking at The Hepworth Gift which is a group of plasters that make up the main collection of the museum and how plaster is used by contemporary practitioners. I’ve undertaken archival research at The Hepworth and the Royal Academy and been able to put some of my research into labels which will appear alongside pieces in the exhibition.

Another project I’ve been working on which has been a source of great interest and discovery has been compiling the Hepworth-Nicholson family tree. It’s required in-depth primary source research including looking through public records and genealogy tables, but I’ve really enjoyed discovering more about the Hepworth family."

What experiences would you say have been most useful or unexpected?

"The most useful experience during the partnership is seeing how a museum operates in its very early stages. The Hepworth only opened in 2011 and so I’ve had the chance to work very closely with the curatorial team who are shaping the vision and the direction of the museum for the next decade."

Who do you work with and how does the institution make use of you?

"I work mainly with the curatorial team, which is made up of 5 curators, but also with the education department who plans most of the museum’s public events and learning programmes.

I hope I’ve been useful to the team by being able to undertake research that they wouldn’t otherwise have time to do. My contributions have helped to shape the upcoming plasters exhibition and take it in new directions. I’m also able to help in more practical ways like liaising between the History of Art department and the museum and taking minutes during important meetings."

What do you value most about your experience with the institution?

"It has really helped me understand what it is like to work in a museum and that it means a whole lot more than just being a really good art historian. The relationships that the curators have with artists, other museums, and universities are vital to the museum’s success and one of the most useful things I’ve learned is how to foster those important contacts. A placement away from York has also been an opportunity to get some variety into the work I’m doing during my MA year."

How has your work with The Hepworth Wakefield enhanced your studies at York?

"Learning more about Barbara Hepworth and modernist sculpture has complimented my wider interests in sculptural studies. I’ve also been exposed to several contemporary artists such as Toby Ziegler and Lynda Bengalis who I hadn’t previously had a chance to look at in much depth before."

Do you feel it has been helpful with career planning or improved your job prospects, and if yes, how?

"I’ve already been able to use this placement as evidence of my experience in several applications, mainly as I’ve been applying for my PhD. This work has been great in helping me demonstrate my engagement with other institutions and the sustained research work I’m capable of doing.

I think I’ll also have a better idea of what to expect when applying for jobs at museums in the future. Having a better sense of what an institution is like makes you sound a lot more confident when trying to sell yourself!"

Would you recommend it to future students?

"If you’re interested in possibly working in museums or interested in Barbara Hepworth and 20th century sculpture, then definitely! It’s been a highlight in my MA year and I’m really glad I’ve had the opportunity to do it."




Studentship applications are welcomed from all full-time students, and part-time students in their second year of study, on the MA in History of Art, or a related pathway degree, regardless of fee status (Home, EU or Overseas).

How to apply 

Please submit an enthusiastic personal statement of no more than 500 words which explains your interest in, and suitability for, this partnership opportunity. In particular, we will be looking for

  • your awareness of, interest in and commitment to the period / theme / collection(s) of the partner institution
  • any relevant skills, knowledge and/or experience
  • how you see the award fitting in with and facilitating your career plans

You are advised to consult the information on this webpage, and the gallery’s own website, before you apply.  Please email your personal statement to by the deadline of 11am (BST) on Monday 22 October 2018.

It has really helped me understand what it is like to work in a museum and that it means a whole lot more than just being a really good art historian.

Maddie Boden, 2014-15
The Hepworth Wakefield Partnership Studentship

The student will gain experience in exhibition administration, planning and delivery, including handling objects, using databases, and writing and developing interpretive material for public displays.

I’ve already been able to use this placement as evidence of my experience in several applications.

Maddie Boden, 2014-15
The Hepworth Wakefield Partnership Studentship

Designed by award-winning architect Sir David Chipperfield, The Hepworth Wakefield has been described as 'one of the Top 50 art galleries in the world' by The Times


Current Partnership Studentships: