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Visual arts and museums: how arts and culture are working collaboratively

  • Date: 29 February 2012
  • Artform: Museums, Visual arts
  • Area: National, South East
Peter Andrews, My Interpretation, Outside In Programme, Pallant House Gallery Peter Andrews, My Interpretation, Outside In Programme, Pallant House Gallery, Photo courtesy of the artist and Pallant House

There are many examples of museums and libraries working successfully in partnership with arts organisations and artists in the South East.

By working collaboratively on projects and programmes, these partnerships can provide a richer and more comprehensive experience to audiences and the public.

With over 300 museums and galleries and over 500 libraries in the South East, they are the perfect venues for bringing writers, poets, artists and other arts professionals together with audiences.

In a three-part series over the course of the next few months, we’ll be presenting examples of where different art forms have been working with museums or libraries: theatre and libraries, visual arts and museums, and libraries and literature.

Visual arts and museums

Pallant House Gallery discovered that by working with museum and arts organisations, they could deliver a programme that showcases marginalised artists nationally.

The gallery, an Arts Council England regularly funded organisation, began its successful Outside In programme in 2006 as a platform for marginalised artists to have their work be seen, as well as offer professional development opportunities. The programme runs a biennial art competition, which offers winning artists the chance to be exhibited in the gallery.

In 2009, Pallant House opened the competition to the South of England and they toured their Outside In exhibition to Hastings and Salisbury.

Marc Steene, Head of Learning and Community at Pallant House Gallery explains: ‘Last time we toured, we had over 100 pieces of work in the exhibition, and moving them around was expensive and stressful. We realised that a more sustainable and meaningful approach was to pass over the scheme to host organisations.’

‘We’re working with a range of museums and galleries across the country. We have the Outside In national competition that’s rolling out at the moment, and we’re working on large regional exhibitions to take place in 2013.

‘We’re allowing organisations to select and curate the works from local artists. We give them guidance, as well as access to our database, which has 1000 artists and is growing all the time. The database includes mental health teams and organisations who work with this client group - they are where the richness and strength of the project lies.’

Pallant House is working with Kettle’s Yard, Fitzwilliam Museum, and Museum of East Anglian life in the East; Compton Verney in Warwickshire; Arnolfini and Exeter’s Royal Museum in the West; the new Wakefield Hepworth in the North; Perth Museum and Art Gallery in Scotland; and Woking’s Lightbox in the South East. 

Marc says: ‘The website is a chance for artists to have a digital presence and have their work validated by being part of the Outside In gallery. From here, they can apply to competitions and manage their own work. For artists that find it difficult to access the art world – people with mental health issues, learning difficulties, who are or have been homeless, have physical disabilities, or have been to prison – this is a vital resource.

‘The quality and nature of the partner organisations also give the artists involvement significance. Artists are getting their work seen within the upper echelons of art museums.’

The Outside In: National competition is now open for submissions. For more information on how to enter, please see The deadline is 20 July 2012.