Behind the scenes with an archive volunteer

The RBSA was founded back in 1821 and boasts a Permanent Collection of over 800 works of art.

Helping organise the Gallery archives is a particularly large and challenging task!

I researched many artists during my time at the RBSA Gallery, including:

  • Oliver Baker
  • Henry Harris Lines
  • Dennis A Doherty
  • Anthony Sawbridge
  • Kim Kempshall

The research helped me produce articles for the Highlights of the Collection page at the RBSA website.

These pieces are researched and written by members of the Gallery’s Volunteer Archive Team, including students completing professional skills modules like myself.

As an Archive Team Volunteer, my main role at the RBSA was putting information into the artwork database using the program MODES, which is the collections management software used by the Gallery.


Baker%2c Oliver%2c Pandy Mill%2c print (etching)%2c 2005X20
Oliver Baker, Pandy Mill, Undated, Etching, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, Birmingham, 33.5 x 23 cm © the artist’s estate, photo credit: Royal Birmingham Society of Artists



My placement at the RBSA Gallery was part of the Professional Skills Development module in  Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham.

I gained a behind-the-scenes look into how a gallery operates, particularly how collections and archives are organised and maintained. The perspective I gained as part of the Archive Team will assist me as I pursue a career in museum work.

Not only has my placement helped me professionally, but it also helped me to develop a personal appreciation for art.

By Ellie Dargavel



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