Curatorial Apprentice (24 month contract)

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Company: Gainsborough’s House
Location: Sudbury, Suffolk
Salary: £9.50 per hour
Reports to: Keeper of Art and Place
Hours: 35 hours per week, including occasional weekends
Holiday: 22 days, public holidays
Closing date: Monday 26th September 2022
Interview date: Thursday 6th October 2022
Application Form:

Job Description

Join the team developing Gainsborough’s House as one of the leading heritage attractions in East Anglia! Gainsborough’s House will be a major visitor attraction in the East of England as a world-class museum, art gallery, arts and study centre.  It has just completed building four new exhibition galleries to display historic and contemporary exhibitions of international appeal and expand its ability to attract audiences.

This contract apprenticeship post is responsible to the Keeper of Art and Place and based in Sudbury, Suffolk. Responsibilities will include supporting the development of the collections and exhibition organisation at Gainsborough’s House.

The apprenticeship is designed to launch a person’s career in the cultural heritage sector. You will be mentored throughout the contract to help support your professional development.

The successful candidate will have excellent organisational skills, demonstrable interest in Gainsborough and the 18th century and good IT skills. You will be someone who can work under your own initiative and as part of a small team. A flexible and positive approach is essential.

Gainsborough’s House

Gainsborough’s House is a national centre for the art of Thomas Gainsborough at the artist’s childhood home. With Gainsborough as its inspiration, it seeks to bring his art and ideals to life to inspire a new generation of visitors. Our mission statement is ‘To promote the wider knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of the art of Thomas Gainsborough within the context of the eighteenth century and the inspiration of the Suffolk landscape and to preserve and enhance Gainsborough’s House and its collections for the benefit of present and future generations’.   

The House explores the life and art of Thomas Gainsborough. One of the greatest artists of his age, he is renowned throughout the world for his portrait and landscape paintings. The house, ‘a most excellent Brickt Mansion,’ was bought by John Gainsborough, the artist’s father, in May 1722. Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) was born in Sudbury and was baptised there at the Independent Meeting-House in Friars Street on 14 May 1727. He lived here until around 1740 when, as a young teenager, he was sent to London to pursue a career as an artist.  He returned to Sudbury in the spring of 1749 until 1752 when he painted his celebrated Mr and Mrs Andrews. He never lost the influence of his native town and county. ‘Nature was his teacher, and the woods of Suffolk his academy,’ noted an obituary after his death in 1788.

In 1958 Gainsborough’s House Society was formed to purchase the house and establish it as a centre for Thomas Gainsborough. The Museum opened to the public in 1961 and has remained open for over 50 years. The House has just completed a major development in its aim to bring Thomas Gainsborough to life for a new generation of visitors. 

Further details are available from Emma Boyd at

Applicants should send their application form to Trudy Pickerin, Gainsborough’s House, 46 Gainsborough Street, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2EU or via email: 

Job Purpose: 

The Curatorial Apprentice will work with the Keeper of Art and Place to support the development of the collections and organisation of exhibitions at Gainsborough’s House. This is an ideal role for someone at the beginning of their career with an interest in Thomas Gainsborough, 18th– century culture and art of all periods relevant to the activities of this unique museum and gallery.

Collections Management

  • Improve object records on the collections management database, ensuring documentation standards are met to a high standard 
  • Carry out routine inventory and condition checks of the collection 
  • Monitor lighting and climate control systems
  • Organise photography of the collections and manage the image library

Exhibitions & Displays

  • Assist with all aspects of administration for three main exhibitions a year and several displays (including loans, transport and insurance)
  • Assist with the organisation of mounting and framing
  • Write and edit interpretation 
  • Assist with the production of wall text, catalogues and other publications 
  • Assist with the installation of exhibitions and displays 
  • Maintain the stock of curatorial equipment 

Research & Public Access

  • Carry out research relating to the collections and the exhibition programme 
  • Answer public enquiries about the collections 
  • Assist with research visits to the collections store 


  • Deliver short gallery talks and assist with tours
  • Assist with the general events programme 


  • Contribute to the social media plan 
  • Assist with the management and training of volunteers 
  • Attend relevant training courses and participate in staff development initiatives to improve knowledge and working practice
  • Act as key-holder and Duty Manager on selected weekends
  • Any other reasonable tasks that might be required

Apprenticeship benefits 

  • Training by the Keeper of Art and Place in collections and exhibition management, object handling and installation
  • Collections management training courses provided by SHARE Museums East 
  • Opportunity to attend Open Days at museums and galleries who are part of the National Portrait Gallery’s National Skills and Knowledge Exchange Programme
  • Being part of a cohort of Apprentices in roles throughout the organisation 
  • Mentoring with CV and future job applications
Skills & Experience Excellent organisational and planning skills with good attention to detail  
Excellent written and verbal communications skills
Good IT skills
Experience of art historical research (desirable)
Experience of working effectively as part of a team 
Knowledge & Qualifications Degree in Art History or related subject (desirable)
Personal Attributes Interest in Thomas Gainsborough, 18th-century art and culture and the visual arts more broadly
Ability to work calmly under pressure and keep to deadlines
Enjoys practical as well as desk-based tasks 
Ability to work independently and as part of a team
Willingness to work some weekends and evenings

Equal Opportunities

 Gainsborough’s House is committed to providing equality of opportunity for all staff and welcomes applications from all individuals for advertised jobs that match their skills and interests. We welcome applications from all sections of the community. We particularly encourage applications from Black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates, and from disabled candidates. 

This post is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The Tezmae Charitable Trust.