AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award: University of Leeds and The National Gallery, London

Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD researching the curatorial practices of Sir Philip Hendy (1900-1980); Hendy was Director of The National Gallery (1946-67) after previously holding the Directorship of Leeds Museums & Galleries (1934-46).

The studentship is one of a number of fully-funded awards in the newly-established Collaborative Doctoral Partnership awarded to The National Gallery. The project will be supervised by Dr Mark Westgarth (University of Leeds) and Dr Susanna Avery-Quash (The National Gallery). This Collaborative Doctoral Award offers an exciting opportunity to pursue a fully funded PhD with one of the UK’s leading universities together with one of the world’s foremost art gallery museums. The successful candidate will undertake high quality historical research leading to a PhD combined with an exceptional opportunity to gain practical art gallery museum work experience.

The studentship funding is subject to final confirmation by the AHRC but will be fully funded for three years full-time equivalent and will begin in October 2013. It will cover tuition fees at home/EU rate and provide a maintenance award at RCUK rates (currently £13,726 per annum). In addition the AHRC provide an extra £550 per annum for Collaborative Doctoral Award students.

Sir Philip Hendy was an important figure in the institutional history of the National Gallery, and was also an innovative scholar and an influential figure in the promotion of modern art in pre- and post-war Britain. Hendy was the Gallery’s longest serving Director (1946-1967), leading the institution through a period of post-war reconstruction, modernising its administration and ensuring an impressive acquisition record. Equally important was Hendy’s earlier appointment at Leeds Museums & Galleries (1934-1946) where he staged high profile exhibitions of modern art (at Leeds City Art Gallery and at Temple Newsam House) during WWII.  An investigation of Hendy as museum-director at Leeds and London is an opportunity for an enhanced understanding of the history of two key institutions and their role in the public display and interpretation of artworks as well as an assessment of the changing relationships between regional and national art museums.  The focus on Hendy will provide an important case study for the history of curatorship and its political, social and cultural contexts, further illuminating the significance of the changing methods and practices of museum curatorship in times of economic, political and social crisis.

The following research aims underline the main issues to be addressed by the project, though the student will have scope to define the topic and approach in conjunction with the supervisors:

To assess the impact and significance of the activities of Hendy as a promoter and champion of Modern and contemporary art on the increased public interest in and engagement with British Modernism; to investigate and assess Hendy’s innovations to and interventions in existing public art museum management practices in the period 1934-1967; to investigate the impact and significance of, and the relationships between, Hendy’s curatorial practices in a regional context at Leeds and in a national context in London.

The closing date for applications is 5pm on Friday 5 July 2013. For information on how to apply, see the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural studies website.