Museum Studies at Leicester

Curating and Marketing Inclusivity at Attenborough Arts Centre


As part of my placement at Attenborough Arts Centre, working with the Visual Arts team I was assigned to design a temporary exhibition in the Balcony Gallery, showcasing art pieces from the collection of the University of Leicester. This placement enabled me to gain a comprehensive understanding of every aspect of exhibition planning, from preparation to execution.

In the initial stage, I had to select around twenty art pieces from over 1500 items in the school’s art collection database and organize them around a central theme for the exhibition. The information in the database was incomplete, lacking artwork images and precise locations for part of the art pieces. This necessitated on-site inspections throughout the campus buildings and visits to the Putney Art Store on campus to view the artworks and correct and update the University’s collection database. I also retrieved some of the lost artworks, returning them to the university’s art storage.

Taking a thematic approach to exhibition research I noticed a gender imbalance within the subjects in the collection.  Among over 1500 artworks, only 30 were related to women, revealing an uneven representation and visibility of female-related themes. By showcasing an exhibition centred on female emotions, I intended to bring attention to the issue of gender disparity in the University’s art collection and enrich the university’s future choices in art acquisitions.

My Attenborough Arts Centre placement has been an enriching experience, and I am grateful for the opportunities it provided to contribute to the institution’sstudent painting vision while also aligning with my own future career goals in the arts sector. The experience has deepened my passion for curatorial work, and I am excited to continue pursuing a career that fosters inclusivity, creativity, and positive change through the arts.


My placement working with the Marketing Team at Attenborough Arts Centre has been a hugely valuable experience which I am really grateful for.  Seeing how marketing and outreach can be used to help identify and breakdown unintentional barriers to the arts by developing an understanding of the circumstances, needs, and expectations of different audiences has been really interesting and inspiring.

Because I settled on creating a mix of both physical and digital marketing materials, I was able to develop my skills in a number of areas including graphic design, report writing, and learning how to write copy for different audiences on different digital platforms. I have also spent a lot of time reading and learning about accessible marketing practices which I will be carrying forwards into all of the future work I do.

In the case of this particular exhibition I conducted research into visual arts audiences more broadly including existing audiences at Attenborough Arts Centre, as well as those which are often underrepresented in the arts. Based on my findings I was then able to conduct further research using online resources and different kinds of data to develop a better understanding of how these audiences might prefer to engage with the visual arts and identify marketing methods which might help to facilitate this engagement. Having all of this information meant that I was able to make informed decisions about the kinds of marketing materials I should produce, as well as the design of visual assets and the style and content of the copy.

Along with the different practical marketing skills I’ve learnt, I think one of the biggest things I will take away from this project and my placement as a whole is the ‘audience centred’ approach to arts marketing. I’m excited to see how audience centred marketing practices could help in addressing and removing some of the barriers to arts engagement and hopefully inspire positive change throughout the sector.

Xiaoya Ran, MA Museum Studies and Chloe Louise Hutchinson, MSc Museum Studies


Credit: Attenborough Arts Centre, Xioaya painting the Balcony Gallery

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