Volunteering at the National Arts Education Archive (NAEA) at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is a breath of fresh air. It combines opportunities to enjoy beautiful landscape, intriguing sculpture and one of the UK’s largest collections of art by children and students, and materials by educators.
NAEA was established in 1985, and YSP has managed it since 2009. Welcoming researchers, artists, educators, curators and students, the NAEA is a resource for anyone interested in studying the history of arts education from mid-19th century to the present day – it contains over 200 collections, with over 100,000 items of archival material. Located in the grounds of YSP it attracts local, national, and international interest.
I became aware of the opportunity to volunteer at the NAEA via a friend who was also working there. At the time I was volunteering at the National Coal Mining Museum and wanted a change. I am a dietitian and worked in healthcare in America and the NHS for most of my career. I was the regional programme manager for the Yorkshire Public Health Department where I was involved in coordinating national health projects across the county. Arts education was a completely foreign field to me, especially as I have no artistic talent.
When I joined the NAEA in 2017, Anna Bowman, manager and curator, asked me to investigate how the NAEA can gain national accreditation from The National Archives. After two years of writing up policies and evaluating customer usage, we successfully gained national accreditation.
Many of NAEA’s staff and volunteers are leading figures in arts education and have an in-depth knowledge of stimulating artistic creativity in children and young people. I enjoy having access to the archive’s huge collection of artwork by children, endeavouring to fulfil their artistic potential and exhibiting amazing skill and sensitivity in recording the world around them. A collection of paintings by children will be open to the public in the NAEA’s atrium later in 2022.
Book tickets to YSP in advance via http://ysp.org.uk
NAEA is open to the public on Tuesdays, 10am-4pm.