My name is Chelsea Coates, and I am one of the former Young Curators and currently a member of Wallace Youth at Wallace Collection.

‘Wallace Youth panel giving a tour of the Wallace Collection to members of the public’

When I was chosen to help curate the Sssh…It’s a Secret exhibition I began to appreciate art in a completely different way. Although I had always admired the craftsmanship that went into the artworks that I had seen on previous gallery visits, after becoming a Young Curator I began to develop a deeper understanding of art, seeing artefacts as portals into historical worlds instead of only appreciating them on a superficial level. I came to realise that each object had an intriguing story waiting to be discovered, whether it was hidden in the symbolism of the painting itself or in the context of when and why it was made – and I wanted to unearth them all.

Being a member of Wallace Youth has given me an insight into the world behind the scenes at museums, through informative talks from several curators and staff members from the various departments at the Wallace from publicity to conservation. This has given me a completely different perspective on museums and even made me consider working in one in the future. I have also gained skills in other areas such as photography and film editing due to my involvement in creating a video on the recent exhibition ‘The Middle’ and I have learnt more about how to decipher the imagery in paintings through a short Art History course last summer. Most of all, this experience has given me confidence: we were always encouraged to deliver speeches at certain events, to lead guided tours and to take an active role in organising and improving current events at the Collection from summer holiday workshops to the Youth Private View event for the exhibition ‘The Middle’.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been given such a unique opportunity and I have so many fond memories of my time here that it almost feels like a second (much larger and more exquisite) home! I believe museums should be places where people of all ages and backgrounds feel welcomed and the Wallace Collection has managed to achieve this: my experiences here have not only reinforced this belief but have made it a reality for me and all the other young people I have shared this wonderful journey with. I will miss not being able to visit the Wallace Collection as regularly for a while, and I must admit, I am slightly envious of the young people just beginning their experience here. They are about to embark on a journey that they will never forget, which will give them valuable skills but above all a newfound appreciation and lifelong love of art. As I move into the next stage of my education, I know that I will bring these invaluable qualities along with me.

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