Hannah Smyth

Curatorial Intern

In her final semester of the Master of Curating and Cultural Leadership at UNSW Art & Design, Hannah commenced an internship and Capstone Project at Australian Design Centre. With a background in Art Theory, Hannah was excited to work with ADC to produce a practical tool for ongoing partnership development and a tangible outcome for the organisation.

Q. Hannah, you’ve been working here at ADC as an intern for three months, what are your impressions?
I was originally drawn to ADC as a smaller organisation, as I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn about and experience lots of different aspects of curating, programming and marketing in the arts. In a larger institution, I might have been lost within their massive structure – focusing on one task in one department. At ADC I have been able to engage with so many exciting projects and develop a really practical understanding of how the organisation runs.

My immediate impression of ADC was that it is such a wonderfully collaborative space. The small team communicates so well and supports each other to pull together incredible exhibitions, programs and events. As interns, we were included in so many stages of this process - weekly project meetings, opening evenings and events, and staff catch ups over (mandatory) tea and cake in the gallery.

Q. Can you explain a little about the capstone project? What is it? What was your focus?
The MCCL program incorporates a Capstone Project for students in their final semester. This is an opportunity for emerging curators/programmers/writers to have an immersive professional experience with a member of the GLAM+ alliance, and to design, implement and evaluate a project that fulfils a certain goal for the organisation. Not only is this a valuable networking opportunity for students, it pushes us to produce a project that has a tangible outcome – something practical to add to all that theory!

Working with ADC, my focus for the Capstone Project has been researching potential stakeholders within the local area and mapping the locations of neighbouring arts organisations, community groups and commercial business. This project addressed the ADC’s wish to expand their knowledge of who their neighbours are and how they could work with them. Through this process I produced three partnership recommendations that would provide opportunities for cross-promotional content sharing, collaborative programming, and respond to the ADC’s community outreach goals. These recommendations will act as prototypes to activate potential partnerships moving forward.

Q. How could other organisations benefit from the approach you have taken in this project?
What stood out for me while developing the project, is how the ADC has taken an integrated approach to their position within the community, opening up the space to different audiences and potential partners. For arts organisations, particularly not-for-profits, I think it is incredibly useful to develop an awareness of the community that surrounds them. This would enable them to tap into the not-so obvious connections that might exist, expand their audiences and engage stakeholders.

While producing the partnership recommendations, I tried to identify businesses and organisations with values that aligned with ADC - so I knew that elements of our existing creative programming would appeal to them, and could provide a platform to initiate collaboration. For organisations struggling to find the time to tap into partnership opportunities, this approach would allow them to make the most their available time and resources.

Q. What’s next for you?
At the end of June I’ll be finishing up at ADC and heading off to Europe with some other Art & Design students to visit documenta in Kassel and the Venice Biennale. After this jam-packed trip, I’ll be travelling to Yuendumu in the NT to start another internship placement at Warlukurlangu Artists Centre. I’m sure it will be an incredible experience and nothing like anything I’ve done before!

I’m due to graduate in November and will have to face the daunting prospect of the ‘real world’, but I plan to continue working at the Australian Museum and try my hand at freelance art writing to build on my portfolio. Long term, I’m hoping to work in Public Programming at some stage, as I love the creative strategies used to engage audiences with culture, art and design.


Photo: Alix Fiveash ADC