Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

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Sarah Richardson

PhD Candidate

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

BA (Hons) Fine Art (Leeds Metropolitan University), MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies (University of Leeds)

My research is concerned with audience engagement and development practices in art galleries; in particular an exploration of the juncture between the theoretical and the practical, influenced by my work in gallery education. Other areas of interest include: cultural value, policy (and its relationship to practice), the politics and power of the institution, identity/identification, and, ways of knowing.


I received a First-class honours degree in Fine Art from Leeds Beckett University in 2008, and in 2012 I completed an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Leeds with Distinction. I have worked at a range of arts and cultural institutions in a variety of roles, most recently as the Adult Learning Programme Assistant at The Hepworth Wakefield (2013-15). Since 2015 I have been working as a Seminar Assistant on the BA History of Art core module – ‘The Story of Art’, University of Leeds, and have experience in delivering and supporting workshops as part of my role as Education Outreach Fellow (Art History and Museum Studies), also at the University. I am currently a member of the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage, and the Association of critical Heritage Studies. I have organised events, workshops and conferences within and outside the university, and delivered conference papers around the country as well as abroad. In 2013 I was awarded a PhD scholarship by the AHRC to study at the University of Leeds, and successfully completed my upgrade in June 2014.

Research Interests

  • Audience engagement and development in art galleries
  • Interpretation practices across galleries and museums
  • The development, implementation and impact of cultural policy
  • Museum and gallery education


Teaching Assistant, University of Leeds

Story of Art 1&2 – 2015/16 and 2016/17


Education Outreach Fellow, University of Leeds

(Art History & Art Gallery and Museum Studies), June 2016 – on-going

Research Projects & Grants

2013-2016 – AHRC PhD bursary at University of Leeds.

2016 – Leeds for Life Conference Awards, £500, conference attendance

2015 – Leeds for Life Foundation Grant, £500, organising committee for “Cultural Value Postgraduate Conference”

Research Centres & Groups

Association of Critical Heritage Studies

The Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage, University of Leeds

PhD Thesis

The Art Gallery and its Audience(s): The Importance of Scale, Space and Place in Constructing Social Relations [working title]

The research explores the concept of engaging and developing new and existing audiences in art galleries. It will attempt to discover why these practices are perceived as important, who is calling for them and their concomitant agenda(s), and how these calls for–and abstract theoretical ideas around–engaging and developing audiences are put into practice in the here and now.

The aim of the thesis is to answer the following questions: What does audience engagement and development mean to the gallery? How do they articulate these concepts? How does this then translate into the day-to-day practices of the gallery? Why do they do it? What is the ‘impact’ for the Gallery its audience(s)?


Professional Practice

Conference Papers

November 2016 – University of Exeter (6th Midterm Conference of the European Sociological Association’s Research Network Sociology of Culture (RN7)) Knowledge Production in the Art Gallery: The Importance of Scale, Space and Place in Constructing Social Relations

June 2016 – Montreal, Canada (Association of Critical Heritage Studies Third Biennial Conference, “What Does Heritage Change?”) Understanding ‘Audience’ in the Art Gallery: The Importance of ‘Place’ in Knowledge Production

April 2016 – University of Leicester (The Museum in the Global Contemporary: Debating the Museum of Now, Museum Studies at Leicester 50th Anniversary Conference) The art gallery and its audience(s): Negotiating local and international contexts

November 2015 – Barbican Centre, London (TECHNE Student (Un)Conference: Kinesis and Stasis) Institutional Knowing//Knowing Institutions, (paper and facilitated group discussion in collaboration with Joanne Williams)

October 2015 – Keele University (AHRC North West Consortium Postgraduate Conference) What is ‘Audience’? An Exploration of Identity, Identification and Power

Research Reports

June 2015 – ARTiculation Discovery Research Report, Research Report commissioned by Devonshire Educational Trust and University of Leeds

March 2015 – Creative Hubs: A Review, Research Report commissioned by The Hepworth Wakefield, University of Leeds and Wakefield Council

Call for Papers

November 2016 – Special Issue of Museum & SocietyMuseum Methods: Researching the Museum as Institution”, Co-Editor with Nuala Morse, University of Manchester and University College London; Bethany Rex, University of Newcastle

Events Organised

June 2016 – Making an Impact: Postgraduate Research Conference, Keynote Speaker: Professor John Holden, co-organiser with Joanne Williams

May 2016 – Tracing Arguments // A PhD Peer Review Workshop, co-organiser with Elspeth Mitchell and Yelin Zhao


January 2016 – May 2016, IGNITE Curatorial Consortium Internship, University of Leeds & Pavilion

Professional Roles

2016 – ongoing, Education Outreach Fellow, University of Leeds

2015 – ongoing, Teaching Assistant, University of Leeds

October 2013 – January 2015, Adult Learning Programme Assistant, The Hepworth Wakefield



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