Research Associate ( Freelance)

Position Name Research Associate 
Duration Contract: Fixed Term Contract for a duration of 6 months, approx. 2 days per week
Project Fee £7200
Reporting to Head of Programmes, Arts Council Collection
Location Will require travel between Southbank Centre location in Central London and Longside Gallery, Yorkshire

Remote or hybrid working 

Arts Council Collection:

The Arts Council Collection was established in 1946 by CEMA (the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts). Formed around a small group of paintings, it began with the goal of establishing a national art collection for the UK. Today it is one of the most widely circulated national loan collections of modern and contemporary British art in the world.

Since 1986 the Arts Council Collection has been managed by the Southbank Centre on behalf of Arts Council England, safeguarding the Collection for future generations, and adhering to the highest possible standards of collection care.

We look after over 8,100 works by close to 2,300 artists and continue to bring art to every corner of the country through loans to museums, galleries, schools, hospitals and other public institutions and through our programme of exhibitions, learning/engagement and research & scholarship. We work towards extending the Collection so that it has a greater impact on audiences, artists and partners.

Role Overview

The Arts Council Collection is seeking an experienced Research Associate to support the research of its 8000-strong collection as part of its ambitious ‘Mapping the Collection’ project. The aim of this project is to chart the acquisition history of the Arts Council Collection, from 1946-now. Specifically, your role will involve documenting the evolving Arts Council Collection acquisitions committee charting the works that were collected, and mapping these acquisitions against social, cultural and art historical trends. This initial phase of research will focus on using existing public access source materials and provenance material in the Arts Council Collection. This work will provide the basis for further, ongoing research and will be used across various digital platforms and publications relating to the history of the Arts Council Collection.

The post-holder will be knowledgeable about, and have experience of conducting primary archival research, in particular of working with 20th-century and contemporary artistic archives, an understanding of the wider historical and cultural context of 20th century British art, and be committed to developing new inclusive and diverse perspectives on the collection.

Summary of role:

  • Work within the research remit of the ‘Mapping the Collection’ project;
  • Operate within the area of specialism: 20th century British art and/or collections histories;
  • Develop and create a comprehensive timeline of acquisitions and committee members from 1946 – current day;
  • Contribute to Team research project review meetings;
  • Collation of Research data and information for project Report;

Main Duties and responsibilities:

  • Collect research data; this may be through a variety of research methods, such as archival work, literature reviews, and research interviews;
  • Analyse research data as directed;
  • Present research outputs (in writing and orally), ensuring full and accurate references are included;
  • Engage in review and feedback processes;
  • Overcome problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines;
  • Plan and manage their own research and administrative activities in an efficient and timely fashion;
  • Promote equality and value diversity, acting as a role model and fostering an inclusive working culture;

Person Specification


  • Postgraduate Degree (MA) or equivalent in relevant subject area: History of Art / Museum Studies / Archives or Records Management or equivalent subject.


  • Experience of a wide range of record and management work in a museum, library or archive, particularly working with artistic materials;
  • Practical experience of applying relevant skills and techniques, particularly with some knowledge and experience working with archival material and/or collection management;
  • Proven skill in managing workflow to deadlines;
  • Experience of the principles and practice of museum documentation;


  • Experience and aptitude in conducting archival research;
  • An inter-disciplinary approach to research and commitment to its cross-functional applications;
  • Ability to analyse information and communicate effectively;
  • Ability to access and organise resources successfully;
  • Excellent IT skills, notably in terms of databases, and skilled use of IT to improve efficiency and services related to archival collections;
  • A flexible, supportive and collaborative team-working style combined with professionalism, respect for others, tact, discretion and fair judgement;
  • Ability to communicate clearly;
  • Strong digital and presentation skills;
  • Ability to prioritise and strong attention to detail;
  • Ability to develop, establish and utilise internal and external relationships with individuals and institutions;


  • Knowledge of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, and how to actively ensure in day to day activity in own area that those with protected characteristics are treated equally and fairly

Further Information:

  • All work to be completed by June 2024 – 6 month contract/ 2 days per week;
  • Fixed Contract fee £7,200;
  • This role can involve remote or hybrid working although some archival research will need to be conducted in person;
  • Role will be based mainly at the Southbank Centre, London;
  • Possible research trips to Longside – travel expenses will be covered;
  • The deadline for applications is Thursday the 30th of November;
  • Interviews will take place online, on Monday the 11th of December;
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