Art belongs to us all but only a small number of people are empowered to make decisions about how museums decide what to show, what is collected and how it is represented.
National Museum Cardiff invited The Wallich’s service users – many of whom have experienced homelessness – to co-curate their own exhibition of modern and contemporary art.
Who Decides? was selected from the hundreds of paintings, drawings, sculptures, films, prints, and installations that the Museum and the Derek Williams Trust have acquired over the last 10 years.
It ran at National Museum Cardiff between 28 October 2017 – 2 September 2018.
Sian David, Head of Participation and Progression at The Wallich said:
“The narrative ‘art is for everyone’ sits perfectly with The Wallich. We go beyond getting people off the streets. We try to give our clients rich experiences and create exciting and innovative opportunities that are out of the ordinary.”
As they pondered over elements from beauty to brush-strokes, service users from The Wallich, such as Ian Harris, have been documenting their experience of selecting art for the exhibition.
Ian sang the praises of the project:
“I have taken great pride in my contribution to this exhibition and cannot wait until it is up and running.
“The majority of the works have been chosen by our team to be displayed. We have, however, been able to choose an individual piece to be displayed.”
The works featured in Who Decides? have been selected from the hundreds of paintings, drawings, sculptures, films, prints and installations that the Museum and The Derek Williams Trust have acquired in the last 10 years.
It also celebrates the 25-year partnership between Amgueddfa Cymru and The Derek Williams Trust.
Grace Todd from Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Cardiff said:
“The collections that we hold belong to us all, but only a small number of people are empowered to make decisions about how museums decide what to show, what is collected and how it is represented. Is this fair?
“By making our collection more accessible to all, Who Decides? aims to create a more democratic and accountable Museum.”
Sian David agreed with the sentiment and continued:
“Many of the museum project’s participants have experienced hardship, but they’re on new paths to improving their lives.
“We hope to continue making partnerships with cultural organisations, like Amgueddfa Cymru, to boost the skills, confidence and, ultimately, happiness of our clients.”
Michael Pugh, another of The Wallich’s curators, confirmed the importance of Who Decides? in encouraging wider participation in culture:
“I wouldn’t have come in to the museum before but now I’m here and I’ve loved it all. I’m not afraid to come here by myself, I’m not daunted anymore”.
How did the museum project work? Who are the people behind the art?
Watch our exciting videos about the Who Decides? exhibition.
Take a look at the media generated from the project
Nicola Heywood Thomas visits Who Decides? for the Radio Wales Arts Show. Listen now on BBC iPlayer
‘My life was like a spin dryer’ watch the BBC Wales interview with a The Wallich curator
BBC News interviews The Wallich curator Mareth
Who Decides? gains attention from BBC News
WalesOnline reviews Who Decides? exhibition curated by people who have experienced homelessness
Who Decides? exhibition opens its doors to the public on 28 October 2017
Sneak-peek of the Who Decides? exhibition revealed
Museum Project launches video gallery
Participants share their experiences of contributing 1000 hours’ volunteering to the exhibition