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Art Fund Student Opportunities Blog: Doors Open Days Launch

By Mhairi Brooker, Art Fund Student Opportunities placement and Exhibition and Engagement Assistant. Mhairi is a 3rd year Animation student. 

Like most students in May, I found myself facing the prospect of 5 months alone in my flat until my University course started up again in September- a longer break than usual due to the shortened year due to Covid. I was lucky to catch an advertisement for the Art Fund Opporunity Placement at the Scottish Maritime Museum in the Art Fund newsletter. I thought it sounded like a unique and exciting opportunity that is not often available for students with little to no experience with exhibition or museum work.

During the placement I assisted with a variety of different projects, one of which was the Doors Open Day launch event on the 12th August. Part of the Doors Open Day event launch included the opening of the Door Open Day art installation that was open to the public at the Museum reception throughout the duration of the festival. The installation encompassed a tryptic of large doors that represented iconic doors found at heritage sites across Scotland.

I was involved in building the doors which were made up of both larger parts and smaller pieces, the plywood stacks on top of one another to create the image of doors. It took a few days to paint all the individual pieces and then glue them together, as well as adding the detailed patterns, but definitely worth the time and effort as they create a very striking image, being quite a fun and literal reference to Doors Open Days.

Sections of plywood doors laid out on floor
Sections of plywood that made up the iconic doors of the Doors Open Days art installation.


Mhairi painting blue door wall mounted scultpure.
Mhairi puts the finishing touches to the installtion.


Part of the larger doors installation was the invitation to write on a post-it note your thoughts about heritage, and what you’re excited to see going forward, and then stick the note onto one of the doors. People have expressed their excitement for being able to explore heritage sites again, hopeful for renewed interest in history and heritage, as well as acknowledging the fantastic work that has been done by staff of heritage sites over the last year.

On the launch day itself visitors were invited to hear Susan O’Connor, Director of Scottish Civic Trust & Michael Hitchon, Ayrshire Doors Open Days Coordinator, reflecting on the last year, how it has affected heritage sites. People were very excited for this year’s Doors Open Days launch, since there has been renewed interest in exploring heritage sites in the last year after having to spend a lot of time indoors. This event, as well as my time at the museum, has renewed my own interest in the importance of heritage. It was great to hear from Mr Hitchon about how Doors Open Days in Ayrshire had started and spread out across the years.


Michael Hitchon stands on stage giving a speech to the audience.
Michael Hitchon, Ayrshire Doors Open Days Coordinator, addresses the audience.


Launch attendees gather on stage by the Iconic Doors Installtion
The national Doors Open Day 2021 launch was a huge success!


Our other work as interns involved assisting with a collections move and learning about the cataloguing systems. Our particular placement has been focused on the Glass Ships in Bottles by Ayako Tani exhibition, where I assisted in interpretation writing, subtitling the exhibition film, and setting up the exhibition itself.

I thoroughly enjoyed this placement, finding the variety of tasks to be engaging and I learned lots of new, useful skills. The staff were all great fun to work with, and learning about maritime history was fascinating! I’ll be able to use the skills I learned at the Maritime museum in my own practice, either helping with exhibitions during my time at University, or perhaps looking into a career in this sector once I graduate.


the three student placements stand in front of a vessel at the Scottish Maritime Museum
Rhian, Nicole and Mhairi, Art Fund Student Opportunities placements.


Art Fund Student Opportunities harness the talent of university students to help realise projects at museums and galleries. These paid placements give students hands on experience and training. 

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