A Day in the Life: James Morrison, Senior Collections Coordinator

How did you come to work at the GAC?

I studied Fine Art at university and after graduating had to find full-time employment with a regular income to help reduce 5 years of student debt. My first job was in a central London commercial art gallery, however after 3 years I decided I wanted to move into the public sector. Over the next 12 years I worked for the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and Arts Council England (ACE) specialising in export licensing for cultural objects. During my time at ACE I had the opportunity to study for a diploma in Art Profession Law and Ethics where I got to learn a lot about working with a Collection. After completing the diploma I knew this was the direction that I wanted my career to take next.

How do you start your working day?

Always with my inbox and the gac@culture.gov.uk inbox (if I don’t have a meeting to attend first thing).

What does a typical day at the GAC look like for you?

It often involves a lot of admin. The Senior Collection Coordinator is a pivotal role responsible for business and project planning, finance and budget management, providing secretariat to the GAC Advisory Committee, managing copyright in and out of the Collection, drafting responses for FOI’s, PQ’s, policy documents and Ministerial submissions, scheduling and oversight of public tours and dealing with public enquiries of a wide-ranging nature. However, whenever possible I try to take some time away from my desk to help colleagues with some art handling or to take a look at some artworks that are about to go out on display before they are packed.

What is your favourite part of the job?

Without a doubt, providing secretariat to the GAC Advisory Committee – this is a real privilege. Not only do I get to view an array of artworks selected by the GAC Director, Senior Curator/Deputy Director and Curators to bring to the Committee for consideration, I also get to hear the opinions on the artworks from members of the Advisory Committee (which includes the Directors of the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Slade School of Fine Art). This has really helped me learn to look at artworks in a different way and it is always interesting when a work being considered splits opinion down the middle!

What is different about the GAC compared with other places you have worked?

I am lucky to have primarily worked in the arts, however I think the GAC has a special atmosphere. All the staff love working here and are 100% committed to what we do, also being employed by a Collection that is part of central government will always be unique.