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August 2009 Issue
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Arts has real-world connection


Who says Arts students don't get hands-on experience?

Thanks to the University of Adelaide's Arts Internship Scheme, students such as Helen Chadwick have the opportunity to gain real experience in a workplace of their choice.

As part of the Arts Internship, 20-year-old Helen - a History student - has been selected as an intern to the Manager/Curator of historic Ayers House Museum, Elspeth Grant.

"As part of the scheme, students are placed with business and government organisations for one day a week in their final semester of study. The aim is to research and write a report useful to the host organisation," said the Registrar of the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Robert Ewers.

"The report counts towards the students' final results and gives them useful experience in the real world. It also provides contacts for the students to find employment once they've graduated, and in some instances, before they graduate."

During her internship this semester, Helen will be investigating the history of Ayers House from the 1920s until the 1960s.

"I'm hoping to work for a museum or gallery once I've finished my studies, so this is a perfect opportunity to gain some experience in a museum setting," Helen said.

"I like the fact that this work contributes to my studies - it will help me develop some practical skills and knowledge, but it will also help me academically too."

Ms Grant said that apart from being home to the Ayers family in the mid to late 1800s, Ayers House - at 288 North Terrace, Adelaide - was also used for a variety of interesting purposes during the 20th century.

"Helen's research project will build on Robyn Taylor's 1997 thesis A History of Ayers House: Its Users and Uses by conducting an oral history project with nurses who were accommodated and/or trained at the House from 1926 to 1969," Ms Grant said.

"As time marches on, it is important to capture the women's stories and memorabilia about the hard work of being a nurse in training and also letting their hair down. For example, there are some interesting tales about nights spent at the Palais Dance Hall, which was once next door to the House."

The project will contribute to the State Library of South Australia's JD Somerville Oral History Collection.

"The aim of the project overall is to increase knowledge of 20th century uses of Ayers House. Helen's research may form the basis of an exhibition about this period in the House's history and/or a display to be erected at a reunion of nurses at the House.

"At the end of the semester, Helen will give an oral presentation at Ayers House, with members of the Ayers House Advisory Committee, Museum volunteers and National Trust members invited to attend. This will be an excellent experience for Helen at such an early stage in her professional development.

"The National Trust greatly appreciates this opportunity to work with Helen and the University of Adelaide," Ms Grant said.

For information about the Arts Internship Scheme, call +61 8 8303 5245 or visit:

For information about Ayers House Museum, visit:

Story by Amanda Phillis and David Ellis

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From left: History student and Arts Intern Helen Chadwick with the Manager/Curator of Ayers House Museum, Elspeth Grant
Photo by David Ellis

From left: History student and Arts Intern Helen Chadwick with the Manager/Curator of Ayers House Museum, Elspeth Grant
Photo by David Ellis

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