Head of Collection
Country / Territory
Job Category
Pay Band
Pay Band 8
Vacancy Description
Region: UK Country: England Department: Arts Job Category: Full Time, indefinite contract Location: London Pay Band: 8

The Opportunity

As the Head of Collection for the British Council you will have overall responsibility for the care, protection and development of the British Council Collection. This is a unique opportunity to manage all the day to day running of the Collection including the loans programme, displays in the British Council’s global estate and  collaborate with colleagues to find innovative ways to use and promote the British Council Collection.

The successful candidate will lead on the drafting and implementation of a new Collection strategy and oversee the development and delivery of a new Collection Centre and manage the move of the Collection to the new storage facility.


The Organisation

The British Council was founded to create ‘a friendly knowledge and understanding’ between the people of the UK and wider world by making a positive contribution to the countries we work with, and in doing so making a lasting difference to the UK’s international standing, prosperity and security. The programmes we use to do this are wide-ranging and cover the arts, education, English, science and society. 

The Arts

Our UK Arts team works with the British Council’s global network of offices to achieve significant impact and change by finding new ways of connecting and seeing each other through the arts. Our team in the UK has three main groupings: We have six art form teams; three cross-disciplinary teams; and three country-specific teams in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Our aim is to see stronger creative sectors across the world that are better connected with the UK.

We believe arts and culture are vital to prosperous, secure societies, and that offering international cultural connections and experiences strengthens their resilience. We are uniquely able to make a difference thanks to our extensive and diverse networks in the UK and internationally, enabling us to respond to the individual context of each place we work in.

The Team 

In the Visual Arts team we use our connections and understanding of the UK contemporary art sector to advise and support our international colleagues on working with museums, galleries and artists within cultural relations programmes and provide a link to the UK. . We work in partnership with museums, galleries and artists to develop projects to encourage showcasing, collaboration and professional exchange, and to build relationships between the museum, gallery and art communities in the UK and around the world.

The British Council Collection began in 1938 with a modest group of works on paper and has grown to more than 8,500 artworks, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, film and multimedia, by over 1,250 artists. The Collection promotes artists who have contributed to the development of British art by purchasing their work at a significant stage in their careers and enabling it to reach a global audience. The British Council’s Visual Arts team helps these objects to travel around the world as part of our international exhibitions. We also loan works to museums and galleries in the UK and overseas, and we invite curators from around the world to engage with our Collection, learn about how we manage it and select works to display in their home country.

The successful candidate must demonstrate the following essential knowledge & experience:

·            Proven experience of all aspects of collection management

·            Experience of collection care, conservation, art handling and international courier best practice

·            Experience of and understanding of international museum standards

·            Experience of using collection management database systems

·            Good, wide knowledge of modern and contemporary British art.

·            The ability to make critical judgements across genres

·            Experience of managing large teams including formal line management

·            The ability to write effectively for a variety of different audiences

·            Excellent contacts in the UK Museums and Galleries sector


 Some of the main opportunities/challenges include:   (Please see Role Profile for full details of the duties):


·         Business review: review the role of the Collection and produce plans for future sustainability, with regard to paid for services,  and other income streams  both internal and external, to ensure that targets for loans and exhibitions,  and related operating costs  can be met

·         New Collection Centre: as a key member of the project team working on delivering a new permanent and sustainable home for  the British Council Collection, you will contribute expertise and leadership, to create a fit for purpose facility which will help to increase access to and use of the Collection both in the UK and overseas

·         Risk and process management: risk review all current Collection activity and processes, ensuring all are robust and compliant, including internal and external audit reporting, valuations, insurance, data accuracy, copyright, website and database security

·         Governance: in collaboration with Corporate Directorate ensure top level governance of the Collection is robust and future proof

·         Maximising loans and promoting the Collection:  develop plans to ensure that the British Council Collection is one of the hardest working collections in the UK, by working with Director of Exhibitions to develop sustainable Collection exhibitions for the future, incorporating training and skills development into projects, and increasing loans to museums and galleries both in the UK and overseas, and further increasing access to the Collection via digital platforms. 

·         Finance and fundraising:  taking an entrepreneurial attitude to all expenditure and income, driving efficiency and cost savings, identifying and implementing commercial opportunities,  and spearheading fundraising for the Collection, in collaboration with the British Council’s Partnerships team.



Equality Comment & Equality of Opportunity (UK)

Valuing diversity is essential to the British Council’s work. We aim to abide by and promote equality legislation by following both the letter and the spirit of it to try and avoid unjustified discrimination, recognising discrimination as a barrier to equality of opportunity, inclusion and human rights.  All staff worldwide are required to ensure their behaviour is consistent with our policies.

The British Council is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and is keen to reflect the diversity of UK society at every level within the organisation. We welcome applications from all sections of the community. In line with the British Council's Child Protection policy, any appointment is contingent on thorough checks. In the UK, and in other countries where appropriate systems exist, these include criminal records checks. 

For further information please see the documents below: 

Role profile
British Council behaviours 

  • Generous pension
  • 32 days annual leave
  • Flexible working policy
  • Childcare vouchers
  • Season ticket loan 

 The closing date is Sunday 23rd April 2017 at 23:59pm UK time

 Please note interviews will be held on Friday 28th April.