National Skills Sharing Partnership Films

National Skills Sharing Partnership logo

The films developed by the Gallery’s National Skills Sharing Partnership Programme aim to facilitate specialist knowledge exchange within the sector. The partnership programme is a learning network of 13 organisations across the UK which work together to share practice and knowledge while collaboratively exploring the relevance of portraiture to society today, many of them include a focus on identity and representation. Each film demonstrates a model of practice or case study through which different or complementary themes and ways of working are explored by partner organisations. The films are intended to provide a focus on transferrable models of practice which can be shared and adapted by other institutions outside of the network.

Explore the films

Diversifying collections

Films exploring approaches to creating more inclusive and dynamic portrait collections by addressing gaps through loans and contemporary commissioning.

Watch Diversifying collections films

Co-production and collaborative practice

Films exploring working with audiences, communities and colleagues to bring new perspectives and increased relevance to displays and exhibitions.

Watch Co-production and collaborative practice films

Connecting people and places

Films exploring links between artists, sitters and places, from representations of local people, to how collections and sites relate to their surroundings.

Watch Connecting people and places films

Behind the scenes

Films exploring practice-sharing moments between museum and gallery colleagues around ways to curate, conserve, market, store and interpret collections.

Watch Behind the scenes films

Diversifying collections


Addressing gaps in collections and exhibitions with The Beaney

How to address under representation and diversity is a question that sits at the heart of The Beaney’s approach to collecting and exhibiting portraits. By shining a light on their Mirror Mirror exhibition, which included loans from the National Portrait Gallery and three new portrait commissions of publicly nominated local heroes, this film shares some of The Beaney's approaches to creating a more inclusive collection.


Working with contemporary art in historic spaces with Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village

This film introduces the Faces of Fame: G F Watts X Simon Frederick exhibition at the Watts Gallery. Featuring a selection of photographs from Simon Frederick's portrait series Black is the New Black, alongside paintings from G F Watts’s Hall of Fame, the exhibition explores representation of celebrity, race, gender, class, power and empire, re-examining what a Hall of Fame might look like today.


Exploring the relevance of portraits today with Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery created their Power of the Portrait exhibition, by exploring themes of symbolism, status, identity and reason. Drawing on their own Collection and loans from the National Portrait Gallery, it includes 16th century oil paintings, sculpture, early photography and modern day ‘selfie’ portraits.


Celebrating contemporary Welsh identity with Glynn Vivian Art Gallery

When Glynn Vivian Art Gallery commissioned Wales-based photographers Mohamed Hassan and Megan Winstone to create new portraits around contemporary Welsh identity, they worked with local young people to decide who the sitters would be. These commissions were displayed alongside ten works selected from the National Portrait Gallery Collection. This film captures the importance of relevance and representation when building exhibitions and collections around portraits of the past, present and future.


Representing women and young people’s perspectives at Laing Art Gallery

The question of how to create displays which represent the society that we live in is central to how the Laing Art Gallery tackles the growth and curation of its collections. In this film, colleagues share their approaches for making this happen - from hanging works by the date they were acquired (rather than chronologically) and fore-fronting the work of women artists, to embracing the views of young people.

Co-production and collaborative practice


Exploring the value and legacy of co-production with The Box, Plymouth & Derby Museums

Colleagues from The Box and Derby Museums discuss the lessons learned through their respective co-produced exhibitions, how they work with members of the community across all ages and backgrounds and how grassroots activism has changed the collecting policies of institutions.


Representing young peoples' voices in galleries with The Laing Art Gallery

The Laing Art Gallery's young people’s group, L-INK come together to engage in the process of creative collaborations with the aim of co-curating the new Contemporary icons display. This film explores the representation of young peoples' voices in galleries and the value of including them at the Laing Art Gallery.


School students explore portraits through the National Skills Sharing Partnership Programme

The development of schools resources which connect people and place is explored through collaboration between teams at the National Portrait Gallery and Newstead Abbey. The film explores how this work has allowed further investigation into how young people understand and connect with portraiture.


Creating resources around new contemporary portrait commissions with The Beaney

As new portrait commissions of contemporary sitters go on display at The Beaney, a range of resources are created to highlight their arrival and support visitor engagement. This film tracks the next stage of the portraits’ journey as they enter The Beaney’s permanent collection, and shows how collaboration with colleagues at the National Portrait Gallery has helped shape opportunities for interpretation.  


Curating A Century of Style with Ulster Museum and the National Portrait Gallery

How can curators with different areas of expertise work together to curate exhibitions? The A Century of Style exhibition brings together images from the National Portrait Gallery's Collection by fashion photographers from the 1920s to the present day. This film tracks the learning and practice sharing that took place through the exhibition's development, such as the evolution of its themes including Designers, Model, Maker, Muse and Art and Fashion.


Celebrating Contemporary Welsh Identity with Glynn Vivian Art Gallery Part II – Working With Young People

Glynn Vivian's youth programme, Young Art Force, is an open art class which uses different materials and techniques to explore the Gallery's exhibitions and collection displays. In this film, colleagues at Glynn Vivian share their experiences in how they developed this youth programme and the importance of resources, outreach and encouragement.

Behind the scenes


Sharing approaches to storing artworks with Nottingham City Museums and Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

How we store artworks is vital not just for their conservation and care, but for their accessibility. This film takes us behind the scenes at Nottingham City Museums’ art store where a peer exchange with Northampton Museum and Art Gallery illuminates how effective storage can help preserve collections, enhance their potential to be placed on loan, and make them more accessible to wider audiences.


Using historic prints to extend display themes with Gainsborough's House

The Curatorial Intern from Gainsborough’s House discusses working on the Ignatius Sancho exhibition and a new stairwell display of historic prints, inspired by 18th century print rooms.

The stairwell display provides an example of the way in which the team have used the media of prints to build on and extend display themes throughout the historic house.


Portrait Miniatures Skill Sharing Workshop at the National Portrait Gallery

This film captures key elements of a skills sharing workshop dedicated to ways of conserving, caring for, and displaying portrait miniatures. Colleagues from the National Portrait Gallery and Compton Verney, and specialist Alan Derbyshire, share their experiences, alongside a deeper dive into best practice approaches when working with miniatures.


Marketing the exhibition Hogarth’s Britons with Derby Museums

Taking Hogarth’s Britons as an example, this film explores the kind of marketing campaigns which sit behind exhibitions such as press releases, social media campaigns and crowd funding. Colleagues at Derby Museums and the National Portrait Gallery discuss different approaches to tailoring marketing to local and national audiences. (The NPG was a lender to Hogarth’s Britons.)


What makes a great museum shop? with Compton Verney and Hay Castle

For many visitors, the museum, gallery or heritage site shop is an integral part of their visiting experience. Whether audiences are looking for a postcard, gift or seeking the perfect souvenir, the museum shop provides memories for our visitors, and a vital source of income for our organisations. This film captures practice sharing between colleagues at two very different sites, around the joys and challenges of retail in this environment. This film is an ART DOCS production.

Connecting people and places


Connecting to local and global events with Compton Verney

Compton Verney juxtapose works from the National Portrait Gallery alongside historic portraits from their own collection.

Themes drawn out through the display include that of the representation of local people and the connection between collections and their surroundings. The contrasting of works raises questions about who we choose to immortalise in portraiture collections.


Hay Castle Explores Connections to Cultural Festivals

To celebrate the redevelopment of Hay Castle, the Portrait of Writers exhibition was developed to connect with the town's celebrated literary festival. This film explores curatorial considerations in developing the exhibition, how Hay Castle collaborated with Hay Festival and how a venue without a permanent collection can connect to local events to inform exhibition programming.


Working with the Print Workshop at Gainsborough’s House

The print workshop at Gainsborough's House provides an exceptional insight into how Gainsborough worked. This film shows how experimenting with different printmaking techniques can give visitors, groups and colleagues an awareness and appreciation of Gainsborough's creative processes from a completely new perspective. This unique resource also offers opportunities for artist residencies, and a model for sustainable income generation.


Exploring Spotlight Loans with The Box, Plymouth

The Box takes us through the 100 Journeys gallery, which explores Plymouth’s role as the starting point for some of the world's most famous expeditions and voyages. This film explores how colleagues at The Box worked with the National Portrait Gallery’s collection to develop a display methodology which explores narratives with contemporary relevance of both global and local significance.


Supporting staff and visitors engaging with the Troubles and Beyond exhibition at Ulster Museum

This film shares Ulster Museum's approaches to training staff to support audiences in engaging with exhibitions and displays which are of a sensitive or difficult nature. It also explores the importance of working closely with communities over long periods of time to represent different voices and perspectives around complex, recent histories.


Artists in Residence at the Watts Gallery - Artists' Village: Habib Hajallie's A British Hall of Fame

This film explores how artist residencies can be of most benefit to both artists and galleries. Artist Habib Hajallie’s work explores themes of identity, representation and Britishness. During his residency at the Watts Gallery, he responded to portraits on display to create his most ambitious work to date, A British Hall of Fame. This included exploring the Faces of Fame exhibition which combined works from the Watts Gallery with photographic portraits from Simon Frederick’s Black is the New Black series, loaned from the National Portrait Gallery.