by Hudi Charin, participation volunteer
If you have ever visited Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, you will be familiar with what some of our volunteers do. Many are involved with welcoming visitors and introducing them to what’s on.
Here’s a chance to get to know some of our volunteers better, and see what else they have been involved with at the museum.
Michelle’s passion for history drove her to join the volunteering team in August 2017, to allow her to spend more time in the museum, surrounded by the collections she loves.
Michelle mainly works with the Operations team on the ground floor assisting visitors as they enter the museum. Her favourite piece in the museum is La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Frank Dicksee. The Pre-Raphaelite painting is one of the most famous in the collection.
The museum shop sells bags on which the painting is printed and Michelle has had her eye on them for a while, hoping her husband’s been picking up the hints she has been dropping for her next birthday!
She’s interested in how every visitor to the museum is drawn to something different. She personally would recommend spending more time with the Bristol Tapestry which is a spectacular ‘stitch in time,’ tracing the history of the city in beautiful detail, and perhaps doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
Luke has been volunteering with the museum for a few months after he completed an apprenticeship in Work Environments. He thinks volunteering is important for developing skills in discussion and explaining to others.
His roll mainly involves walking around the galleries and helping visitors by answering questions. Although he finds it hard to choose, he’d say one his favourite pieces in the museum is the Dodo taxidermy on display in the Wildlife gallery.
Des worked at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery for ten years before retiring but returned as a volunteer when he realised how much he missed it.
He is involved in spending time in the galleries, helping visitors and answering questions. He says he enjoys speaking with the wide range of visitors the museum receives. Particularly after his retirement, Des has said volunteering is important to him to continue to broaden his social horizons and keep the brain active.
His favourite paintings are in the Old Master’s gallery which boasts prestigious works by Lucas Cranach and Giovanni Bellini. Des has a particular interest in Bristol’s history, and has even published a book on the subject.
His book Bring on the Blacks (published in April 2017) deals with the tension in Bristol at the time of the 1963 bus boycott, told from the point of view of Dabber, a young white bus conductor.
Des thinks the Bristol school of paintings is a particularly interesting area of the museum because of the insight it provides into the last few centuries of the city’s history.
Des is clearly an intrigued mind, just as happy to learn more himself and to teach others.
Anna Morrell and Kasey Ledger
Anna and Kasey have recently joined the Graphics department, working on digital projects from signs, screens and graphics around the museum to creating teaching resources.
They say volunteering is useful for gaining valuable experience in the sector. Kasey laughs as she describes one of her favourite attractions, the giant deer on display in the Wildlife gallery.
She also thinks the collections in the Assyria rooms are becoming increasingly relevant and important due to Isil’s destruction of the remaining artefacts in Syria today.
One of Anna’s favourite areas of the museum is the animals, and she thinks the interactive Pliosaurus! exhibition has been great in bringing children into the museum.
And then there’s me! I am a second year History of Art student at the University of Bristol and volunteer with the Participation team on a weekly basis.
I have been involved in blog posts, using social media and reporting on the museum’s outreach with groups such as young immigrants to the city. It’s been a great way to learn more about the workings of museums and all the different events that go on here.
I love wandering around the museum, as there always seems to be something new to see. I’d have to say my favourite gallery is the fairy-tale-like Pre-Raphaelite room, particularly The Guarded Bower by Arthur Hughes.