Volunteers’ Week: Meet Our Team
1 – 7 June is Volunteers’ Week, an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. The Soane has its own group of dedicated and hand-working volunteers whose contribution is vital to the day-to-day running of the Museum. To mark Volunteer’s Week, this year seeing its 30th anniversary, some of our Volunteer Team explain what it’s like working at the Soane.
Markand Patel, Conservation Volunteer
Why do you volunteer at the Soane Museum? Volunteering at the Soane museum is a little like feeding the soul for me. It is one the most unique museums in Britain if not the world. I enjoy the idea of giving my time to something that began before me and will be there long after I have shuffled off this mortal coil. It has been an incredible learning experience that I am now balancing with a masters course in Museum Studies, mixing the theory I am learning from the course and applying it the practical setting of the museum. The opportunity to learn from one of the most eclectic museums in the world will stand me in good stead in terms of forging a career in the industry.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering? The opportunity to be a part of something that began in the 19th century, housing objects and artefacts from the ancient to the modern, is a privilege. This past year has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, getting to know the staff, warders and other volunteers, as well as the history of the building and the many objects held within. Most recently I had the pleasure of helping put the Turner painting back in its place in the North Drawing following its return from loan at the National Maritime Museum. It was such a valuable learning experience!
Would you recommend volunteering to others? I would most definitely recommend volunteering to others; to be a part something bigger than yourself, something you are passionate about; interacting with objects from our past, learning from other volunteers and staff, being surrounded by history of the world and sharing that past with visitors and tourists is a rewarding feeling. I would recommend volunteering to the younger generation or indeed anyone with an interest in museums and would say it’s the best way to build towards your chosen career.
Carolyn-Ann Ford, Retail Volunteer
Why do you volunteer at the Soane Museum? I love the opportunity to add to the visitor experience at the Museum
What do you enjoy most about volunteering? I like to ask visitors what they particularly enjoyed about the museum, and what their favourite part was and so on. Very often they will tell me without prompting and even ask a few other questions about the collection. I really enjoy speaking to the many visitors who, when they come into the shop, really want to share their impressions of the Museum and their delight at the extraordinary nature of Sir John Soane's house!
Would you recommend volunteering to others? Yes. If you want do something positive and unusual with any free time you may have, then VOLUNTEER! Sign up to help with something you enjoy!
Jeremy Brown, Warder Volunteer
Why do you volunteer at the Soane Museum? I visited the Soane Museum as part of my degree, and I was so fascinated by the many curiosities in his house that I had to come back and help out!
What do you most enjoy about your volunteering? Each object in the house has its own weird or wonderful story, every time I volunteer I discover something new. And as a volunteer, you have the pleasure of passing on those stories to the visitors.
Would you recommend volunteering to others? Absolutely. Volunteering in museums is a great way to build useful career skills and to find out about different aspects of art and history.
Pam Gray, Development Team Volunteer
Why do you volunteer at the Soane Museum? Because it is an inspirational & visually stunning museum. It is a totally unique place to work
What do you most enjoy about your volunteering? Just being there & knowing I am contributing to the workings of the Museum, even in a small way
Would you recommend volunteering to others? Yes! Not least because the health benefits of volunteering have been recognised. And for me it has made rather mundane part time paid work bearable as the volunteering is so much more satisfying!
Sophie Steel, Childrens' Education Volunteer
Why do you volunteer at the Soane? - The Soane is a great museum that is a hidden gem in London. Volunteering here is all about making the collection accessible to others, and encouraging them to appreciate and understand the museum. As a childrens' education volunteer, the collection inspires so many art projects, all of which allow children to learn in a fun environment, without feeling like they are learning at all!
What do you enjoy most about your volunteering? The end of the day when parents arrive to pick up their children from workshops - their faces are plastered with smiles and they are desperate to show off the work they have made!
Would you recommend volunteering to others? Most definitely - it is so nice to escape normal day-to-day life every now and then!