As part of my pledge to visit 25 museums in 25 weeks, I visited Jewish Museum London.
I was beginning my route around the History: A British Story gallery, when I heard a little voice behind me, “hello, would you like me to show you round?” I was shown around by a lovely, passionate, knowledgeable, engaging volunteer called Maureen Moses. What struck me about the tour was the sheer love. The love of the museum and the love of the content. I used to volunteer at the Manchester Jewish Museum, for a fair few years, so I’ve given my fair share of tours. While I was aware of what might have been the ‘official tour script’ and what was her own personal, fascinating tangent anecdotes and knowledge, it blended seamlessly.
Volunteering is a bizarre concept, when you think about it, working for free. But volunteering in the museum sector especially is such a core centre to the front of house visitor engagement for many museums, big and small. While not undermining the volunteer sector of other industries, museums have such a strong relationship with volunteering as an ideal and a strong expertise of putting it into practice. Unfortunately, this is of course increasingly due to necessity.
#Volunteersweek is an annual celebration of the work of volunteers, this year taking place between the 1st-12th of June. Both Volunteers Week and my visit to Jewish Museum today has made me acutely proud that I have been in the past, and still am, a museum volunteer. For the sheer love of it.