Viva Volunteers!

Alice facepaintingThey sort, they scan, they stick, they smile: who are they? Our team of brilliant Collections and Public Engagement Volunteers of course! This week has been the 30th anniversary of Volunteers’ Week, so we wanted to put the spotlight on them…

The majority of our volunteers help with public events, particularly those for our family audience. In 2014 alone, our awesome team of volunteers have given the Museum over 1500 hours of their time to help with public engagement events. This includes painting children’s faces, like the wonderful Alice Wilby (above), leading tours of the Museum’s architecture and running a pub quiz at one of our late night events. IMG_1322

On top of that, we have a team working away behind the scenes supporting our collections staff. Here’s just a sample of the projects they’ve been working on this week…

Laura Cotton in the Earth Collections.
Laura Cotton in the Earth Collections.

– 5 volunteers identifying butterflies from painted images in our Archival Collections.
– 1 volunteer working in the Life Collections sorting and cataloguing bones.
– 4 volunteers tucked away in the Earth Collections cleaning ancient horse fossils or sorting Jurassic fish teeth.

Simone Dogherty is the Museum’s Education Assistant and co-ordinator of Science Saturdays – a weekly family event aimed at older children and led entirely by volunteer scientists. So why does she think volunteers are so valuable?

We’re very lucky here to have such a large quantity and high quality of volunteers. They help us with a huge range of activities and with the increase in visitor numbers that the Museum has been experiencing since re-opening in February, I just don’t know how we’d cope without them.
For Science Saturdays we use volunteers with a specific expertise. This gives children access to enthusiastic and inspiring individuals that they can look up to. And, in return, the volunteers gain valuable science communication skills.

Fancy joining our merry band of volunteers? Whether you’re into making masks or dusting off molluscs, we need you! You can simply sign up to help out on our Volunteers website.

But what’s in it for you? Aside from the glow of knowing you’ve simply helped us do more, you can develop your confidence when working with the public, learn a new skill or get up close with the treasures stashed away behind the scenes. But that’s forgetting the most important part – you’d be joining a fantastic team of people who, like you, think this museum is a pretty exciting place to be!

Rachel Parle, Interpretation and Education Officer

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More than a Dodo

I'm Public Engagement Manager at Oxford University Museum of Natural History and I look after permanent displays and other interpretation. I do a bit of social media on the side, too.

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