Volunteers Newsletter - Autumn 2015

Volunteer Assistant Sarah Sidgwick with volunteer Vicky Dawes © Museums Sheffield

Welcome all to the autumn 2015 volunteer newsletter.

As this is also my first newsletter as the new Volunteers Assistant, I’d firstly like to say a big “hello!”, and tell you how much I’ve already enjoyed working with you all over the last few months.

I’ve been so impressed with how keen and interested so many volunteers are in contributing to and helping us at Museums Sheffield with all sorts of tasks and projects. In fact, we’re delighted to say that over the last 12 months, 177 volunteers have contributed a total of 5421 hours, with an average of 451 hours from 48 volunteers each month. These hours really add up, and provide the equivalent of nearly three full-time positions, an incredible contribution to our work across the organisation – so thank you all so much.

In this edition of the newsletter, find out more about the I Love My Museum £1million appeal for Weston Park, and the changes that we’re hoping to make through this project. We’ll also be looking at the great work that volunteers have done towards the re-display of our internationally renowned metalwork collection, and the transcription of a Victorian scientist’s diary spanning 50 years. You’ll also find details of our ongoing volunteer opportunities, and finally, what do you think of the volunteer homepage? Feedback welcome!

As ever, huge thanks from both Caroline and I for your wonderful efforts in all aspects of the organisation. You can find out more about events, news, and opportunities from the volunteer home page, or please do get in touch if I can help with anything at all – I’d love to hear from you.

Sarah Sidgwick
Volunteers Assistant 


I Love My Museum - £1million appeal   

Snowy the polar bear and Donations and Grants Officer Cat Dale Back in February, we launched our I Love My Museum £1million appeal for Weston Park Museum. The money raised will go towards total refurbishment of the History Lab and About Art galleries, allowing us to showcase more of Sheffield’s wonderful collections in a number of changing displays. This will also enable us to offer more curatorial volunteering, including research, taking out current exhibits, and preparing new ones to display. Additionally, we’ll be working with different community groups throughout the city, and developing a series of new trails and workshops – plenty for volunteers to get involved with.

So far, we’ve had 158 hours of bucket rattling, event assistance, sign painting, and help at family activities from 41 volunteers. In just the first three months of the appeal, public donations alone raised almost £10,000.   This included several very generous postal donations following the last series of school holiday bucket-rattling and badge-selling. Even if people don’t donate on the day, having that presence in the foyer really can make a difference, so many thanks to volunteers who helped out with the fundraising, and particularly those who dressed up as Snowy the polar bear!


Metalwork collection re-display 

Volunteers helping with metalwork redisplayFor three weeks in May, volunteers were at Millennium Gallery every day to help our curators re-display Sheffield’s internationally-renowned metalwork collection. 19 volunteers gave almost 150 hours of their time to help unpack, polish, clean and re-display this brilliant collection. Particular thanks to volunteer George Evans who has also been busy helping our tech team to construct mounts for the new gallery, and building upwards of 50 mounts himself, each one customised to display a specific metalwork object to its fullest potential. Over the last 12 years, a number of projects have worked towards improving the condition, storage, documentation and interpretation of the metalwork collection. During this time, new objects have been acquired, peoples’ stories recorded, and new knowledge of the industry captured. The newly re-designed gallery will allow us to share this information and to interpret the collection in a new light.


The diaries of Henry Clifton Sorby, Victorian scientist

Henry Clifton Sorby diary extractWhen Curator of Natural Sciences, Alistair McLean, found himself with over a thousand pages of Henry Clifton Sorby’s diaries from the 1800s, finding the time to transcribe these pages seemed like an impossible task. Amazingly, thanks to a heroic effort from 40 volunteers, all of the diaries from this little known but influential Victorian scientist have now been transcribed. We’ve heard of Sorby’s pioneering scientific techniques, his vast amount of walking around Sheffield, and trips on his yacht – as well as his medical maladies and pestering from family members! Huge thanks to all the volunteers who have worked so diligently to decipher and type-up the diary sections.  The ultimate aim of this task is for the diaries – or at least extracts thereof – to be published as part of the Sorby Natural History Society centenary in 2018. 


Volunteer2/Better Impact – feedback wanted!

One of my roles as Volunteers Assistant is to keep the Volunteer Database (now Better Impact, formerly Volunteer2) up-to-date and accurate. I’m still getting to grips with it myself, but there are a few places where I think we could improve. However, as the users, it’s really important to get your feedback as well. So if you have any issues with the site at all, please do let me know and I’ll see if there’s anything we can do get them resolved. Whether you’re struggling with the process of signing up for activities or logging hours, or if you find a particular process clunky and unhelpful, I’d be grateful for any feedback – I’m certainly still learning myself, but happy to discuss any issues you might have.


Ongoing volunteer opportunities

As well as the volunteer roles that crop up when our curators and other staff need some extra help, we always have the following roles for volunteers interested in working with visitors and school groups. You can sign up for these sessions whenever you like, using the volunteer homepage:

  • School sessions

 From printing and pattern to the history of toys, and covering early years to GCSE classes, there are lots of opportunities for volunteers to get involved with the learning team. The schedule is updated with new school bookings every Monday morning.

  • Handling tables

A big thank you to the 32 volunteers who have delivered object handling demonstrations so far this year – between you, you’ve provided a whopping 205 hours of handling time for members of the public.  We’re keen to see the handling tables get better and better, and would be interested to hear any feedback you have – what works well, and what do you think needs improvement?

Object handling sessions are available whenever you are, but a short training session is needed beforehand.  If you haven’t done the handling tables before, but might like to give it a go, just e-mail either of us, and we’ll set you up with some training. 

 

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