Volunteer Story: Peter
“I am discovering that Museums Sheffield is a lively, complex, and diverse organisation”
I retired from the University of York in 2015, having been a professor of econometrics, and moved home to Sheffield. My wife, Helen, and I have been looking after Daniel, now aged four, one day a week ever since, and it was finding entertainments for him that led me to Weston Park Museum soon after he learned to walk. The museum was a revelation: happy and excited children learning while being entertained, older visitors reflecting on the city’s past, aided by cheerful and engaged staff. On our second visit I decided to find a way to contribute to this splendid enterprise, so took up the offer of joining the volunteer team.
I enjoy meeting people, so I help with the rolling visitor survey, roughly two hours per week throughout the year. Dividing my time between the Graves Gallery and Weston Park gives me the opportunity to learn about the fine art collection, and the history of Sheffield. I have little or no background in the visual arts, social and cultural history, or archaeology, let alone in matters relating to Sheffield itself, and I don’t like having to confess my ignorance, so what better way is there to motivate my own learning?! When responding to the survey questions, many visitors like to share with me their or their children’s reactions to the exhibits, or thoughts on life in general, and this experience has been a great way for me to enrich my connection to the city that is now my home.
In my professional life, I was accustomed to editing written material to eliminate errors and improve economy and clarity. This skill can be put to use in the museums, so I also do some proofreading when it comes my way. Doing this work helps satisfy my need to promote accuracy and consistency in written documents, and is also highly enjoyable.
I am discovering that Museums Sheffield is a lively, complex, and diverse organisation. I value its actual and potential impact on the city’s cultural life very highly, and look forward in future to contributing to its success in ways that stretch my own skills and understanding.