I volunteer because I was bitten by the volunteering bug volunteering at another museum; it was being able to participate in museum tasks, events and helping staff that bit me.
I enjoy answering visitor questions and listening to visitors who feel compelled to speak about their memories and visits. I also enjoy taking ownership and giving a talk at Barber Surgeon handling table.
For me a standard day starts with a short natter with other volunteers, maybe over a tea or coffee as they arrive and ready themselves for the staff/volunteer daily briefing which brings us all up to date with what to expect and what will be happening during the day during which I will find out what is planned for me. When the museum opens I am in a gallery with 1-2 other volunteers making ourselves available to visitors giving answers, info, directions and reporting any issues to staff that may arise and have also get time for a morning tea break. Midday I will take my lunch break and be back in a Gallery making myself available to visitors, I may take ownership of a handling table if the opportunity arises, I’ve done this many times so I now take a back seat to allow new volunteers their chance. After an afternoon tea break I’m heading home later.
Retirement. When the euphoria of not going to work every day dies down, many people are a bit lost how to fruitfully spend these long-anticipated days of leisure. Volunteering is a most fulfilling new pastime.
I joined the team of Mary Rose volunteers about five years ago knowing nothing much about the ship or its’ history. Since then, I've learned a lot, made new friends and enjoyed offering visitors either a short explanation or a guided tour. It's a privilege to be associated with a world-class museum. Something I look forward to every week.
I've loved my time here interacting with all the different people, liaising with the dockyard artist, and get to know and learn about the Mary Rose artefacts, people involved over the years, and standing in the ship hall with the ship was amazing.
I volunteer for two reasons; the first is to gain experience in a field that I want to build a career in, and the second is to learn more about different areas of history which I wouldn’t normally research. As a Collections Volunteer I help digitise the collection, primarily by scanning photographs. What I enjoy about volunteering at the Mary Rose is the atmosphere, the people, and the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes and learn not only the history of the ship but of the museum as well. I have volunteered here for four and a half years and have loved it.
I feel particularly attached to the Mary Rose Museum (it’s a truly special building, an almost perfect balance between form and function, and a space that could house nothing other than the Mary Rose ship), but there’s an excitement within me that spreads on a Monday, when I enter the dockyard and take a right rather than continuing onwards. I pass through the two brick pillars standing sentry, past the Porter’s Garden until, instead of that curious pitch-black oyster, I’m greeted by an unassuming front door. I walk through it, still shiny with paint, and ready myself for another day spent lost in the archives.
I volunteer because I enjoy it, and because I continue to learn new things about the Mary Rose and her conservation with each visit. At the moment, I’m enjoying looking through the battered volumes of Archaeology of the Mary Rose and meeting all the fascinating, esoteric sailing terms that evolved from this island with salty edges. I like visiting the museum to see the artefacts anew, to identify them from their muddy excavation images, when their bodies were heavy with sediment. I like when we get a run of Tudor armaments records, as the bulbous hilt of a ballock dagger still makes me smile (and there are a lot in the collection). I’m also aware of the responsibility we have to make this unique archive accessible to the public, and I am proud that the collections volunteer team are assisting with this mammoth task.
To date, we’ve digitised nearly 75,000 images, which is incredible. We begin the day by looking over any notes from the previous week and check through recent additions to the server. Currently, we’re primarily scanning 35mm film strips: we record the numbering of each image on a tracker sheet, carefully clean the strips and then mount them in their case. Scanning of 35mm often takes around 30 minutes, so during that time you continue to check through previous scans to ensure the images are clean and correctly rotated. I’ll then take a look through the Collections inhouse library in the remaining time. Once the strips are scanned, we check them for any contamination or skips, label them appropriately, rotate them, and then add them to the main server.
Whether it’s helping with family workshops, delivering guided tour, assisting our education team with schools or answering questions for visitors, we have a wide range of roles available.