The Warkworth District Museum was set up in 1980 by a group of volunteers and today it still relies on volunteers to keep it going.
“Without the volunteers, the museum would not exist. They put a phenomenal amount of time and effort into the success of the museum,” manager and curator Victoria Joule says.
Victoria is one of only two part-time paid staff, along with the treasurer. Her role includes receiving and recording new items into the collection, arranging new displays, ensuring policies and processes are in accordance with modern museum standards, ordering stationery, arranging advertising, and buying milk for the volunteers’ morning tea.
The rest of the museum is staffed by 80 volunteers.
Their roles are incredibly varied, and include meeting and greeting at reception, organising displays, restoring machinery, maintenance, archiving, textile maintenance and restoration, education, computer cataloguing, administration, fundraising, gardening, committee work and making morning tea on ‘volunteer Wednesday’. Most of the volunteers are organised and supported by heads of department for each area.
“Everyone plays a really important role in both the survival and success of the museum and we are very lucky to have them,” Victoria says.
She says many of the volunteers join to provide a community service, because they care about preserving history and documentation of the district, and like to see the enjoyment of the visitors.
The museum is continuously looking to increase visitor numbers, especially return visitors and locals. They are also looking for more people to be involved in community-based programmes, including school groups.
“We are a community museum and I would like to see us visited and used by our community,” Victoria says.
She says the museum is always looking for more volunteers but it currently needs more help on reception in particular.
“They are the face of the museum, without them we wouldn’t be able to open the doors so they play a crucial role in our operation.”
One volunteer on reception, Helen Langdon, joined four years ago after retiring and moving to the area. She wanted to get to know about local history and to meet people.
She now helps organise the roster of at least 40 volunteers who contribute half a day each. She says her skills as an administrator have come in handy, but the main requirement for the role is to be interested in people and have a general knowledge of the area.
“It’s not an onerous job. It helps keep the mind stimulated, it’s not just sitting there looking decorative,” she says.
She also convinced her husband Brian, a former heating and ventilation engineer, to join the museum team as well, and he is now volunteering in ‘the shed’.
“The people here are a friendly bunch. We have met a lot of people and made some good friends.”
Can you help?
Warkworth Museum is always looking for a wide range of people with different skills. They are specifically looking for volunteers for reception to be the face of the museum. They need to have the ability to meet and greet the visitors, be confident in handling money and using the till and Eftpos machines. Contact email@example.com