So far.

I have decided to become a volunteer on my second year of university. I am studying history of art and I am interested in every aspect of “behind-the-scenes” of art institutions. When I made this decision I started doing my research for placements on-line and (like a sign from Heaven) Victoria and Albert Museum was looking for Front-of-House volunteers, and it was last day of recruitment (I know, right?). In rush, I have sent my CV hoping for miracle, which happened a couple weeks later when I received an email inviting me to a group interview. After a group interview I got an email another couple weeks later telling me that I had been successful. I then attended training and this is how my adventure with V&A started – in a several sentences.

After so many months I still remember my first few shifts at V&A. I am not a very confident person and I was scared to death that I might ruin something, give the wrong answer, not being friendly enough and generally that everything I might do would be good enough. I had no idea what I was doing. Of course, I had attended the training, where I met members of staff and more experienced volunteers, which prepared me well for that role but still, at the back of my head that idea still existed. I soon realised how wrong I was. The staff and other volunteers were very friendly and expressed understanding of my position (after all, everybody had first day at some point).

On my first day, I came to the building couple minutes before my shifts started. At first I have met the fellow volunteers and supervisors who helped me to go thought the day. I got information about basic facilities for staff, where the lockers to leave my bag and coat are and where I can get a drink and some food if I need to. I gained also knowledge about what are the main things I need to know, which sort of depends of what is your position on the day. I am currently working behind the desk at Main Entrance, so I have a luck and cheat a little by using computer to search my answers sometimes (because why not?).
Every time I am at the V&A I am lucky to meet and talk to people who are interested (like me) in various types of arts and designs. Every time I learn more and more not only about the way that the museum works but also about, sometimes ridiculous, stories behind the objects or beings their represent.

After 6 months at Victoria and Albert Museum, for me, personally, I have gained way more confidence. I am not afraid of talking to visitors who sometimes can tell you stories from their life. For example (my favourite!!!) – an ex-pilot who was flying from USA to Cairo as a courier in 70’s and 80’s came to the museum. He mentioned the stories about his journeys and travels around Cairo when he had a break from work, all together for about the hour. At one of his journeys he had a chance to meet group of archaeologist who were about to rediscovered one of the pyramids. This man joined the group and had a pleasure to be one of very few people to get into the pyramid (first time from 3000 years!!!) before all of the archaeologist works. I am at V&A every week only for 3,5 hours every week but so far I love atmosphere and experience itself. In these short shifts, as well as building my self-esteem I also increase my knowledge about the way that museum works which helps me in my personal research. I have met new friends.

I am waiting for more to come.

One thought on “So far.

birgitta roon:

As a fellow volunteer I can wholeheartedly agree with your post, Laura. My Thursday mornings are treasured and no matter what mood I am in when I arrive at the museum, I ALWAYS walk out serene, uplifted and ready to tackle any challenge the day will throw me. The friendly volunteers and staff makes it all worthwhile, not to mention all the lovely visitors who are so greatful to have someone to turn to in case they need directions or advice. It is a huge pleasure to be part of the team.

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