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New exhibition celebrates museum's volunteers

19 January 2017

A new exhibition opened at Preston Park Museum this week celebrating its 200 dedicated volunteers and the important role they play in bringing the attraction to life.

Image of Preston park volunteers

The 'At the Heart of the Museum' exhibition - free with museum admission - is on show until April and is full of interesting items, facts and stories.

It pays tribute to members of the museum's dedicated volunteer team, who give hundreds of hours a week to support the museum.

Councillor Norma Wilburn, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, said: "Our volunteers are at the heart of Preston Park Museum and this new exhibition tells the story of those who have donated, and continue to donate, their time so freely, ensuring that such a vibrant, unique and valuable place continues to thrive.

"It is fantastic to see that new volunteers aged 18 to 85 are enrolling every year. We hope to continue providing a friendly place for people to come and learn new skills, make new friends and feel a part of a community that makes a difference."

Volunteers play a key role throughout the attraction - in the garden, the galleries, in costume, in shops, knitting, sewing, cataloguing, cleaning, teaching, and building props.

They have welcomed 770,000 visitors since 2012 so you have most likely met one, perhaps in the galleries, the Walled Kitchen Garden or dressed in Victorian costume on the replica Victorian Street.

However, many also work behind the scenes building props for events such as The Great British Holiday and decorating the street with their wonderful creations.
There's also a dedicated group of volunteers that help to care for and document the museum's vast collection, both on display and in stores. They painstakingly cleaned over 3,000 objects whilst the museum was going through redevelopment work and regular housekeeping continues weekly.

In return the museum provides an opportunity to be part of a friendly community, a place to pursue passions and learn new skills. It's also proven to be a career springboard, with the volunteer alumni moving on to jobs at mima, Disney, Durham Cathedral and the Royal Opera House.

The 'At the Heart of the Museum' exhibition is part of the museum's Community Curated programme, which provides the opportunity for organised groups to create their own display of objects and archives.

It is full of interesting facts - for example, did you know the costumes worn by the volunteers on the Victorian Street were originally worn at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games? And that volunteers have sold approximately 2.4 tonnes of sweets in the Sweet Shop? That's the equivalent to the weight of an elephant!

If you are interested at becoming a volunteer at Preston Park Museum visit Preston Park Museum and Grounds website