Thursday, 26 March 2015

Independent Project: Training Volunteers - Hannah Eastwood

The idea for my independent project has stemmed from my experience with my own career progression. My final placement is based in the joint museums volunteer & outreach office, which is where I fondly remember becoming a volunteer with the Oxford University museums & collections 6 years ago! 

As our final project is to be relevant to the work of our placement, I discussed the idea with my project coordinator and the head of the joint office to develop some training sessions for volunteers. 

Being in the joint office which covers all of the 4 museum’s collections I had the opportunity to choose which collection I would carry out my training in.In the end I decided to offer a training session for people who volunteer, or who would like to volunteer, at the Ashmolean

The focus will be to inform the volunteers about the Western Art paintings collection and to equip them with some basic knowledge and confidence to engage visitors with key paintings from the Ashmolean, and be able to explain their place in art history in general.  

Hannah preparing resources for her project

The subject of Art and more specifically painting is one which strikes people personally in many different ways. Some feel confident in their knowledge of art history as they have pursued this as a career choice or leisure activity but to most it would appear that you would need an art-history degree to ‘get’ what you are seeing. Questions might arise such as: why is an old painting of a woman smiling the most famous image in the world? How can one of the most acclaimed and most famous painters fail to sell a single work in his lifetime? Why do paintings of coloured squares sell for millions of dollars? These questions are all perfectly legitimate in the face of medium that can seem inaccessible. 

However by the end of this training session I hope that the volunteers will have fostered an understanding and an enthusiasm for elements of this erratic and fascinating art form.

The training will fit in with the volunteer services programme of introductions to each of the museums, to help build volunteers’ confidence in welcoming visitors and having some general background information to share. I hope the training I produce will have a longstanding legacy which could be used in the future, but more importantly, will be enjoyable and useful for the volunteers themselves!

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