The De Morgan Foundation's Valuable Volunteers

This week (1st – 7th June) is Volunteers’ Week, an annual event celebrating the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK. As a small institution, we rely on our dedicated group of volunteers to keep the Foundation running smoothly. Our trusty helpers perform a wide range of tasks, and we’d like to take a little time today to highlight some important activities that couldn’t take place without their help.

 

Online Catalogue

The De Morgan Foundation owns 56 framed oil paintings, over 1000 pieces of ceramics and even more drawings and sketches, and one of our principal aims is to make these collections as accessible as possible through our Online Collections Search. Several volunteers have been adding objects from our collection over the last year, concentrating principally on Evelyn De Morgan’s drawings to complement our temporary exhibition programme. They are now working on adding more of William’s ceramics. This is a great way to discover objects that aren’t on display, and it is a lengthy task, so we’re very grateful to those who have been helping us out!

Shop

We find visitors always have a kind word to say about our shop, and we owe a lot of that to our experienced retail volunteer. She works hard to not only keep our gallery shop looking great, but also to source new products, making sure that the items we stock are relevant, sympathetic to the De Morgans’ styles, and do their work justice. You can see some of our most popular items in our online shop.

Archives

We’re currently in the process of auditing and repacking our archives and ensuring they all have up to date catalogue entries. With over 700 items in our archive, this is no mean feat, and we’ve had two volunteers working hard to make sure that every last letter and photograph has a detailed entry on our database. In the process, we’ve discovered some real gems – find out more in our From The Archive blog series.

Men in Pants

Our current temporary exhibition, Men in Pants, is the culmination of months of hard work from several dedicated volunteers. We welcomed John Swarbrooke for several months last summer. A recent Courtauld graduate, he spent many hours researching and scouring our archives and library to help create a narrative for the exhibition, and contributed to writing the text panels. You can read more about his experience here.

We’ve also had a dedicated duo working on cataloguing our collection of Evelyn’s drawings, and matching compositional studies and sketches to finished oil paintings. Their work proved invaluable for this exhibition, and will also serve us fantastically in the future. We have over 1000 drawings by Evelyn and it is fascinating to be able to link them together and develop an idea of her creative process.

Education

Our Education volunteer Sarah has worked wonders at the Centre since joining us a year ago. Kicking off her work by conducting a focus group with teachers from local schools, she has gone on to develop some amazing educational resources and lead Big Draw workshops and school visits. She is currently working on an education exhibition proposal and outreach resources. You can read Sarah’s educational interpretation of Evelyn De Morgan’s painting Cassandra here.

 

                                       

            Volunteer Eileen and Museum Officer Emma tackling a tricky installation

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Our volunteers dust and clean objects, update our website, help host events, and provide a near-constant supply of biscuits and tea, which is essential to the workings of any museum. Without them, we simply couldn’t provide the same level of service and quality experience to our visitors. They are a skilled, enthusiastic, friendly group of people and they inject energy into our jobs. Volunteers of the De Morgan Foundation, we thank you!

Emma Coleman, Museum Officer