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Burrell Collection launches drive for volunteers including those with dementia

The Burrell Collection is undergoing a major redevelopment

As the Burrell Collection in Glasgow nears its reopening in March 2022, following a £68m refurbishment, it has launched a recruitment campaign with innovative volunteering opportunities for local people.

The 9,000 strong collection, donated to the City of Glasgow by shipping merchant and art collector Sir William Burrell (1861-1958) in 1944, is representative of his lifelong passion for art and history. The museum fulfils his wish that it remain in the city after his death.

Family groups and people with dementia

For the first time Glasgow Life, the charity that manages the museum, is inviting families to volunteer as a group.

This aim it says is to open up the benefits of volunteering to young people, which: “Nurtures a greater connection between the collection and the next generation of visitors and removes the need for childcare for those adults who wish to participate.”

Other initiatives designed to enable older or less mobile people keen to volunteer are also being explored. These include having volunteers stationed at an artwork of interest rather than moving through the museum or introducing a buddy system that would allow people with dementia to continue to be involved in volunteering.

The Burrell Collection is also keen to hear from those for whom English is a second language.

Greater local community links

“The entire philosophy underpinning the £68.25m refurbishment is to foster greater links between local communities and the exquisite collection, which belongs to the people of Glasgow,” the museum said.

“New displays offer enhanced digital interpretation in several languages widely spoken in Glasgow, including BSL. By offering guided tours in different languages it is hoped many more people will feel the museum is a place for them and a space they can engage with and enjoy.”

Those who volunteered at the Burrell before it closed for refurbishment in the summer of 2018 and want to continue when it reopens are being invited back for training and to reacquaint themselves with a much-loved museum.

These include John Rattenbury, Volunteer Guide Organiser for The Burrell Collection, who said: “With only a few months to go there is great excitement and enthusiasm for the opening of our ‘new’ world class museum.

‘Wonderful place to volunteer’

“It is a wonderful place to volunteer, and as a guide, it is an enormous pleasure to chat with visitors and seek to bring the wonderful objects in the collection to life for them. I would encourage anyone who has an hour or more to spare to find out more notwithstanding your current knowledge.”

Initially the volunteer recruitment campaign is hoping to recruit 50 volunteers, who will commence a six-week training programme in February and March 2022.

Additional opportunities will be available after the museum reopens in March 2022.

Interested in how museums can develop programmes for people with Dementia, read this article.

About the author – Adrian Murphy

Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.

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