Caroline Swain, Ulster Museum

Some of our volunteers have told us about their experiences with National Museums NI. Find out what they've learnt and what they enjoy most about volunteering with us.

Caroline-Swain-UM-Volunteer-175x250Tell us about yourself in no more than 50 words

Hello!  I work in the NHS, managing administration and information for mental health services.  I am also studying with the Open University - that started as Art History, but is an open degree, so who knows where it will go?  I love gardening, films, reading, the great outdoors, and spending time with friends and family:)

What volunteering are you involved in with National Museums NI?

I help Charlotte MacReynolds, Curator of Art, store and record items in the Fashion Collection.

How did you hear about the role and why did you apply?

I saw a tweet from David Tosh.  I had been a volunteer with The MAC theatre for five years previously, but since I started studying with the Open University I had less free time in the evenings.  I still wanted to contribute and also (given my day job) thought the Museum would be a calmer, quieter, place to work than my usual environment.

Have you learnt anything new about National Museums NI that you didn’t know before?

Lots!  I did not realise the amount of conservation and research that goes on behind the scenes, or the level of community outreach and teaching.

Have you learnt anything new about yourself through volunteering with us?

Maybe not so much new, as re-found?     It is quiet, contemplative work.  You have to slow down, take care, and treat items and their histories with respect.  There is an element of mindfulness which can be lost in a more frenetic working environment.  

Tell us the best 3 things about volunteering with National Museums NI?

Working with lovely people.

It’s a privilege to work with beautiful and interesting objects and histories.

Feeling happy and useful.