Tag Archives: volunteer

Volunteer Appreciation: Lauren W.

18 May

The Museum of Inuit Art has an amazing team of over 30 volunteers that offer their time and expertise to support many areas of our operations—public programs, visitor services, website development, collections management, and marketing to name a few. In 2013 our volunteers contributed nearly 4,888 hours to our organization. That is the equivalent of the hours worked by 2.5 full-time staff members in a given year! We are truly grateful for their support.

We have such a fantastic team here at the museum, it is hard to capture all the wonderful people involved but we’ve selected a few of our current and past volunteers in a variety of roles to speak about their experience being a part of the MIA family!


 

Lauren W.

Lauren condition reporting a piece coming to the museum on loan from the Matchbox Gallery.

 

Lauren Williams joined the MIA collection management team during her second year for the University of Toronto’s Master of Museum Studies (MMSt) program. Since her first day at MIA she has become an invaluable addition and helped MIA staff tackle a large and significant collections audit. From works on paper, stone, antler, hide, metal, ivory – Lauren has worked with it all, and shown remarkable care and attention to all of her condition reports and exhibition preparation. MIA could not be more proud to have such a dedicated volunteer and can not wait to see what she accomplishes in the field now that she has graduated from the MMSt program!

Why did you decide to volunteer with the Museum of Inuit Art?

After doing an internship at a large institution I was very interested in seeing how things are done on a much smaller scale.  The Museum of Inuit Art has always been the little-museum-that-could to me.  Despite the small staff they are always on the forefront of museum innovation: from augmented reality to the speaker series Museum ShowoffTO.

Describe your experience so far with MIA

My experience has been very positive so far.  I have had the pleasure of working with a collection of works on paper as well as various sculptures and baskets.  I am learning more and more about Inuit art and culture each time I come in.  The staff are all incredibly knowledgeable and very helpful!

What was the most memorable or rewarding moment that you have had while volunteering with the museum?

I began my experience at the MIA cataloging a series of works on paper by hand.  Many of these drawings had syllabics written on them – I was careful to copy them down as the artist had written them, but as this was my first time encountering syllabics I was doing so blindly.  In the past few weeks, I have been inputting those paper records into a digital catalog.  This time I have been using a chart online to transcribe the syllabics.  After doing this a couple times I was really starting to not only copy but understand the way artist’s names translated.  This was an exciting moment for me as I am always looking to learn something new!

What have you learned from your experience with the museum thus far?

I have learned how invaluable volunteer work can be to smaller museums.  As I said before, I had previously interned at a larger institution and took a lot of things for granted.  I was truly amazed when I learned of the amount of volunteers at the MIA.  Each week I am inspired by all of the other volunteers who dedicate their time to the museum.

What are you doing now?

Currently, I am finishing up the final weeks of my Master of Museum Studies Degree at University of Toronto.  I volunteer at the MIA once a week working on collections management projects.


If you are interested in learning more about our collections management volunteer opportunity at the museum, visit our website. We are always looking for people to join our team!

- Posted by: Lindsay Bontoft, MIA’s Public Programming and Development Coordinator

Volunteer Appreciation Week: Lily J.

11 Apr

The Museum of Inuit Art has an amazing team of over 30 volunteers that offer their time and expertise to support many areas of our operations—public programs, visitor services, website development, collections management, and marketing to name a few. In 2013 our volunteers contributed nearly 4,888 hours to our organization. That is the equivalent of the hours worked by 2.5 full-time staff members in a given year! We are truly grateful for their support. Throughout National Volunteer Appreciation Week will be celebrating the contributions of our amazing volunteer team during 2013.

We have such a fantastic team here at the museum, it is hard to capture all the wonderful people involved but we’ve selected a few of our current and past volunteers in a variety of roles to speak about their experience being a part of the MIA family!


 

 Lily J.

 Lily2

Lily Jackson joined the MIA collection management team following her move to Toronto and acceptance into the University of Toronto’s Masters of Museum Studies program (MMSt). Since her first day at MIA she has become an invaluable addition and helped MIA staff tackle a large and significant collections audit. From works on paper, stone, antler, hide, metal, ivory – Lily has worked with it all, and shown remarkable care and attention to all of her condition reports and exhibition preparation. And she’s had some pretty fantastic #museumselfie moments along the way. MIA could not be more proud to have such a dedicated volunteer.

Why did you decide to volunteer with the Museum of Inuit Art?

I had moved to Toronto to pursue a Master’s degree in Museum Studies from the University of Toronto, and wanted to ground my classroom-based learning in real-world museum experience. Some of the MIA staff members are graduates of the same degree program, which presented an opportunity to learn from emerging museum professionals who understood what I was learning. Plus, I have always loved Inuit art, and I enjoy working in smaller-sized museums. For all these reasons, MIA seemed like a great fit.

Describe your experience so far with MIA

My experience at MIA has centered on all aspects of collections management work. I have spent much of my time accessioning and cataloguing a large collection of drawings from Pangnirtung, Nunavut. I also worked alongside a team of MIA staff and volunteers to ensure that all of the objects on display in the museum’s galleries were unaffected by an unexpected water leak. Recently, I’ve been familiarizing myself with MIA’s online database, and have begun making electronic records for the Pangnirtung drawings. Finally, I assist with extra projects as needed, such as unpacking boxes of objects on loan for the upcoming SKQ exhibition.

What was the most memorable or rewarding moment that you have had while volunteering with the museum?

One of the most memorable and rewarding experiences I have had at the museum was participating in the installation of Abraham Ruben’s “Ancient Memories” and Bart Hanna’s “Migration”. These two large and complex sculptures were installed in MIA’s pedestal gallery in one day, which required the patience and collaboration of several staff members, professional art movers, and myself. I find it very rewarding to help objects move from being tightly secured inside large boxes with reams of acid-free packaging to being on display in the light of the gallery for people to see. This process was made all the more rewarding by the whole team’s cooperation, which ultimately meant that the pieces were unpacked and put on display safely.

What have you learned from your experience with the museum thus far?

I could write a small encyclopedic series of what I have learned at MIA. But, to keep it brief: working with all manner of Inuit art – particularly the Pangnirtung drawings – has broadened my conception of Inuit art, and has enhanced my love of it. I have also learned about many challenges and opportunities of collections management, including issues surrounding collections software, storage, and conservation. Finally, my time at MIA has increased my awareness of how everything – and everyone – in museums is interconnected; teamwork and communication skills are vital!

What are you doing now?

I continue to volunteer at MIA once per week. I am nearly finished the first year of my Museum Studies program, and am about to start a summer internship in fundraising and development at a national arts organization based in Toronto.


 

If you are interested in learning more about our collections management volunteer opportunity at the museum, visit our website. We are always looking for people to join our team!

- Posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Digital Assets Coordinator

Volunteer Appreciation Week: Christina J.

10 Apr

The Museum of Inuit Art has an amazing team of over 30 volunteers that offer their time and expertise to support many areas of our operations—public programs, visitor services, website development, collections management, and marketing to name a few. In 2013 our volunteers contributed nearly 4,888 hours to our organization. That is the equivalent of the hours worked by 2.5 full-time staff members in a given year! We are truly grateful for their support. Throughout National Volunteer Appreciation Week will be celebrating the contributions of our amazing volunteer team during 2013.

We have such a fantastic team here at the museum, it is hard to capture all the wonderful people involved but we’ve selected a few of our current and past volunteers in a variety of roles to speak about their experience being a part of the MIA family!


 

 Christina J.

Christina Christina today

Pictured above are photos of Christina during her time at MIA and during her time in Cuzco, Peru this past summer.

Christina Johnson began volunteering with us in September 2012 as a Front Desk volunteer. Throughout the eight months that she volunteered at MIA she contributed over 130 hours of service to our institution, not only on our front desk but with our March Break programming. While Christina was with us, she illustrated a great passion for the study of different cultures, particularly through artifacts. She often asked insightful questions related to collections management and exhibition development at our museum and we are pleased to see her pursuing a career in the cultural heritage field.

Why did you decide to volunteer with the Museum of Inuit Art?

I studied Anthropology in Undergrad, and when I moved to Toronto I knew I wanted to get museum experience in an institution that was related to native cultures, and their artifacts. I thought the Museum of Inuit Art would be a perfect fit, and allow me to experience many different parts of museum life.

Describe your experience during your time with MIA.

Although I was only with the museum for a short time my time there allowed me to gain experience and also to become comfortable in the museum setting, which helped me cement my plan to go into Museum studies. MIA provided the perfect setting to gain practical and knowledge based experience.

What was the most memorable or rewarding moment that you had while volunteering with the museum?

One of my most memorable experiences while volunteering was participating in an educational program, during spring break, which taught children about the differences in grocery prices between Toronto and the Arctic. It was great to be able to interact with children and teach them something they had never thought about, while hopefully also igniting their interest in Inuit culture.

What have you learned from your experience with the museum?

During my time at the museum I learned a lot about the importance of customer service, and interacting with visitors, to enhance their experience and hopefully get them to come back. I also learned about Inuit art and culture, which was something I unfortunately, knew nothing about when I started.

What are you doing now?

Currently I am a Graduate student at the University of Florida, studying Museum Studies, with a concentration in Anthropology.

- Posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Digital Assets Coordinator

Volunteer Appreciation Week: Kyle M.

9 Apr

The Museum of Inuit Art has an amazing team of over 30 volunteers that offer their time and expertise to support many areas of our operations—public programs, visitor services, website development, collections management, and marketing to name a few. In 2013 our volunteers contributed nearly 4,888 hours to our organization. That is the equivalent of the hours worked by 2.5 full-time staff members in a given year! We are truly grateful for their support. Throughout National Volunteer Appreciation Week will be celebrating the contributions of our amazing volunteer team during 2013.

We have such a fantastic team here at the museum, it is hard to capture all the wonderful people involved but we’ve selected a few of our current and past volunteers in a variety of roles to speak about their experience being a part of the MIA family!


Kyle M.

Kyle M.

Kyle Miller began volunteering with us in  January 2013 as a Front Desk volunteer after visiting our museum and becoming a member. Kyle is a very dedicated and reliable volunteer at MIA, and he consistently surpasses the requirements of his role.  Throughout the year that he has been with volunteering with us, Kyle has developed an updated, mobile-compatible website for the museum through WordPress which has received positive feedback. While Kyle no longer volunteers on the front desk, he continues to update our website on a weekly basis with new information on upcoming events and exhibitions. We look forward to continuing to work with Kyle and are sure we will see him at future members’ events!

Why did you decide to volunteer with the Museum of Inuit Art?

A few years ago, I won a free trip to Yellowknife, and while I was there I bought a miniature stonecut print by Peter Aliknak. When I returned to Toronto, I wanted to learn more about it, so I paid the MIA a visit. In one of the strangest coincidences of my life, MIA actually had the original stone print block on temporary display when I visited. I knew I had to learn more.

Describe your experience so far with MIA.

I’ve enjoyed working at the front desk, meeting many of my fellow volunteers and of course many hundreds of visitors. I quickly fell into the role of helping to upgrade and maintain the MIA website, something I’m good at and enjoy doing. And I’ve really enjoyed being a part of MIA’s volunteer program, which is rewarding and a lot of fun.

What was the most memorable or rewarding moment that you have had while volunteering with the museum?

I’ve recently enjoyed many of the conversations I’ve had with visitors about Memories: An Ancient Past, an enormous and monumental work by Abraham Anghik Ruben in the MIA lobby. It draws people in and it’s a great way to share some of the history and mythology underlying Inuit art.

What have you learned from your experience with the museum thus far?

My knowledge of Inuit art, history, and culture is so much greater now than when I started. That’s why I started volunteering – to learn more – and it really has worked out.

What are you doing now? 

I’m halfway through an Urban Planning graduate degree.


 

If you are interested in learning how you can lend your expertise to the museum like Kyle has with our website development, visit our website and take a look for our project-based volunteer opportunities. We are always looking for people to join our team! 

- Posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Digital Assets Coordinator


 

Volunteer Appreciation Week: Julia E.

8 Apr

The Museum of Inuit Art has an amazing team of over 30 volunteers that offer their time and expertise to support many areas of our operations—public programs, visitor services, website development, collections management, and marketing to name a few. In 2013 our volunteers contributed nearly 4,888 hours to our organization. That is the equivalent of the hours worked by 2.5 full-time staff members in a given year! We are truly grateful for their support. Throughout National Volunteer Appreciation Week will be celebrating the contributions of our amazing volunteer team during 2013.

We have such a fantastic team here at the museum, it is hard to capture all the wonderful people involved but we’ve selected a few of our current and past volunteers in a variety of roles to speak about their experience being a part of the MIA family!


 

Julia E.

Julia E

Julia Extance is currently volunteering at the museum at our front desk focusing on visitor services. She began volunteering with us in December 2013 and since then has been very proactive in helping us get our front desk organized into an effective workspace. Every day she comes to staff with new ideas that we are slowing implementing at the front desk. The latest initiative put forth by Julia is her proposal to take on a project to track visitation to the museum, which will be of great assistance to staff when scheduling our programs and events!

Why did you decide to volunteer with the Museum of Inuit Art?

I graduated university recently and have been unable to find a job so I wanted to start volunteering for some organization long term in order to help out my resume. Luckily the MIA is a fun and interesting place to volunteer, so now it’s less about making my resume look good and more about genuinely contributing to a Canadian cultural institution.

Describe your experience so far with MIA.

My experience so far has been very pleasant. Everyone who works and volunteers here is nice; everyone who visits is nice; it’s a nice museum. Even when there are not many visitors I read or clean the lobby so there’s always something to do.

What was the most memorable or rewarding moment that you have had while volunteering with the museum?

Cleaning out the craft supplies and seeing all the fun materials we have, and then seeing it all neatly put back on the shelves and hearing from an Arts Assistant that it was easier to find stuff now that it’s better organized.

What have you learned from your experience with the museum thus far?

One thing I’ve learned is how to apply quite specific skills I’ve learned in university from the subject of statistics and apply it to other fields for different projects. The Visitor Tally project that I’m responsible for is not very complicated but completely relies on having a basic knowledge of statistics and methods of data collection and analysis, so it was exciting for me to actually use those skills in everyday practice.

What are you doing now?

Still looking for a job, and still volunteering. And thinking of more ways to make the Visitor Service Volunteers tasks more organized.


 

If you are interested in learning more about our Visitor Services volunteer opportunity at the museum, visit our website . We are always looking for people to join our team!

- Post by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Digital Assets Coordinator

National Volunteer Appreciation Week: Sahana P.

8 Apr

We continue our series of volunteer profile with another member of the MIA family. Sahana Purvirajasingam began volunteering with us in September 2012 as a front desk volunteer. In the past year and a half that she has volunteered with us, Sahana has far surpassed the requirements of this role. She has dedicated time to delivering public program and also organizes social events for her fellow volunteers to enjoy. Most recently, she assisted in the development of our Adventure Packs that are currently in a pilot testing stage at the museum. We are happy to see that she will be pursuing a career in museums but we will miss her when she leaves to  attend the Applied Museum Studies program at Algonquin College this September.


 Sahana P.

Sahana P.

Sahana P., a MIA volunteer (seen on the right) stands with a fellow volunteer during the 2013 holiday party.

Here is how Sahana describes her experience with the museum:

Why did you decide to volunteer with the Museum of Inuit Art?

I decided to volunteer at MIA for two reasons. The first was I needed museum experience to eventually get a museum job. The second reason was that I didn’t know much about Inuit art, history, or culture and this would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about it.

Describe your experience so far with MIA.

My experience so far at MIA has been unbelievably incredible! In just my 1.5 years at MIA I have gained more experience than I could have anywhere else. It also helps that the staff are friendly, supportive, and knowledgable.

What was the most memorable or rewarding moment that you have had while volunteering with the museum?

One of my most memorable and rewarding moment was finally completing the Adventure Packs (thanks to Lindsay for helping out!) and having it launched on Family Day. My other moment was the Volunteer Holiday Party that turned out to be an amazing night after months of planning!

What have you learned from your experience with the museum thus far?

I have learned many things from my time with MIA thus far. This includes developing an educational activity for a museum, being on a committee, developing front desk/receptionist skills, and most of all my knowledge about Inuit art, history, and culture.

What are you doing now?

Currently, I am a front desk volunteer at MIA. In September I will be moving to Ottawa to do the Applied Museum Studies program at Algonquin College.

- Post by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Digital Assets Coordinator

Meet Our Collections Team! Introducing Lily J.

29 Sep

IMG_4931

Hi everyone!
I’m thrilled to be a brand-new addition to the team here at MIA while the museum undertakes a collections audit – a lengthy, intensive, but critical process that ensures everything is a collection is in order (spoiler: it’s usually not).

As a result of changing technologies, changing people, and changing practices, the ways in which a museum keeps track of it’s collection can change drastically over time. Collections audits are regular procedures undertaken to ensure that, despite these changes, a museum can still uphold it’s mission, mandate and vision.

I’ve been a big fan of collections work ever since my somewhat non-traditional entrance into the museum profession during my undergraduate degree. An Environmental Geography student, I was enrolled in my university’s Co-op education program, looking for typical environmental work (think environmental monitoring, GIS). In late spring, worried I would spend the summer with no job at all, I took a job as a Curatorial Assistant working with the collection and exhibition at the University of Victoria Art Collections. I loved everything about it, from the work (centering around another collections audit but also involving curation), exhibition design and installation, to interacting with artists. My tasks were creative, stimulating, and I believed deeply in the importance of it all. Thanks to that experience I went on to work as a Summer Museum Interpreter at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, and with my Environmental Geography degree in hand I began an education in the Master of Museum Studies program at the University of Toronto this summer.

Collections work is meaningful for everyone who interacts with a museum: visitors, artists, staff, researchers, you name it! The objects carry a multiplicity of stories, meanings, and geographies. To be entrusted with working directly with them is immediately inspiring and endlessly fascinating. The collections at MIA are, for me, are particularly important because they are voices from one of the most rapidly changing places on the planet. Furthermore they are cared for and presented by a small institution with a small staff, and it’s often these places that mean the most for particular communities. I was very fortunate to visit the Canadian Arctic during a youth-based research voyage studying climate change and art. The collections at MIA remind me of that time and of that place, and also add new layers to that experience. For these reasons and so many more I am very much looking forward to my time at MIA!

- Posted by: Lily Jackson, MIA’s Collections Management Volunteer

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