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!
Belinda Piercy is our longest serving volunteer. She began with us back in 2011 as a front desk volunteer and eventually completed the docent training program. She now gives tours to school groups and the general public on a regular basis. Belinda not only fulfills the requirements of the docent role here at the museum. We view Belinda as a leader amongst our volunteers and she has played an integral part in making our volunteer program bigger and better at MIA!
Why did you decide to volunteer with the Museum of Inuit Art?
As a philosophy graduate student who writes about art and beauty, the Museum sounded like the perfect fit when I decided to get out into the community and start volunteering. It was!
Describe your experience so far with MIA.
My experience at MIA has been a continual process of falling in love with different artworks and artists, and the vision of the Museum itself. I started off as a front desk representative and took the opportunity to learn more about the Museum’s collection by becoming a docent. Deciding to get more involved has always rewarded me with a richer appreciation for the complexities and achievements of the works on display.
What was the most memorable or rewarding moment that you have had while volunteering with the museum?
I have had many memorable moments with both visitors and artworks. A favourite visitor encounter was the day I encouraged a woman who thought she knew our collection well to come in and take a look at a visiting exhibition. We spent the next half hour engaged in a lively exploration of different works and the reflections on life they gave rise to. One of my favourite moments with an artwork was discovering the faint face on a minimalist sculpture of a bird by George Tataniq. The small incised eyes are so light you need to look closely to see them and for a long time I brushed by the work too quickly to notice. As soon as I saw the under stated yet compelling personality added by that feature, I fell in love.
What have you learned from your experience with the museum thus far?
I have learned that much like getting to know a person, it takes time hanging out with artworks to get to see their different sides, and listen to the different questions they might ask. I don’t always know how to answer those questions, but I have really appreciated the opportunity the Museum has given me to return to things I didn’t notice at first and learn to see them again in new ways.
What are you doing now?
I am still a graduate student, working on my PhD in philosophy at the University of Toronto. I hope to finish that within the next year, and then my life will change. I hope volunteering at the Museum will still be a part of it, I know there is much more for me to discover here.
If you are interested in learning more about our docent training program, visit our website. We are always looking for people to join our team!
-Posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Digital Assets Coordinator