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

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