Holburne Volunteers

Welcome to the Holburne Museum's Volunteer web page.

Due to popular demand we are briniging our Volunteers this page to keep you all up to date with all that is going on at the Holburne.

Information regarding Volunteering and Volunteer oppotunities will also be posted here.

Below you will also see you can view the latest rota (including last minute changes) The Volunteer Policy and Handbook.

If there is anything you would like to see added to the page please do not hesitate to get in touch at volunteers@holburne.org

Also don't forget you can all stay in touch via the Volunteers Facebook page by logging into your Facebook account and searching for Holburne Volunteers

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Volunteer Profiles are Back!

Our popular section Volunteer Profiles is back up and running. 
This is a great opportunity for you all to get to find out more about all of your colleagues

This month its Monday Afternoons very own Lisa Delaney 
To read more about Lisa just click the link below


If you would like to be included in our Volunteer Profiles section just drop Spencer a line at

Friday, 19 September 2014

New News and Rota is now online (19 September 2014)

I hope that this latest edition of the Newsletter finds you well. 

Dare I say it but Autumn is drawing in, however here at the Holburne we still have an exciting programme to brighten your days. 

We hope that as many of you as possible can make the Volunteer Training on our exciting new exhibition “High Spirits”: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson on Friday 26 September at either 10.30am or 2pm. If you have not yet signed up to one of these session please do so ASAP. 

I hope that most of you now have met our new Director Jennifer Scott. Jennifer will be at the High Spirits training to say ‘Hello’ and will also be leading our October Training session on Dutch Paintings (see below)
We are also welcoming two new exhibitions this month, firstly Holly Davey’s work will be on display in the Wirth Gallery from 18 October and Paul Scott’s beautiful ceramics will be on display on the Ballroom table.
Your latest rota can be found by clicking the link below. 
Phew! Its going to be a busy few months for all of us.
As always, thank you all so much for all your hard work and support.

Spencer, Steven, Georgie and Josh 

Dutch Paintings Volunteer Training Session

With Director Jennifer Scott
Monday 27 October 6.30pm

Join our new Director Jennifer Scott as we delve deeper into our collection of Dutch Paintings. This fascinating training lecture will provide you all with more interesting facts to Pass on to all our visitors.

Please sign up to the training session by emailing  volunteers@holburne.org or by letting your Duty Manger know on shift. 

Sunday sign up - HELP!

Historically we have always suffered with Volunteer numbers on our Sunday shifts ,which has always been a problem for us.
As you are aware we are currently in the midst of a large Volunteer recruitment to overcome this. However despite this  we are now in danger of perhaps having to shut galleries on some Sundays due to this shortage.

We have a done a few sums and have worked out  that if each of you would be kind enough to perhaps fill just one gap (either afternoon or morning) between now  the end of the year we would have a full team. That’s just one Sunday shift between now and Christmas.

If you feel that you would be able to help out please let you duty manager know on shift or email

Thank you so much everyone, you support is always so gratefully appreciated

Four new paintings on loan

A family in Wiltshire has very kindly agreed to lend three British portraits and an Italian landscape to the Holburne for a year. 

The portrait of Mr and Mrs Purvis by Arthur Devis is similar to the Holburne’s own double portrait, Alicia and Jane Clarke, but about fifteen years earlier.  Captain (later Rear-Admiral) Charles Wager Purvis (1715-1772) married Amy Godfrey in 1741, shortly before Devis painted their portrait.  Although the Purvis and Godfrey families came from Suffolk, Devis has placed them in an idyllic and rather exotic setting, a terrace overlooking a picturesque sea.  Mrs Purvis, seated at a table, is holding a bunch of grapes, suggesting that she has accompanied her husband on his travels in the Mediterranean.

Those with a long memory may recognise Sir Joshua Reynolds’s portrait of Elizabeth Foley from the 2002 Holburne exhibition ‘In the Public Eye’.  This is an unfinished study for a three-quarter length portrait now in the USA.  It was painted in 1770, nine years before Miss Foley married the poet and biographer Dr. Charles Symmons (1749-1826), who was Rector of Narberth at the time.  She outlived her husband, who died in Bath in 1826.

The Shy Child, a late work by Reynolds’s rival George Romney (1734-1802), is also unfinished.  Like Reynolds and Joseph Wright, Romney was outstandingly gifted as a painter of children.  The Shy Child is not intended to be a portrait, but a study of a child’s behaviour.  In the latter part of his life, Romney made countless studies of mood, gesture and psychology, working closely with models including the famous Emma Hart (later Lady Hamilton).  This little girl may have been one of the children Romney befriended in the 1790s when he spent much of his time in Hampstead.  As a swift study of a little girl’s timidity, it is very similar to Wright’s 1770s portrait of his daughter Anna Romana which was such a memorable feature of our exhibition earlier this year.

Finally, we have a landscape by Roman artist Andrea Locatelli (1695-1741).  The view is dominated by a castle, with on the left a glimpse of the sea similar to Captain Purvis’s, a group of pastoral figures and a flock of sheep, and on the right a river flowing from a mountain past a church, with a pair of goats refreshing themselves on its banks.  Like Panini, Locatelli sold much of his work to British Grand Tourists.  The wide format of this canvas suggests that it was intended as a decorative overdoor, so we will be hanging it above one of the Ballroom doors.

 We will be installing the paintings in the Picture Gallery and Ballroom Gallery on 9 and 10 October, so please bear with us while the galleries are closed.  At the same time, we will be removing Zoffany’s Love in a Village from display, as one of our supporters has generously offered to cover the cost of its conservation. 

Please note: the owner has asked us not to reproduce these paintings and therefore we are unable to print them in the newsletter.

Have you seen the Muffin Man?

A group from the Silhouette Collectors’ Club recently came to visit the Edouart exhibition and to see some silhouettes from the reserve collection with Amina.  One of our guests, Cynthia McKinley of York (who deals in silhouettes) recognised the dwarf depicted by Edouart as John Millbank of Cheltenham, alias Johnny the Muffin Man. 

Contemporaries describe him as about 3 feet 6 inches high, wearing a tall beaver hat and a white apron.  He carried muffins in a big square basket covered in a cloth to keep them warm.  He also carried a stout stick as he was often teased by children.

  All of these are clearly visible in Edouart’s silhouette.  We know Edouart was very busy in Cheltenham during the late 1820s and early 1830s, often moving between there and Bath according to the season. 

Johnny the Muffin Man was obviously something of a celebrity, as there are so many images of him.  You can read more about him on Cheltenham Museum’s website, http://www.cheltenhammuseum.org.uk/Docs/Muffin%20Man.pdf


One of our most successful Family events is back this October. The BIG DRAW is a national event across Museums and galleries and we have always had a massive turn out and a lot of fun.

If you are able to help steward the galleries and welcome more than 600 people on the 5 October we would love to hear from you.

See below some pictures of the Duty Mangers and Volunteers form last years super hero inspired BIG DRAW 

Collection Cleaning

We are still looking for Volunteers to join our brilliant Collection Cleaning team. Collection cleaners start their normal shift a little earlier than normal and make sure that all our cases and objects are sparkling for all our visitors to enjoy. If you are interested in getting involved please contact volunteers@holburne.org or speak to Duty Manager Georgie Tomlinson

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Hello From Our New Director

Hello Everyone , I am looking forward to getting to know you all individually, but just wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself. I started on the 18th August as the new Director having previously been a Curator at Royal Collection Trust. I am absolutely thrilled to be here.

Something that always stood out to me as a visitor to the Holburne was the enthusiasm, knowledge and welcoming approach of the volunteer team. You do an exceptional job as the outward face of the museum and I am very proud to be working with you. Please make sure you introduce yourselves to me when you see me around the museum.

All best wishes,
Jennifer Scott (Jenny)

New Rota Now Online

Hi Everyone 
The new rota is now online and you can view it at the link below 
AS you will see we are a little depleted towards the end. This is due to many of our ERASMUS students going home  and our Bath Spa University students have not yet been given their time tables. 

We are hoping that some of you would be kind enough to help fill a couple of these gaps for a few weeks. We are also inducting a new group of Volunteers towards the end of September so  we hope that this is just a temporary measure. 
Thank you so much for (perhaps) considering helping out

New Exhibition Notes and Training Information

Sat 27 Sept 2014 to Sun 8 Feb 2015
We are fast approaching the opening of our next exhibition, High Spirits!
The artist and printmaker Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827) was one of the wittiest satirists of Georgian England. His incisive and enduringly popular caricatures are celebrated in an exhibition that brings together some of the artist's finest prints and drawings from the important collection of his work held at Windsor Castle.

In Rowlandson's time, the satirical print was one of London's most important artistic products, and he made a major contribution to the success of this genre. They were collected by the fashionable for their albums, pasted to walls and screens as decoration, and laughed over at dinner parties and in coffee houses.

Among Rowlandson's eager collectors was the young George Prince of Wales (1762-1830), himself a gambler, drinker and magnet for scandal. At the same time, the Prince and his brothers had a fraught relationship with caricaturists, often finding themselves the butt of vicious attacks on their lifestyle, affairs, and attempts to interfere in politics.
Rowlandson turned his pen on Britain's enemy Napoleon Bonaparte, the fast-living Charles James Fox, the ambitious William Pitt the Younger and the glamorous and scandalous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. London high society, too, was the focus of many of his caricatures, which revelled in the absurdities of fashion, the cult of theatrical celebrity and the perils of love. Not even Bath could escape his sardonic eye. Alongside these are to be shown some of Rowlandson's gentle English views which, though never intended as satire, are infused with gentle humour.

Volunteer training for this exhibition will take place on Friday 26 September at either 10.30am or 2pm with Senior Curator Amina Wright in our CLORE learning space. Please email Spencer at s.hancock@holburne.org or let your Duty Manager know on shift which session you will be able to attend. We hope you are looking forward to it.

Coming Soon...............Confected, Borrowed and Blue...an installation by Paul Scott

The Ballroom Gallery 1 November to 18 January

In Paul Scott’s hands, domestic ceramics mutate into subversive comments on our life and times. His expert manipulation of familiar motifs like the Willow Pattern gives his work special resonance and broad appeal. He also uses undecorated factory ceramics, called ‘blanks’; these are     over-printed in the same blue as the Willow Pattern to dramatic effect

Blue and white china is often displayed at home for its decorative qualities; it is a visual language that many people are familiar with. Paul Scott’s appropriation of its traditional patterns as vehicles for socio-political commentary has made his work unmistakeable.  Warning signs for radioactivity are tucked into the border of the Willow Pattern; jet planes streak across rural landscapes. 

On a shallow oval dish with delicate fluted edges, a drilling platform rises starkly above a sumptuous deep blue landscape.  As befits the title - Fracked - the dish is cracked and in time honoured fashion, the crack has been filled with gold. 

A ghost factory, with the legend ‘Spode Closed’, overprinted onto a classic Spode Italian plate laments the demise of the ceramics industry in Britain. The exhibition includes new work derived from a period of research in the Spode archive.
Scott’s ‘Cockle Pickers Tea Service’ responds to the tragic 2004 drowning of 19 Chinese gang workers in Morecombe Bay. The simple but effective images use elements from the Willow Pattern and show the water inexorably rising to engulf the scene. It was made to commemorate the passing of the parliamentary bill to abolish the Slave Trade but it also reminds us that slavery is still an issue in Britain today.

With prefixes like ‘Scott’s Cumbrian Blues’ and ‘The Scott collection,’ the titles of Scott’s ceramics reference both private and institutional collecting practices. On the reverse of each piece are found his maker’s mark, information about the printed ‘edition’ to which it belongs, and sometimes his signature

What's On Event Stewards

Our new What’s on programme will be hitting doorsteps in the next couple of weeks. It is packed to the brim with new events, lectures, and concerts. If you would like to help out and steward at any of these events please do let your Duty Manager know when you are next on shift.
In addition we are also looking for Volunteers for  our Private Views in September as well as  Up Late. Details and dates of these will be posted in the Tea House so please do have a look to see If you can come along and help  

New Family Activity

As of next week we have a brand new set of activities for families at the Museum. The family activity bags can be borrowed from the information desk for just £3.  Unlike most museum activity packs, Our Grand Tour and Art Explorers are designed for families to explore the Museum together.  That is why the bags are not child size and the reading level is aimed at adults or older children. They are most suitable for families with children over the age of 5. Equally, the Under 5s pack is meant to be carried by the accompanying adult and they need to read instructions .

Invite a Friend

Do you really enjoy Volunteering at the Museum? Would you recommend Volunteering to a Friend? If the answer is yes then why not suggest just that. 

The Holburne needs to recruit 40 new Volunteers into its core gallery Steward team by the end of September this year. We will of course be using all our usual advertising avenues but we would love to hear from you if you know of someone that may enjoy Volunteering with us. If you do please request a volunteer application form from Spencer or ask them to contact Spencer directly at

Monday, 28 July 2014

News and rota now online

We hope you are all well? How amazing is this weather? 

We have another packed programme this summer which includes the return of Colourscape, Cinema Under the stars and a very special addition to the Picture Gallery. We still have Tessa Farmers “Unwelcome Visitors” which will run      throughout the school holidays and we have just announced that during the summer Under 16’s go FREE into the Julian Opie exhibition.
 Our new Director Jennifer Scott will be joining us on the 18th August and we are all really excited to get to know her and welcome her to our team. 

Due to the summer holidays we are finding ourselves  a little short (especially at the weekends)  so please keep an eye on the rotas and if you are able to spare a few extra hours we will be eternally grateful.
We will be looking to recruit another 40 Volunteers into the core team before the end of September, so you can look forward to welcoming some new faces and making some new friends.
We have a packed schedule of training events for you all starting again in September and news of this will be posted in the next newsletter
Please check the latest rota by clicking on the link below 
Thank you all so much for everything, you are all doing such a great job.

Spencer, Steven, Georgie and Josh

Friday, 25 July 2014

Ballroom table mats

After many years and lots and lots of our visitors asking for them, we have finally reproduced the table mats that you find on our Ballroom Table 

These are now available in our shop! 

Goodbye for now.....

Time is hurtling on (it does that) and it is now a matter of weeks before I say goodbye to the Holburne, with my last day on August 8th. I have had nine exceptionally happy years here and …

There are many things I am proud of that we have achieved at the Museum but the volunteer team and programme is unquestionably one of them, not that I would want to claim any credit for your success. I am constantly in awe of the time, care,  dedication and passion that you all bring into the Museum every day which is inevitably communicated to our visitors. None of you have to be here and I am enormously grateful that so many of you chose to be so. I don’t know how many of you waste time looking at the reviews we get from random visitors on Tripadvisor but it makes             instructive reading. Not everything there is positive (although I have to say most of it is) but the one thing that comes through loud and clear is just how welcoming, informative and helpful our volunteers are – not that everyone knows you are volunteers. In the comments below, taken from the last few months of reviews you are often assumed to be ‘staff’ and variously promoted to ‘curators’, Americanised as ‘docents’ and one of you is described as a ‘minder’ (I have my suspicions):

‘Several informative curators who made us feel welcome and helped us get more from what we were looking at’; ’and the   volunteers are some of the best that I have ever met’; ‘The staff/volunteers are enthusiastic and assed further information if asked’ ‘staff are friendly’; ‘staff friendly and informative’; ‘the staff are very sweet and attentive’; ‘great loos and friendly and knowledgeable staff’; ‘the docents were very helpful and friendly’; ‘friendly and knowledgeable volunteers in every room’; ‘very friendly staff’; ‘staff was very nice and welcoming and helpful’; ’there was a very knowledgeable ‘minder’ in the gallery who pointed out things I had missed in some of the paintings’; The staff: Mostly volunteers who were very enthusiastic and I can almost say excited about the possibilities of this gallery’
And so it goes on.

All I can say is thank you for all you do for the Museum and for contributing so much to the enjoyment of those who come here and perhaps as importantly, those who work here. I shall miss the Holburne, I shall miss all of you, but I know I leave the Museum in very good hands and look forward to seeing (from a little distance) what happens next.


The Plank (or Europe at war: A hidden record)

A very unusual object is just about to go on display in the Picture Gallery : a simple plank of wood with pencil markings made by builders working at the Holburne a century ago. It was quite common for carpenters to leave a message for posterity with their names, the date, and a casual observation. What is striking about this inscription is that the three men were working in the museum building just as the First World War broke out. Their message is particularly resonant with the centenary of the outbreak of war this year.

They wrote:
“France Servia Montenegrins English Japan Russia
at war with Germany and Austria August 1914
W. Black G. H. Nation J. Pearce (carpenters)
for Hayward & Wooster Builders ”

The message they left would be discovered in 2009 during the museum's redevelopment project. Records show that the three carpenters had come to Bath for work, but were too old for conscription. You can imagine them discussing the situation - including who was on which side. Russia was listed first with Germany and Austria before being crossed out and added to the list of allies. The message William Black, George Nation and Joseph Pearce left would remain undiscovered until 2009 during the museum's redevelopment project.    The plank survived thanks to the efforts of the more recent builders removing the cladding, who carefully saved the plank before it was taken down to the archive. The plank will be displayed in the Picture Gallery, where it was originally part of the wall cladding, until the end of the year.

Thank you to Faunsia (who researched the carpenters) Andrew Swift (researched in the archives) and Dan Brown (who found the amazing postcard of soldiers outside the Holburne in 1915) for their contributions!

Invite a Friend?

Do you really enjoy Volunteering at the Museum? Would you recommend Volunteering to a Friend? If the answer is yes then why not suggest just that. 

The Holburne needs to recruit 40 new Volunteers into its core gallery Steward team by the end of September this year. We will of course be using all our usual advertising avenues but we would love to hear from you if you know of someone that may enjoy Volunteering with us. If you do please request a volunteer application form from Spencer or ask them to contact Spencer directly at

Cinema Under the Stars

This year see’s the return of Cinema Under the Stars in our back Garden. This has always been a very popular event and we are really excited that the Little Theatre Cinema has chosen our grounds one again. The films that will be shown are as follows

Friday 29 August Moulin Rouge
Saturday 30 August James Bond: SKYFALL
Sunday 31 August The Ladykillers

We are looking for Volunteers to come along on the evenings and help steward. The gates will open to the public at 7pm and the films are due to start at 8.30pm. If you would like to come and help please do get in touch as soon as possible 

Could you give the Development team one hour of your week?

We cannot survive without the volunteers who, from time to time, help out in our busy office.  I am looking for a reliable volunteer to regularly give an hour or two a week from September to help me keep on top of valuable data entry in connection with our Gift Aid. Knowledge of databases is required and I will give you some additional training on what to do.

If you are interested email me at a.coleman-smith@holburne.org  and let’s chat, or let Spencer know. I promise to supply tea and biscuits too! Thanks.

Alison Coleman-Smith, Development Officer.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

New News and Rota online July / August

Hi Everyone. 

Summer has finally arrived!
We all really hope that you enjoyed the Volunteer Party on the 6 June. It was a great evening. Thank you to all that       entered the Great British Volunteer Bake off. Congratulations to long standing Volunteers Undine Concannon, Trish Tassis,   Jennifer Bereska and Neil Kennedy who were all presented with Outstanding Contribution Awards.
Steven has just returned form a 2 week break and Spencer, Georgie and Josh are all looking forward to well earned breaks this summer. Not before we have delivered numerous summer parties, weddings and corporate events, phew!
Spencer has been working with the curatorial team to put together an exciting training and lecture series for you for the rest of the year and the first part of 2015. Watch this space for more details.
There will be another change in the Wirth Gallery over the Summer (see below) and preparations are under way for our autumn/winter programme.
You can view your new rota by clicking the link below 
Your hard work and commitment as always overwhelms us, thank you for everything you do for the Museum.
See You soon
Spencer, Steven, Georgie and Josh