Holburne Volunteers

Welcome to the Holburne Museum's Volunteer BLOG.

This site keep's you all up to date with all that is going on at the Holburne and is full of useful resources to ensure that you are able to perform your role to the best of your ability,

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

Friday, 30 January 2015

News and Rota now online for February

I hope that this all finds you well. 

We have some sad news for the Holburne but some fantastic news for one of our Duty Manager team.

Georgie will be leaving us on 28 February this year as she moves on to London to a wonderful new job as Philatelic Assistant at the British Postal Museum. Georgie started her career here at the Holburne as a Volunteer back in 2011. She then went on to become a freelance duty manager before being made a full time member of our team. We are all really going to miss Georgie but we wish her all the luck in the world in her new position.

We will of course be holding a leaving party for Georgie on Friday 27 February at 5.30pm here in the Garden café. If you would like to come down and wish her well, please RSVP to Spencer or email s.hancock@holburne.org

Georgie’s position is now being advertised and if you would like to apply you can do so by downloading the application and information forms at www.holburne.org from Monday 2 February. The closing date for applications is the 16 February and Interviews will take place on Friday 20 February. 

Our new exhibition opens at the end of this month so the Roper will be closed from 17 - 27 February. Please do check the rota as we do have to reduce the number of volunteers during this period as we would hate for you to be here for no reason.

There is also an addition to our training diary on the 25 February. Scroll down to read more or CLICK HERE

The next rota is now up so please do take a good look at these to avoid any last minute cancellations. 

Plans are underway for our fabulous summer programme. 
Canaletto: Celebrating Britain will open at the end of June as will an incredible outdoor installation by Laura Ellen Bacon. We will be posting up some of her previous work in the tea house so you can get a better understanding of her work. Its going to look amazing.

Nicholas Rena will also be installing his work on the Ballroom table from 21 March. Catrin will be delivering a talk about this on Monday 23 March at 2.30pm so please do sign up for this by letting your Duty manager know on shift or by emailing volunteers@holburne.org

The B&NES Chairman and Community Awards took place on Thursday 29 January. A few lucky Volunteer had the opportunity to go along. We did not win best volunteer team in BANES this year. There was some very stiff competition. You should all be very proud of yourselves for the nomination and all the hard work you do. The Volulnteers that did go along had a good time (see below) 

Thank you for everything you do for us

Spencer, Steven, Georgie and Josh

New Exhibition Volunteer Training

Our training for our next exhibition
Gwen John to Lucian Freud: Home and the World : Dexter Dalwood selects from The Swindon Collection (28 Feb—7 June) will take place on Friday 27 February at 10.30am or 2.30pm.

We will be joined by the Curator from Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Sophie Cummings, who will be talking us through this exhibition.

 Home and the World  forms part of the Frameworks partnership of which we are part of. Our exhibition is the largest in an exciting series of redisplays which highlight modern gems in each of the partner museum collections. The series of exhibitions looks at the reality, fantasy, domesticity and foreign lands, place and time, and bodies and stories in modern art. Our partners are: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, The Victoria Art Gallery, Swindon Museum & Art Gallery and The Wilson in Cheltenham.

To sign up to a  training slot please email volunteers@holburne.org or let your duty manager know which session you would like to attend on your next shift

Can you help?

Over the next few weeks we have a number of events that we would really appreciated some help with.

As always with every new exhibition we have a number of open evenings. In addition we also have our UP LATE series. See below the dates/times of what we need. Please email Spencer at s.hancock@holburne.org if you can help or let your duty manager know on your next shift. 

Holburne UP LATE
Friday 20 February
4.50pm - 8.30pm
This Up Late will feature a light show in the Garden Café as well as the usual music from 7pm. The galleries will be open so we are looking for gallery stewards.

Gwen John to Lucien Freud Private View
Monday 2 March
5.45pm - 8.30pm
We are looking for gallery stewards, cloakroom help and a welcome team to help with this very busy evening. We usually welcome around 250 people.

Friends Private View
Wednesday 4 March
Gallery stewards are needed to help greet the Friends of the Museum on this evening.

Thank you so much for considering any of these evening events. 

Strike a pose!

Our learning team are busy putting together activities  to go into the Sackler centre as part of our next exhibition.

They are planning to create our own large Holburne interior photo montage to which people can add items from our collection and cut out figures

The montages people can make would be in the style of the below collage by British Pop Artist Richard Hamilton whish will be displayed in the exhibition Gwen John to Lucian Freud: Home and the World

We are looking for 2 or 3 Volunteers who would like to be photographed and become the subjects of this fun activity.

If you would like to be involved please get in touch with Spencer as soon as you can

Learning Department Volunteer Induction Training

Find out more about volunteering for the largest department in the museum - the Learning Department (formerly known as Education).

Please come along (without obligation) on Thursday 26th February and find out more!

Find out about our activities from Saturday Art Club and School Workshops to         
Pre-school activities and Holiday Art Camps not to mention special events such as our Easter Eggstravaganza, Lantern Procession and the Big Draw.

Please contact Vanessa on 01225 388568 or email v.wells@holburne.org if you would like to attend. We look forward to seeing you.

Hello from the Philanthropy Team

Could you give some regular time to work in our office?

We cannot survive without the volunteers who, from time to time, help our busy team.  I am looking for a reliable volunteer to regularly give an hour or two a month to help us do some valuable research. 

Knowledge of Microsoft Word is required.
If you are interested email me on 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,  Membership and Philanthropy Officer

Friday 13 Closed!

The Museum will be closed on Friday 13 March as the staff will all be out on their annual away day. 

If you are usually in on a Friday please make sure that you make a note of this in you diary. Thank you

Thursday, 29 January 2015


All volunteers are welcome to attend free 'Access' training in the Clore Learning Space on Wednesday 25 February, 10.30am -12.30pm.  There will be several speakers from local community organisations who will talk about how to welcome people who may not be regular Museum visitors. Practical approaches will be on offer with the aim of helping you to feel confident in enabling visitors to have an enjoyable and successful visitor experience. This has been organised as part of the Bath Museum's Partnership with Bath Preservation Trust and The American Museum; their staff and volunteers will also have this opportunity at their own sites.

The speakers will be:

Janet Dabbs, Chief Executive of  Age UK, B&NES   
Age UK provides services and support at a national and local level to inspire, enable and support older people. The aim is to promote the wellbeing of all older people in B&NES and to make later life a fulfilling experience.

Ralph Lillywhite, St Mungo's Building Bridges to Wellbeing Manager   
St Mungo's works with people with low to moderate mental health needs in B&NES. The aim is to enable clients to have more independent and fulfilling lives by developing peer support networks and groups.

Philippa Forsey, Manager – Creative Wellbeing Programme, Creativity Works   
Creativity Works supports people's transition from using mental health services to community-based activities, based around the arts and culture, volunteering, employment, education, training, and vocational activities.

Harriet Rose or James Beattie,  Family Play Support Workers, Bath Area Play Project   
BAPP is a local voluntary organisation and registered charity that supports children and families to reduce their social isolation using play as a process of engagement and connection with the whole family.

Places are limited therefore if you would like to attend on the 25 February, please could you RSVP to Spencer as soon as possible at s.hancock@holburne.org or by letting your Duty Manager know on your next shift 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

News and Rota Now On Line January 2015

Happy New Year to you all!

I hope that you are all looking forward to this year as much as we are. As always we have lots planned with a massive 9 temporary exhibitions throughout the year in the Roper, Wirth and Davidson galleries.

There have been a few changes behind the scenes over the last month and with that some job title changes.

Spencer is now Head of Visitor and Commercial Operations and joins the new senior management team. In addition to overseeing the whole front of house operation ,Volunteer programme and driving forward venue hire, he is also now line managing the Shop and its Manager Mari and concentrating on the strategic planning for the Museum.

Steven is now Visitor Services Manager and although Spencer is Head of the department Steven will be directly line managing the Duty Managers and will take on the Museums busy calendar to ensure that smooth running of the day to day of the building. He will continue to deliver all our corporate events and weddings. Finally Duty Manager Josh, contract has been made Full time.

These changes should not impact on you as Spencer will still be managing the Volunteer programme. If you do have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Our new exhibition in the Wirth Gallery: Turner, Watercolours from the West opens on Saturday 11 January. We really hope you enjoy this exhibition. One of the pictures which features Bath Abbey also shows the home of Thomas Gainsborough so please do point this out to our visitors in the Picture Gallery.

The new rota is now online and you can view it by clicking HERE

As a reminder the Holburne Brochure has been reduced in price to just £5. We would really like to see as many visitors as we can using this in the galleries. Please do let them know that they are available to purchase for just £5 and they are jammed packed full of information on our collection.

Thank you all so much for everything. We are really looking forward to working with you all again this year.

See you soon

Spencer, Steven, Georgie and Josh 

Up the Stairs 

Volunteer Training Session
With Amina Wright (Senior Curator) and Suzannah Angelo Sparling (Museum administrator) 
Friday 23 January 2015 : 2.30pm 

I do hope that you will be able to join us for our next training session which will focus on the paintings that line our staircase throughout the Museum.

In addition we will also be looking at how and why we moved our staircase piece by piece across the building during the development. Please do let us know if you are able to join us by emailing volunteers@holburne.org or by letting your Duty Manager know on your next shift.

Chairman of the Council’s Community Awards 2014

This year our submission to BANES Chairman’s Community and Business awards has been accepted and it was announced this week that the Holburne Volunteers have been awarded a nomination for Best Volunteer Team in BANES.

In addition young Volunteer Ben Hill will be joining other young volunteers in the county in the race for Best Young Volunteer in BANES. Ben received a nomination for the hard work and commitment he has shown this year both front of house and with our curatorial department. Well done.

Congratulations to all of you. Your support and hard work is so important to us and you all deserve this accolade so much. We wish you all in luck in the world when the winners are announced on 29 January.

The awards ceremony will take place at the Guildhall and the Holburne was given 6 spaces for our Volunteers to attend.
On Tuesday 6 January 6 names were drawn during the morning volunteer briefing.

The Volunteers joining Ben Hill at the ceremony are
Neil Kennedy, Phoebe Stone, John Green, Sue Clark , Colin Lacey and Andrea Mill Wilson.


Don't make me fry

Among the portraits not currently on display is a fine portrait of a lady by John Michael Wright, who worked at the court of Charles II. 

It used to hang in the old 'Middle Gallery' opposite the windows, in roughly the same position as Wissing's William III in today's Ballroom Gallery. 

Following the redevelopment, we decided not to put it back on display as it has some worrying condition problems.  Late in November I had a visit from the conservator who fully restored the portrait in 1984, and she was very upset to see how badly it had deteriorated since then.  She had spent many hours filling losses in the paint surface, but since then the filler has shrunk and the varnish surrounding it has shattered, leaving flaky white patches all over the picture.

It will cost between £1500 and £2000 to remove and replace the deteriorated filler and varnish.

The damage can only have come about by exposing the paint surface to unacceptably high levels of heat, light or both.  Facing the Ballroom windows, this is very easy to do, simply by failing to control the blinds, particularly when the sun is very strong in high summer or in midwinter, when the sun can set with blinding intensity at the end of Great Pulteney Street. 

Our lovely 17th-century lady suffered long before the museum re-opened in 2011, so nobody here today is to blame.  However, the sun hasn't lost its brightness and the risk to our collections is as great as ever.  Today we all know much more about the effects of sunlight on our skin, and works of art are no less vulnerable. 

So please make it your New Year's Resolution to keep an eye on the weather and lower the blinds whenever necessary.  Don't make our beautiful treasures fry!

Up and Coming Training

Our training for our next exhibition Gwen John to Lucian Freud: Homer and the World : Dexter Dalwood selects from The Swindon Collection (28 Feb—7 June) will take place on Friday 27 February at 10.30am or 2.30pm.

We will be joined by the Curator from Swindon Museum and Art Gallery who will be talking us through this exhibition which forms part of the Frameworks partnership of which we are part of. Our exhibition is the largest in an exciting series of redisplays which highlight modern gems in each of the partner museum collections.

 The series of exhibitions looks at the reality, fantasy, domesticity and foreign lands, place and time, and bodies and stories in modern art. Our partners are: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, The Victoria Art Gallery, Swindon Museum & Art Gallery and The Wilson in Cheltenham. To sign up to a  training slot please email volunteers@holburne.org 

Christmas Jumpers raise eyebrows and money

On Friday 12 December Volunteers and Staff at the Museum were encouraged to wear their Christmas jumper to work to help raise money for the Charity Save the Children.

Volunteers raised £66.10 on that day. Thank you to everyone for your generosity and joining in with the fun.

Rowlandson at Large

This month, watch out for five new labels around the galleries, linking the permanent collection with the Rowlandson exhibition.

To remind our visitors how funny and relevant High Spirits is, we will be adding some short captions to various portraits round the museum linked to Rowlandson and his work.  They feature our poster boy and girl, Dr Convex and Lady Concave, and can be found in the Picture Gallery, on the stairs and on two of the drawers in the Collection Gallery from 5 January.  


Some time ago some of you may remember a group of volunteers helped Steven devise our sustainability policy, which set certain aims that we wanted to achieve. One of them was to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfill.  

The Museum has now entered into a partnership with Bath BID which promises that nothing goes to landfill. That is 0% waste to landfill and all our waste being recycled. This is really exciting news and we should be all proud that our organisation is not polluting the environment in this harmful way.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Review of the Year 2014 - 35,364 Thank You’s

2014 has seen great change for the Holburne Museum and with it challenge and excitement. Through all of this you have all  continued to show the same level of commitment and enthusiasm you have always given. For this we commend you. 

Before we look forward to what is set to be an incredible year for the Holburne, we thought this was a good opportunity to reflect on your achievements and celebrate all that you have done or been involved in. 

We started 2014 with extended hours as the Museum hosted Patrick Woodroffe’s outdoor light installation, Light to Light. Hiring headsets and selling glow sticks to the public you continued to amaze us with your, commitment despite freezing cold temperatures and a sea of mud. 

This first quarter of the year we engaged you in training for three brand new exhibitions 
Joseph Wright of Derby, Bath and Beyond. Picasso in 3D and Kathy Dalwood’s, A Ballroom Banquet. Kathy Dalwood’s exhibition on the Ballroom Table offered the opportunity to 3 of our volunteers to help install her work. 

In February the Volunteers attended the BANES Chairman’s, Business and Community Awards, where once again they had been nominated for ‘Best Volunteer Team in BANES’. We narrowly missed out to worthy opponents ‘Volunteers for Age UK’. 

The spring saw a new recruitment drive for Education Volunteers. After induction and training this new team helped with many of the spring activities including the Easter Art Camps and the annual Easter Eggstravaganza! 

At the end of April another of our Volunteers, Joshua Michael was given a paid position as he replaced Duty Manager Faunsia Tucker, as she moved on to the V&A. Josh has previously been volunteering with us whilst studying at Bath Spa University.

Our summer exhibitions once again saw more opportunities for volunteers to take very hands on approach. Our Julian Opie summer show included outdoor art works which our team of collection cleaners kept beautifully presented. However it was the work of  contemporary artist Tessa Farmer that gave our volunteers some of the most incredible experience we have been able to offer. A team of 5 volunteers joined Tessa and Catrin Jones (curator of Decorative arts) for 10 days as they not only had to remove and replace our central collection in the Posnett Gallery but also install and in some cases create parts of the exhibition ‘Unwelcome Visitors’.  All our gallery stewards rose to the challenge of telling Tessa’s story in the most incredible way to ensure this summer success. 

The Holburne celebrated National Volunteer week with a big summer party in the back garden to say ‘Thank you’ to all of our volunteers. In addition to the evenings celebrations we also honoured a number of our volunteers with outstanding  contribution awards for their on- going commitment and had work. Among the recipients were Trish Tassis, Undine Concannon , Jennifer Bereska and Neil Kennedy.

During the summer the Holburne was approached by Bath Contemporary studios as they began their hunt for a new trainee. After hearing about the Holburne Volunteer programme and the successes that many of its participants have had, they decided that  Instead of advertising this role, they would only offer it to graduates that were volunteering at the Holburne Museum. After putting together a short list and mentoring them through the application and interview process, Volunteer Oliver Adams was awarded the paid  position and began work immediately.

A focus back on the collection formed the last quarter of the year, with training lectures such as Dutch paintings and fascinating facts form our collection. 

The  core team continued to grow as 50 new Volunteers joined the team as well as  students from Bath Spa University, University of Bath, Corsham School and Ralph Allen School.

25 of our Volunteers took part in the annual lantern procession and also continue to support the Up Late series by turning out to keep our galleries open until 9pm on the last Friday in each month. You entered into the Christmas spirit in early November by ensuring our extended Christmas shop could remain open and enjoyed a well-deserved drink at the Volunteer Christmas party.
Phew  - What a Year!
This year you have given us an incredible 35,364 hours of your time and we cannot begin to thank you enough for this. Through challenge, through triumph you have once again made the Holburne Museum one of the most welcoming, interesting and engaging Museums in the country.
Thank you so much, we simply could do anything without your support and commitment.
Wishing  you a Very Merry Christmas and looking forward to sharing all the excitements of 2015 with you  
Spencer, Steven, Georgie and Josh

January Training Lecture

Up the Stairs 
Volunteer Training Session
With Amina Wright (Senior Curator) and Suzannah Angelo Sparling (Museum administrator) 


FRIDAY 23 JANUARY  2015 : 2.30pm
Please ignore date in Spencer email  

During this lecture we will concentrate on the paintings on the landings and staircases. 
In addition Suzannah will talk through how and why we moved our staircase piece by piece during the re development 

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

Why all the questions?

Some of you may be wondering why we have to carry out so many questionnaires throughout the year? The answer is a very simple one….Funding. 

This year we were the lucky recipients of an Arts Council grant for our contemporary programme. This money ensures that we are able to continue showing contemporary shows on our Ballroom Table, in the Wirth, as well as interventions in our collection galleries and in some cases in the garden.

As all of this work is funded, the Arts council requires us to report back on not just the success of the work but also our  process. One of the key parts of this reporting is feedback directly from the public.

I know that sometimes this can be tiresome but please do remember that what you are doing is so very important for the   future of the Holburne and ensuring we continue to gain funding for new and exciting programming across the entire Museum.

Last Minutes

I have to hold my hands up!
I have accidentally deleted our Last Minute list.
This is a list of all of you who have been kind enough to sign up to be asked to come in last minute if we need to find emergency cover. If you would like to go back on the list or perhaps go on it for the first time please do let me know.


Coming in 2015

We have a jammed packed exhibition programme lined up for 2015 which features something for everyone. Here are just some of the highlights from January until the Summer.

Turner Watercolours from the West
10 January to 8 March 2015
Wirth Gallery

This exhibition brings together watercolours by JMW Turner from five important art collections: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, the Holburne Museum and the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath, The Wilson in Cheltenham and a private collection in Somerset. Early works from 1791 to 1793, when Turner spent time in Bristol, are contrasted with later landscapes from the artist's travels round Britain and the Continent.

Gwen John to Lucian Freud. Home and the World
18 February to 7 June  2015
The Roper Gallery

The Holburne Museum presents masterpieces of Modern British Art brought together by contemporary artist Dexter Dalwood.  From striking portraits to reclining nudes and pop art interiors, this exhibition celebrates the response of our greatest artists to the extraordinary changes witnessed in 20th Century Britain.

Nicholas Rena 
21 March to 17 May 2015
The Ballroom Table

'Nicholas Rena is the most ambitious sculptor using ceramic at present in the UK.  He's developed a language of symbolic vessels which he brings together in small installations of great power.' - Edmund de Waal, 2013
Rena proposes to create a large still life composition occupying the 8 metre length of the Ballroom table at the Holburne. The still life, presented in the form of a pediment, will be made up of vessels rising from low at either end to approximately 90 cm high at the centre. This centre will be on the central axis of the Ballroom and Great Pulteney Street beyond.

Canaletto - Celebrating Britain
27 June to 4 October 2015
Roper Gallery and Wirth Gallery

When the Venetian painter Antonio Canal arrived in London in 1746, Britain was booming.  During his nine-year stay, the artist documented a series of new building works, celebrating the latest achievements of British architecture.  The exhibition        includes monumental views of London by Canaletto’s British contemporaries and a section on John Wood’s reinvention of British architecture in Bath. This is set to be a blockbuster stretching from the Roper gallery into the Wirth.

Laura Ellen Bacon—Wicker Installation Galleries/Garden 
Summer  2015

It seems impossible to look at Bacon’s sculptures without asking how they have been made. Their apparent simplicity of form is deceptive and we see on closer inspection that they consist of a complicated  system of knots and weaves,    allowing us to consider their inner structure as well as their outward appearance in much the same way as we regard the pierced, hollow forms of Hepworth and Moore.

Happy Christmas from The Gardener's Lodge Group

As many of you know the gardeners lodge group meets weekly in the Gardener’s Lodge in Sydney Gardens and is part of the Holburne Museum’s outreach programme. This festive scene was created by one of their members Andrew.
The group offers creative opportunities for people who have been affected by homelessness and associated issues including, mental health issues and social isolation.

The group provides a friendly and supportive space in which people can develop their arts skills, be creative and meet other people in a safe environment. The group gets involved in lots of different art projects and exhibitions in Bath and the local area (including Bath Fringe Arts Festival and exhibitions at Bath Artists’ Studios)

The group is always in need of materials to use and is always extremely grateful to receive donations of art materials. If you feel you may be able to pass something on please contact Louise Campion (education outreach officer) at l.campion@holburne.org or by leaving any donations with the information desk.

Thank you and Happy Christmas. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Turner opening in the Wirth 10 January

Our next show in the Wirth Gallery,Turner: Watercolours from the West brings together works from the Holburne Museum, Victoria Art Gallery, the Wilson, and a private collection, and is the first opportunity to see Bristol Museum & Art Gallery’s new acquisition ‘The Mouth of the Avon, Seen from a Cave below Clifton’.

These detailed early Bristol and Bath scenes show the emergence of interests that can still be seen in his looser, more atmospheric later works.

This exhibition is a Frameworks tour raising the profile of five fantastic art collections within an hour’s drive time of each other: Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Holburne Museum, Swindon Art Gallery and Museum, Victoria Art Gallery and The Wilson.

Supported by Arts Council England and Friends of Bristol Art Gallery.

This intimate touring show which has 8 paintings, will be moving on to Cheltenham once it finishes with us on the 8 March. 

Look out for the water colour of Bath Abbey as it also features Gainsborough's home before it was knocked down. 

Watch a video below of the shows curator Dr Jenny Gaschke talking about the exhibition

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Illuminate Bath Returns for 2015

Popular light festival Illuminate Bath will return to the cities streets from 3 January 2015. 
The 10 day festival will flood the streets of Bath with amazing colour and incredible projections and light-scapes.

This year Creative Director Anthony Head will be introducing artist Lyndall Jones to the festival. 

Lyndall will be creating a piece that will be projected on the front of the Holburne Museum from 3 to 10 January.