Tayside Museums’ Forum Volunteer Conference

On the 5th June, 93 volunteers from all over Tayside descended upon Dalhousie Building at the University of Dundee for a one day event to celebrate the work volunteers do in the region and to give them a chance to meet fellow volunteers from other museums, tell everyone about what they do and share ideas and best practice. The day was also about providing opportunities for training in basic museum skills and offering practical guidance on how to tackle key museum tasks. This was a great example of sharing knowledge within the sector with a number of museum professionals who are involved with the forum offering their expertise in a range of workshops throughout the day.

Due to funding from the Skills Development Fund, a new Museums Galleries Scotland investment stream, the conference was free to attend with a £12 charge for lunch and refreshments throughout the day. The Tayside Museums’ Forum is a constituted body representing all the museums in the local authority areas of Dundee, Angus and Perth & Kinross that either have Accreditation or are working towards Accreditation. The Forum applied to the Skills Development Fund for a grant to cover keynote speaker Tony Butler from the Museum of East Anglian Life and to cover the costs of volunteers’ travel to the University of Dundee. The venue was given free of charge.

In addition to the keynote, the day was divided into short case study presentations by volunteers from each member museum and practical workshops or seminars on a range of topics including:

  • Collection Handling
  • Social Networking
  • Applying for Grants
  • Friends Groups and Attracting Volunteers
  • Interacting with Visitors
  • Fundraising
  • Managing Volunteer Projects
  • Preventive Conservation and Environmental Monitoring
  • Accreditation Applications
  • Volunteer Roles

The event not only made the participants feel more valued and inspired but gave them more confidence and knowledge to tackle a wide range of museum tasks. Feedback from the volunteers on the day included ‘ “A very good day”, “Great!”, “I have really enjoyed the conference today – would love to attend another event in the future”,”An excellent event which should be repeated if possible”. All organisational time was given in-kind by members of the Forum.

Catherine and I arrived just after lunch and entered into a buzzing atmosphere with lots of laugh and chats – the day had clearly been going really well! We sat through the case study presentations and thoroughly enjoyed hearing the great work being done by volunteers. We also sat in on one of the workshops being led by Matthew Jarron of the University of Dundee Museum and Emma Halford-Forbes,the Blackwatch Regimental Museum in Perth . The session was interesting and Emma and Matthew shared their insight and experience with Accreditation. This sort of information is invaluable for volunteers who find themselves responsible for such major tasks.
The conference would not have been so successful without the support of funding from the Skills Development Fund – Matthew stressed that the application process was very simple and straightforward. The fund is available to apply to on a rolling basis and is for skills development partnership projects. We will fund all types of skills development and training activites up to 100% including board development, formal training courses, skills sharing, conferences, mentoring etc. Please do contact Wendy West or Catherine Cartmell, Skills Development Managers if you would like to discuss your ideas for the fund. Our details can be found on our staff listings page.

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