A time to say thanks!


Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration (1-7 June) for the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.


Despite being a much smaller team while the museum remains closed, our volunteers still managed to contribute over 2,500 hours to the museum this year; variously supporting the vivarium, conservation and shop teams. In the spirit of Volunteers’ Week this post, compiled by Kate Glynn our Volunteer Manager, brings together a series of messages from various colleagues, paying tribute to our volunteers and their ongoing dedication and support over the last year. After a series of thank you messages, Kate shares some updates about forthcoming volunteer activities and plans for new opportunities as the museum moves closer to reopening.

Leading the appreciation for our volunteers is Manchester Museum’s Director, Esme Ward:

It has been brilliant to welcome back volunteers to the museum this last year and I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you who gives your time, enthusiasm and commitment to Manchester Museum. As we move ever closer to our transformational hello future project, I am looking forward to opening our doors once again and seeing volunteers share their passion for our collections and inspiring visitors in our new spaces and galleries.

We have a small team of brilliant volunteers supporting our Botany department. Here Rachel Webster, Curator of Botany, and Lindsey Loughtman, Curatorial Assistant (Botany), share their thanks and talk about the role of volunteers in the herbarium.

Thank you for helping with our massive plant collection in the herbarium. You are brilliant at accurately cataloguing the botanical specimens, transcribing tricky handwriting in historical documents or carefully placing herbarium sheets in zip lock bags to protect them from beetle infestation. It is a huge amount of work, and is still ongoing, but you’re doing a wonderful job.

Two people surrounded by boxes sticking dired plants to paper

All the work you do to help organise and conserve the collections is invaluable, particularly so while we have been working on content for the new hello future galleries, exhibitions and programmes. It has enabled us to meet the needs of our colleagues and help shape the themes that will appear in the spaces.

Four women stand around an open box of plant drawings

The importance of all the volunteer work in the herbarium also became really obvious during lockdown and our resulting beetle problem. Our best defence against outbreaks is vigilance, and it is wonderful to have many diligent and skilful people who care about this collection. All of your volunteer work is greatly appreciated, and we hope you know that.

The Museum Shop team are wonderfully supportive with Deborah and Amber, two volunteers who have joined the museum through our partnership with Venture Arts. Louise Watson, Retail Manager, and Natacha Pedersen, Merchandiser & Online Shop Coordinator, share the joy that Deborah and Amber bring to their weeks.

Friday is our favourite day of the week as that’s the day Deborah comes in to help the shop. We clean the stockrooms and office and gets lots of Disney songs, fun and giggles in as well. Our days are lighter and more fun anytime Deborah is around. She makes sure we get lots of work done and it’s important that her name is ‘Daniel Craig’ only on Fridays. “That’s not my name to you” she’ll say if we accidentally call her Deborah. There isn’t a lot of product pricing at the moment (one of Deborah’s favourite tasks). She will certainly be thrilled when the Museum reopens and part of her volunteering returns.

Woman sitting at a desk with a computer

Amber has been an amazing shop volunteer for years. When we’re open, she helps with cleaning, pricing, chatting to customers and overall brightening our days. The latter is something she’s continued to do even while the physical shop is only present at pop up events like Levy Market. During her most recent day of volunteering Amber went along with our Hatch intern, Jessica to visit entomology. Diana gave a great tour and Amber loved every minute of it. She hopes to revisit entomology soon!

A woman holds a tray of insects for two women to look at

The Vivarium is very popular amongst our volunteers. With our Live Animal handling paused while we are closed, the team are only able to support a very small number of volunteers behind the scenes. The Vivarium Team – Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology, and our Curatorial Assistants (Vivarium), Matthew O’Donell and Bethany Dean – would like to give a special shout out to our committed volunteer Chris Attewell-Hughes who comes in once a week without fail to help with the husbandry of the live animal collection.

Chris is not only a pleasure to have as part of the team with but his standards are impeccable. We thank him very much for his contribution, and hope that in facilitating his current tadpole research project within the department it will go some way to supporting him.

A man holding a snake

Our conservation volunteers have been hard at work, cleaning and preparing a Japanese Incense burner that will feature in the new Welcome Area when we reopen. Sam Beath, Collections Care Manager and Senior Conservator, who has supported the volunteers, is delighted with their contribution to this project.

The volunteers have been trained to clean our Japanese Incense burner and have nearly helped us complete it, this has been a mammoth task taking over 3 years to finish!

A gloved woman uses a small tool to clean the surface of an ornamental item

They have made a fine contribution to this task and have shown as much care and attention as any trained conservator would. The Incense burner has been transformed by their dedication and which will be proudly displayed in the museum entrance for all to see who come to the museum.

A woman wearing blue gloves works on a large black artefact

Karen Brackenridge, Culture, Health & Wellbeing Assistant, continues to work with our volunteers as they support her in the delivery of numerous museum-based activities including time with Murray, our therapy dog. Karen says:

A woman holds the lead of a dog, sitting on the floor beside her feet

Without our volunteers I could not do what I do….they are active participants in our workshops and together we create an unbelievable friendly atmosphere allowing our visitors to feel at ease straight away.

To Deborah and Team Joe: Thank You so much for all your efforts and support… I could not do what I do without you! We deliver caring therapeutic activity together… and I always #FunctionWellAndFeelGood when you are with me! Looking forward to creating our hello future adventures together!

Four people stand around a large bone, one is helping the man to clean it

Karen also adds how Team Joe have played a leading role in turning our plans to create Changing Places accessible personal care facilities into a reality: an incredibly important part of our new facilities. We all thank them for their contribution for this and look forward to sharing their hard work.

Museum Volunteers: An update from Kate

To mark Volunteers Week we are delighted to be launching volunteer-led object sessions at Central Library where the museum’s Young, Rich and Famous exhibition is currenlty on show. Volunteers have collaborated with Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and Sudan, to put together a collection of objects that will further add to the visitor experience and give our volunteers the opportunity to talk about the museum’s hello future transformation and our reopening next year.

We have been working closely with our marketing team on the launch of a volunteer recruitment campaign for reopening; hello future presents an unique opportunity for us to grow, diversify and expand the reach of our volunteer programme, so watch this space for further details in the coming months.

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