This post continues the series meeting some of our volunteers here at the Geffrye museum. At the moment we are over 100 people in the volunteer community helping the museum in lots of ways. Three volunteers are Janet, Patrick and Sophie they all support different areas within the museum. One thing they have in common is their love for the museum and that volunteering is a good way for them to give something back. I caught up with Patrick who has been volunteering as an Almshouse tour guide for about three years now.
Patrick first visited the museum ten years ago, when he did his masters in Social Anthropology he discovered why he liked The Geffrye Museum so much: “There’s a number of different reasons, it’s very focused – the main collection is about 400 years of interior design history but focusing on one particularly room so it’s about the parlour, living room or the reception room. It’s also of London’s middle classes, I like that very specific focus of the museum. I don’t particularly like museums that are sort of multi focal. The other things are that the content of the museum matches its’ location. I find it hard feeling a connection when you go to different museums with objects from around the world. Not to say that they are bad museum but I can’t connect with them. And finally the Geffrye is about the home, even though you are homeless, live in an igloo or in a tent anyone can connect to a home or a house, even if you don’t have it. It’s so part of human nature. The desire to have a home however you want to define ‘home’ everyone has it. I like the area here and I like the premises but also the shape of the buildings and the gardens -the green”
Before studying Social Anthropology Patrick worked in the city for different investment banks. Today, he works as a retail assistant in one of the bookshops at Tate Modern and volunteer at the Geffrye. Volunteering keeps him busy and gives him some kind of satisfaction and contentment. He likes that he is learning and picking up skills all along. The Almshouse Tour Guide role spoke to him as he never had done tours before and wanted to learn public speaking. He also feels that the Almshouses are very special: “The museum used to be Almshouses so this was a way of getting to the origins of the building, the premises. It’s a more intimate experience than the permanent collection. You can’t really walk around the period rooms, whereas the Almshouses you can. I also think it’s the social history of the Almshouses that interested me.”
Next week we are introducing Sophie who is a Geffrye Explorer volunteer.
/Maja, Volunteer programme Digital Communications Assistant