Getting to know our volunteers - Michelle Golding
How long have you been a Museum volunteer?
About a year – I joined the museum soon after I arrived in Melbourne. I initially signed up for a volunteer shift every Sunday but reduced that to alternate Sundays once I started full time employment.
What is your current volunteering position?
Front of House, meet and greet, gift shop sales. I have also helped out in the office with database updates, and with book signings and exhibition launches. I am currently being trained to be a gallery and shule tour guide.
What is your favourite part about volunteering for the Museum?
Being proud to be part of the Melbourne Jewish community and meeting amazing people. The other volunteers and staff are lovely and the visitors very interesting and diverse. Volunteers also have the opportunity to be part of the national Mitzvah Day events.
What has most surprised you about the Museum?
The depth and diversity of information and exhibitions. It is great that we give visitors the opportunity to go on a shule tour as, for many people, this is the first time they have been inside a synagogue.
Do you have interesting stories from your volunteering experiences?
A (non-Jewish) visitor asked me to explain the photos he had of family gravestones with Hebrew inscriptions. I translated and explained them and he was then able to go off and explore his ancestry and new Jewish family links.
Another visitor brought in a very old harmonica and asked if I knew about the company that made it as it had a Star of David as part of the manufacturer’s stamp. Whilst he went off on the shule tour, I Googled the company and found that it was not actually a Jewish company although they did include a variety of pointed stars as part of their manufacturer’s stamp on musical equipment. The visitor was happy with this information although disappointed that the company didn’t have any Jewish connections.
Do you have a favourite part of the Museum?
There are many great exhibits and information boards within the museum and the Calling Australia Home has helped me with my local cultural knowledge. I am also impressed with the variety of goods for sale in the gift shop and recently purchased kippot with a kangaroo design for my family in the UK.
What do you think of the exhibitions?
All of the exhibitions that I have seen in the past year have been very good and there is something for everyone to learn. I am particularly excited that we will be the only museum in Australia to host the Amy Winehouse exhibition in October.
Do you think volunteering is worthwhile, and if so, why?
I believe that volunteering is a great way of being part of the community and giving something back. Volunteering is a Jewish value that we should all undertake in whatever form we can.
What would you say to someone considering volunteering for the Museum?
We need more young people to volunteer at the museum. Don’t wait until you retire and have lots of free time on your hands, volunteer now even if you are studying or working. Start with a few hours a month and see how you can fit it into your busy life. Time is the most valuable commodity you have and by volunteering at the museum you are helping yourself and others to have a wonderful Jewish community experience.
Learn more about volunteering with the Museum by clicking here.
OR if you would like to be part of our incredible team, please contact Visitor Services and Volunteer Coordinator, Katherine Bruce:
Phone: (03) 8534 3619