Our readings from this week reminded me how important it is for museum staff to work well with volunteers and interns. It’s not enough to simply have volunteers. Museum staff need to work hard to integrate volunteers with the rest of the team to help build strong community relationships. This article in the Detroit Free Press is just another reminder of how important it is to attract and maintain good relations with volunteers. Elizabeth Verdow, a former art teacher, devoted 19 years to the Detroit Institute of Arts. She loved the museum so much that she bequest the DIA $1.71 million ($1.26 million to buy contemporary art paintings and sculpture and $450,000 to be put in the museum’s endowment for annual operations). The museum staff were not expecting this gift and naturally were quite moved by Verdow’s generosity. I think what struck me the most about this article was this statement:
“It shows you how meaningful we can be to people, and that sometimes we have no idea how much they love us until they’re gone.”
I think this is a good reminder that museums need to continue to strengthen community relations, especially with volunteers and interns, because you never know what these relationships can do for the museum in the future.