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Volunteering for vital museum work

September 24, 2017

Restoring relics

Restoring relics:  Retiree Lee Choi-leung (right) volunteers at the Museum of History to do heritage conservation work.

Precise procedures

Precise procedures:  Mr Lee says the work has rekindled his interest in chemistry.

Visitor educator

Visitor educator:  Museum Volunteer Scheme participant George Gog distributes promotional leaflets outside museums in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Community outreach

Community outreach:  Leisure & Cultural Services Department Marketing & Business Development Director Cynthia Mo says museum volunteers help the department connect with the public.

Visitors to Hong Kong's 19 museums have been enjoying even better services of late, thanks to an expanded team of volunteers who are helping to run the facilities.

 

Volunteer Lee Choi-leung works at the Museum of History every week, conserving ancient books and other artefacts.

 

"When I was a secondary student, I liked studying history a lot. When I first came here, I was assigned to work on the Chinese history books the Twenty-Four Histories. I felt honoured to take part in preserving historic literature."

 

Ad hoc assistance

The Leisure & Cultural Services Department began recruiting volunteers like Mr Lee for its museums on an ad hoc basis more than a decade ago.

 

Mr Lee became a volunteer in 2015.

 

Besides history, he said the conservation work has rekindled his interest in chemistry.

 

"I stopped studying chemistry after secondary school. That's why I have learned a lot from my conservation work at the Museum of History.

 

"Take the conservation of a paper artefact as an example. What materials are used to preserve it? Many factors including the temperature and light during the conservation process affect the outcome.

 

"The more I learn, the more interest I have in conservation work."

 

Nurturing novices

To formalise its volunteer recruitment, the department launched the Museum Volunteer Scheme in March.

 

It trains participants to work in Hong Kong's museums.

 

Retiree George Gog is one of the scheme's new recruits.

 

When he first worked as a museum volunteer, his main job duties included distributing promotional leaflets and doing crowd control.

 

"I have visited all 19 museums in Hong Kong. On overseas visits, I also like visiting museums as I can see and learn many things.

 

"Many people visit museums. I like interacting with people. I gain a lot of satisfaction from helping others.

 

"I feel a sense of achievement in serving the department with what I have learned from my training."

 

The department has recruited more than 600 volunteers through the scheme so far.

 

They work with the 200 helpers who were volunteering at museums before the scheme's launch.

 

Recruit requirements

Participants must be adults with good communication skills.

 

They also have to be passionate about museum work and be willing to help others.

 

Job duties include receiving visitors, managing museum collections, maintaining exhibits, and organising education activities and workshops.

 

The department's Marketing & Business Development Director Cynthia Mo said volunteers act like a bridge between museums and the community.

 

"They come from the community. Being museum visitors themselves, they know what visitors want.

 

"They can tell the museums and their curators the visitors' needs and preferences."

 

After the volunteers learn about the museums' operation they can serve as promotion ambassadors.

 

"Then our museums will have a stronger connection with the community."

 

The department may launch more recruitment drives in future to give people the chance to learn about museum operation and to allow them to participate in cultural education work.



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Hong Kong Public Museums