On the 20th of May, the Petrie Museum, a part of UCL Museums, hosted a workshop for children called ‘What’s in a Name?’, where young children were invited to learn how to write their name in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics by creating a clay impression. There is a large team which makes events like these possible, including the workshop facilitators and the coordinators, as well as UCL volunteers who are present at these events – like Xiran Wang.
Xiran, who studied Psychology with Education at UCL, has been volunteering at the museums on campus since October of 2021. She initially decided to volunteer because of her great interest in galleries and museums. She felt that this would be a great opportunity to get behind the scenes of how museums like these operate and function.
On this particular day at the Petrie Museum, Xiran’s role involved a more behind the scenes perspective into the workshop. Once the children have finished stamping their clay, she temporarily took their artwork, place it on a plastic film, and create two photocopies of their work – one for them to take home, and one which she would hang up on a board to be displayed for the following children arriving at the workshop.
What skills have you gained throughout your volunteering experiences at the UCL museums?
I have gained several skills while volunteering at various museums. However, I would have to say that communication has been one of the most important skills to me. While the staff team is not extremely large, there is a lot of cooperation required between the staff members, which has helped me work better in a team.
In addition, I’ve had the opportunity to welcome any visitors arriving at the museums. I have improved my confidence because of it!
What is your favourite aspect of volunteering at these museums?
Firstly, the staff members are amazing. They are so knowledgeable and friendly. There is a large variety of people from various fields, with different specialisms within that field. I enjoy getting an insight into these fields to increase my knowledge on them, and I love being in this environment. Despite volunteering since 2021, I am still trying to take it all in!
Is there a certain memorable moment that stands out when looking back at your various volunteering experiences at the museums?
This moment would have to be when I helped out at the UCL Zoology Museum during a family event. It must have been sometime last year. Children and their families were invited to attend a yoga session in which they had to stand in several poses which mimicked the stance of various animals. There were so many smiles and laughs across the room, it was an incredibly fun event to be a part of.
Are there any challenges you face while volunteering?
The most challenging issue I face is that my field of knowledge is psychology and education, therefore I am not as knowledgeable about all the various museum fields like archaeology and zoology. Yet, I take this as an opportunity to gain new knowledge of these fields – there is always, always more to learn. And it is still taking time to learn. But it is an exciting challenge!
I take this as an opportunity to gain new knowledge of these fields – there is always, always more to learn!
Thank you to Xiran for sharing her volunteering experience! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with UCL Museums, you can learn more about them and future roles here!