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Manasvini Moni is a third-year student studying BSc Human Sciences. She told us her experience of volunteering with UCL Culture Museums as a Front of House volunteer and how she found volunteering in a museum during the pandemic restrictions. 

Tell us a little about your volunteering.

I am a Front of House volunteer for for UCL Museums, under UCL Culture. I have shifts once every couple of weeks in the Grant and Petrie Museums on campus. 

How did you find out about the role?

I found out about the role through the UCL Culture website.

Why did you want to become a volunteer? 

I wanted to become a volunteer for a few reasons - I had a pretty uneventful summer and had the urge to go outside and help people after months of being confined to the indoors! I also was particularly interested in gaining some experience with museums and public engagement, as I am very interested in science communication. 

What difference do you feel you’ve made by volunteering?

As a volunteer, I feel like I have definitely made an impact on visitor experience in the museums.

My role has been important to make sure that people feel safe, supported and most importantly have fun and engage with the objects in the museum without the looming fear of a pandemic. 

What impact has volunteering had on you?

Volunteering at UCL culture has been fantastic so far. I feel more educated and informed not only about Zoology and Egyptology, but on the ins and outs of museum visitor service. 

What’s the best thing about volunteering?

One of the best things for me has been meeting new people. From the lovely UCL culture team to my fellow volunteers, it has been nice to engage with like-minded people. 

And the most challenging? How did you overcome the challenges?

The most challenging aspect has been figuring out how to walk the line between offering a safe and fun environment for visitors. Thankfully, most visitors have been great about social distancing within the venue, but it is challenging to balance being welcoming and enforcing guidelines. 

Tell us about something memorable that’s happened to you whilst volunteering.

It is hard to pick one instance, but I did distinctly enjoy learning the story of a particularly mysterious specimen in the Grant Museum that for many years was thought to be an animal testicle of some sort but ended up being really well-preserved plum brandy!

How has COVID-19 impacted your volunteering and how has it changed what you do?

I started volunteering after the start of Covid and it continues to form an essential part of my role as a Front of House volunteer from ensuring social distancing to sanitising spaces in the museum. Covid essentially changed how the museum operates, now relying on hourly bookings for a limited number of people. It is amazing to be able to continue having visitors, albeit in different circumstances.

 Would you recommend volunteering? If so, why?

I would definitely recommend volunteering. It is an enjoyable way to meet new people and learn new skills in a low stakes environment. It is also a good break from the day to day of academic life.

If you want to find an opportunity that relates to your academic interests or your passions like Manasvini, check out all the available volunteering roles on our directory!