AGWA’s trainee volunteer guides were all inspired to join the team for incredibly different reasons. Some are studying art history, some are successful artists themselves, and some have fostered a lifelong love of art history that they want to share with others. Many were inspired to become a guide after taking one of the dynamic and interactive Gallery Walk-in Tours for themselves, or after hearing about the joys of leading tours from their volunteer friends. Whatever their reasons to volunteer, the volunteer guide program enables people from all walks of life to share their knowledge, passion and enthusiasm with members of the public who are keen to learn more.
The new generations of guides that are welcomed at each intake continues a long tradition of volunteering at AGWA. For over 35 years, volunteers have played a vital role in the day-to-day activities at the Gallery. The Voluntary Guiding Scheme originated with a group of ten volunteers who came together in 1976 in order to research the Gallery’s history. In 1977 they were asked to escort groups of school children through major exhibitions and the following year their position was formalised. Today they number approximately 80, and are an integral part of the Gallery team.
AGWA has welcomed over 25 new guides for 2013, and their year-long training program is now well underway. The trainees meet at the Gallery each fortnight for a tailored program of lectures and discussions. As part of their training they are also given a fortnightly opportunity to present an assignment on a particular artist or artwork. They learn not only about the history of art, but also about how to talk about art with members of the public. As one guide says, “they get you to see things you haven’t seen before.” The training process is all about being “taught to look in a new way.”
Already, the trainee guides are excited about giving tours to the public next year. They have endless praises to sing of AGWA’s guided tours program, which “is far more interactive and involved than any gallery I have ever visited.” As trainee guide Luka Deroyter says, the guides are “on a journey” themselves. They want the experience to be about “empowering the viewer” and opening up a forum of discussion. It is this more friendly approach that AGWA has become known for Australia-wide. The guides are most certainly experts, but instead of telling the audience what to think about a piece of art, the guides pose a number of questions (to which they don’t purport to have all the answers!). Guided tours at AGWA are about interactivity, involvement, and colourful discussion about art for everyone.
Although every guide is motivated to volunteer for a different reason, there is one thing they all have in common: a fervent and unbridled passion for art history that they can’t wait to share with you.
Find out more about volunteering opportunities here.
For information on guided tours for Picturing New York, click here.