Volunteers help the Park City museum fulfill its duties
February 27, 2016
The Park City Museum, located at 528 Main St., is a three-story building that features 12,000 square feet of exhibits that include a basement jail, a permanent gondola and a mine diorama that stretches up the mezzanine.
It also features a gift shop and offers community events and historic tours inside and outside the building.
With so much going on, the permanent staff of five needs help. That’s why they love volunteers and docents, said the museum’s new education director, Diane Knispel. (See story titled "Museum’s education director acclimating to her new surroundings").
"We could not do anything without the volunteers," Knispel told The Park Record. "We have such a small staff and we need volunteers all year long."
Volunteers can be of any responsible age, Knispel said.
"Most of our volunteers are older and retired and have the time to give, but we also are open to younger people who would like to donate their time as well," she said.
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With that said, volunteers don’t have a time requirement to fulfill.
"We just ask the volunteers to volunteer when they can," Knispel said. "We just ask them to call us with their availabilities and we’ll put them on the schedule."
Duties include guiding patrons through the gallery, guiding tours, helping with cataloging and events, and more.
"Many of our volunteers are gallery guides," Knispel explained. "They’ll introduce people to the museum who haven’t been here before and let them know about the jail in the basement and that they can also visit our mezzanine upstairs."
While one guide is often sufficient Mondays through Wednesdays, there are usually two gallery guides on duty Thursday through Sunday, according to Knispel.
"We also like to have more if there is a holiday or vacation like Christmas break," she said. "During those times, we’ll ask more guides to help us out, and we’re always looking for guides because we have shifts that we can’t cover."
Volunteers are also needed as school guides that will lead classes of children through the museum.
"I figure out how many kids and schools are coming and then figure out how many docents we need," Knispel said. "We also ask volunteers to lead after-school tours. Those groups include Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and other local organizations come in for tours."
Volunteers also lead family reunions or business tours.
"We get many calls from visitors who want a group tour and we’ll have the volunteers taken them around the whole museum," Knispel said.
During the warmer months volunteers are needed every day to lead Historic Main Street tours.
"Those start in June and run through September," Knispel said.
Other volunteer duties that require working with the public include manning the museum’s front desk and gift shop as well as helping with special events, including the annual Silver Queen Ball fundraiser in December and the Historic Home Tour that is usually offered in June.
"These are times when we need a lot of extra hands," Knispel said.
There are also duties for volunteers who don’t want to work with the public.
"As you know, our research coordinator (Mahala Ruddell) is in charge of finding volunteers to write articles for The Park Record‘s ‘The Way We Were’ column, and we also have people who work with the museum’s expansive collection," Knispel said. "They make sure that the items are cataloged and recorded correctly."
Although Park City Museum is focused on preserving, promoting and protecting the area’s heritage, volunteers aren’t required to have an in-depth knowledge of history –Knispel will train them.
"We host docent workshops and I give them a binder of information that they can learn from and show them things they need to memorize," she said. "If the timing doesn’t work for some who are interested in volunteering, they can call me and I’ll train them personally on my own."
The next docent workshop will be held on Thursday, March 2, from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the museum.
"When the trainers get familiar with the museum, they will be asked to follow experienced volunteers around," Knispel said. "They will be able to observe someone else doing a job and learn that way."
Once the training is over, most volunteers start out as a gallery guide.
"That is one of the easiest things, because all they need to know is basic information," Knispel said. "When they start getting acquainted with the museum and want to do more, like a full tour, we’ll let them do that."
People interested in volunteering at the Park City Museum can call Knispel at 435-649-7475 ex. 102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I will be happy to go through the process with them," she said. "It’s not a long process, either. It’s just finding out what area they want to work in. We want to find what’s best for the volunteers."
The Park City Museum, 528 Main St., will host volunteer training workshops on Thursday, March 3, from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.parkcityhistory.org.
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