In the courtyard of the Western Australian Museum Shipwreck Galleries this afternoon, a group of talented individuals gathered for a Christmas function. This wasn’t yet another raucous Christmas office party. These were invited guests of the WA Museum to recognise their valuable contribution to the museum as volunteers.
Earlier in the year I wrote about my experience as a volunteer guide at WA Museum’s A Day in Pompeii blockbuster exhibition which is the museum’s most successful exhibition to date. During my time I had heard whispers of other volunteers at the WA Museum but I never succeeded in finding them. Not surprising as I was busy with helping visitors around the WA Museum during my shifts. I recently added to my volunteering experience at the recent opening of the Welcome Walls at the WA Maritime Museum where 8,000 people attended.
This afternoon I was in the same room with many of WA Museum’s volunteers, many of them long-serving. Volunteers were recognised for 5, 10 and even 15 years of contribution. One couple, Peter and Jill Worsley were recognised for 25 years of volunteer service each. That’s 50 years of contribution between them!
Museum volunteers and Honorary Associates, Peter and Jill Worsley have undertaken research on the many shipwrecks along the Western Australian coast. Their involvement started by being members of the Maritime Archeology Association of Western Australia where they carried out volunteer diving for the WA Museum. Their work has resulted in the publication of a book titled, A Windswept Coast: Western Australia’s Maritime Heritage Between the Moore River and the Zuytdorp Cliffs, which was nominated for the Western Australian’s Premier’s Book Awards.
Though not all their activities have been research. It has also included trips to some of the most pristine areas of Western Australia. “One of my fondest memories include taking students to the Abrolhos Islands.” Jill said.
Peter and Jill were keen to thank the Maritime Archaeology staff for their contribution. “We couldn’t have done it without their support and encouragement.”
“Volunteers are our biggest advocates. I offer a heartfelt thank you to the volunteers from myself and my colleagues.” WA Museum CEO Alec Coles OBE said in a congratulatory speech.
Alec Coles has been in his role as CEO at the WA Museum for eight months and has seen some big achievements in this time. He witnessed the queue of people snaking from the foyer of the WA Museum through the Perth Cultural Centre. While the Day in Pompeii exhibit was the largest event on the calendar, two other events stand out in memory.
“I was overwhelmed to see 8000 people turning up at the Welcome Walls opening ceremony. I am also proud to see the opening of the new displays at Albany after the renovations at the site.” said Alec Coles.
Alec’s move from the UK to Western Australia has provided him with some lifelong memories.
“On my first day of work in March I was sitting in Minister for Culture and Arts, John Day’s office when the hail storm hit and smashed my car. I’ve only just got it back. And I will never forget my first visit to Kalgoorlie. Just after the plane landed while we were sitting on the tarmac of the airport, the biggest earthquake hit.”
Alec has also had the opportunity to land on Abrolhos Island.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life. I moved to Western Australia for the diversity of archeology, culture and landscapes. The Abrolhos encapsulates this perfectly. The colours are so vivid.”
The WA Museum is made up of six museums across Western Australia. They can be found in Perth CBD, Fremantle, Albany, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Each of these specialise in the local history and culture of the locations and the contribution to the rest of the nation and global impact. There is much on offer and there is always something to discover, even for seasoned visitors like myself. And who knows, the museum guide you speak to may just be one of the many volunteers working for the WA Museum.