From the very beginning, volunteers have played an instrumental role in the Cynon Valley Museum. From campaigning to reopen to embedding the museum in our community, volunteers have been essential, and we would like to say thank you to every single volunteer.
Saved and Run by Volunteers
The Museum was saved and reopened by volunteers. With the museum closed our community came together, people volunteered to campaign and from this emerged the first board of trustees which established the Cynon Valley Museum Trust. The journey to reopening the museum in September 2016 was well on its way. Without these initial volunteers who came to the museum’s aid at its lowest point, we might not have the museum we have today.
Welcomed by Volunteers
From the reopening of the museum to the present day, volunteering has been an important part of who we are. If you have visited the museum you will have seen some of the volunteers behind the front desk, offering warm welcomes, and helping you get to where you are going. Our volunteers on the front desk are invaluable. They also help us raise money for the museum through taking donations, selling museum lottery tickets and operating the museum’s shop. The simple truth is the museum would not be the same without our volunteers on the front desk. We would be open much less and our museum would be quiet.
Preserved by Volunteers
The collection held at the museum would not look the same without volunteers. Since we have reopened, Cynon Valley Museum volunteers have made the museum’s collection more accessible. Volunteers have reviewed the collection, updated records and organised the collection. Collection volunteers have continued to work with the collection, if you have enquired about donating an artefact to the museum you are likely to have met our collection volunteers who respond to enquiries and process the donation, updating records and storing it in the museum safely and securely.
Researched by Volunteers
Thanks to the collection volunteers, the collection can be searched, both by us, members of the community and our partners. Some of our favourite exhibitions have been researched with help of volunteers. This year’s exhibition on Aberdare Park and our rugby exhibition “In the Land of Our Fathers” were both impossible without the support of volunteers both from the museum and outside. Our collection volunteers researched the objects to go on display whilst others at Aberdare Camera Club and Friends of Aberdare Park created their portions of the exhibition.
Volunteers from external partners have been able to explore the collection and research key parts of our heritage. Volunteers from the Jewish History Association of South Wales have researched and updated records, identifying material relating to Jewish heritage and ensuring those records reflect this. This has created more accessible records and has and will produce digital exhibitions on prominent Jewish figures from our valley’s history we have already seen on Victor Freed, there are more to come!
Curated by Volunteers
It has not only been the collection that has seen our volunteers help define and enhance it. In 2019 the museum launched Cynon Curadur. This is a programme to ensure that art exhibitions at the museum are curated by people from the Cynon Valley. The first exhibition was our 2019 Winter Exhibition. The exhibition was solely curated by people from the valley. Since then they have been involved in every physical exhibition, supporting artists to exhibit.
Every year our museum is used by external organisations to give and serve the Cynon Valley community. You may have taken your child to First Steps playgroup or attend the WI Craft group or you may have joined a support group at the museum. These groups are either volunteer-led or have a significant volunteer component. The museum would be a lot quieter without our amazing partners who do so much for the community.
Volunteering during Covid-19
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the past year has been slightly different for the museum, however, our volunteers have been there to help us adapt and improve every step of the way.
During our first reopening in November 2020, our volunteers were instrumental in opening our doors again after being closed since March 2020.
They assisted with ensuring all Covid-19 guidelines were followed, including highlighting the new processes to the visitors such as Track and Trace, a one-way system, regular hand sanitising. They were equipped to ensure visitors were kept safe and informed, during a difficult and uncertain time for everyone.
Most importantly, they kept morale high by ensuring everyone felt comfortable and happy to be in the museum again.
Since December we have unfortunately been closed again, which means they have no longer been able to help out on site. However, they have been working hard to keep our audience engaged online in the history and heritage of the Cynon valley.
Throughout 2020/21 our volunteers have been researching and writing our ‘Stories from the Collection’ blogs which focus on telling stories of the different items in our collection and the history of the Cynon Valley. Thanks to our volunteers we have been able to share and preserve important information about our community, its history, and cultural heritage. Over the last year, we have gone from having very little online presence to attracting and engaging audiences in the local community and further afield!
Some examples include (add links to all):
- Mr. G.I. John’s Wagon Models, written by Geraint Lewis
- Photography imitating art, written by Wendy Donovan
- A Lloyd George Bread and Butter Plate, written by Gill Thomas
- The Life of Bernard Baldwin, Founder of the Nos Galan Races, written by Robert Glare
- Jazz Bands of the South Wales Valley, written by Geoffrey Evans
Furthermore, when we reopen, our volunteers will play an instrumental role in ensuring the enjoyment and safety of all visitors at the museum once again!
We look forward to being able to bring back volunteering to the museum building when we reopen. From a welcoming face when you arrive, the collection volunteers researching and preserving our heritage and the dedicated volunteers who are using the museum to serve the community- volunteering will remain an indispensable part of our identity and that of the Cynon Valley. Our community is strongest when it comes together, volunteering brings us all together.
How Can You Support Cynon Valley Museum?
If you are interested in volunteering remotely whilst the museum is closed or would like to sign up ready to be contacted when we reopen please follow the link to get in contact. If you would like to support the museum you can share our posts on social media, chose to use Amazon Smile or you could make a monthly or one off donation to the museum.