Volunteers play a major role in Third Space, the Museum’s largest exhibition of contemporary art from the collection. They serve as gallery attendants and enhance the visitor experience by providing instruction for the Museum’s revamped smartguide, a web-based platform that serves as a quick guide to artworks in the exhibition. The smartguide features quick facts on the artworks and artists, additional photos, audio clips from members of the Birmingham community, artist videos, and more. Gallery attendants are available to check out the Museum’s iPad Minis to visitors or help them access the smartguide on their own devices.
Third Space gallery attendants come from all walks of life, from retirees to teens in the Teen BMA volunteer program. Volunteer training was held before Third Space opened to the public, so they saw a sneak peak of the exhibition on a private tour with Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Many volunteers are art or art history students at local colleges and were especially interested in learning about the job of a curator and how the exhibition came together. Kelly Gentry, who recently received a graduate degree in art history from UAB, has enjoyed her experience as a first-time volunteer at the Museum.
“As a recent graduate, I volunteered to stay fresh and learn more about contemporary art,” Gentry said. “I also love the Museum and spending time here.”
In addition to assisting visitors with the smartguide, gallery attendants are available to answer questions and engage in conversations about the artworks. During their training, the volunteers were reminded that contemporary art lends itself to the interpretation of the viewer. This helps volunteers and visitors feel more empowered to have casual conversations about the works in the exhibition, which can make the visit a more rewarding experience for everyone.
Third Space will be on view for two years. To register for the next gallery attendant training session, contact Lindsey Hammel at firstname.lastname@example.org.