By Martha Bradshaw

Blanton volunteers help our staff fulfill the museum’s promise to provide welcoming and life-enhancing experiences with art to all visitors. And if you think you’re seeing new volunteers when you visit the museum, you are! In 2013, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in new (and younger) volunteers —including a supportive collaboration with the National Charity League (NCL), a service organization consisting of mothers and their teenage daughters.

How the National Charity League Helps

National Charity League volunteers at the Blanton.

National Charity League volunteers at the Blanton.

This year, NCL volunteers have been helping the Blanton with family activities. Teen girls with their mothers are coming to the Blanton (eight at a time) all summer to assist the museum’s family programs team in the Art Lab, at the Family Creativity Center, greeting at the Information Desks, and helping with lockers and strollers.

This collaboration is making a huge impact on the museum’s ability to greet visitors, especially on busy family days. We had 2,000 visitors to the museum on our recent Third Thursday in July, including 80 participants in the Story Time Tours and almost 200 guests in the open studio Art Lab. We want every visitor’s experience to be extraordinary, and the NCL volunteers are helping to make that happen. Many mother/daughter teams came in May for training, and others are doing a quick training before their shifts or learning on the job. Some have helped with behind-the-scenes preparation while others are helping young artists enjoy their time at the museum. It’s proving to be a really good fit for the museum.

In addition to helping us on site, these 300 NCL members are helping with outreach. Since we have visitors from dozens of zip codes in Austin and Travis County, as well as Williamson and other surrounding counties, it’s especially nice to have these new volunteer ambassadors heading back to their various communities throughout Austin to spread the word about Blanton exhibitions and activities. There is nothing like a personal recommendation to get new visitors to come to the museum. We even promoted our new family tour called “Deeper Dives” through this group in May and are happy that the tours and activities for older children ages 8 – 13 are filled every week and sometimes have a wait list.

After a year of supporting Austin Museum Day, Holiday Family Days, Explore UT, Blanton Fifty Fest, and summer family programs at the museum — we can truly say that the National Charity League women and girls have helped us celebrate our 50th year in style. They have brought fresh energy, youthful enthusiasm and definitely new faces to the volunteer program. If you see them on your next visit to the museum, please thank them for the time they have donated.

How You Can Volunteer at the Blanton
To apply for a spot as a Blanton volunteer, visit the volunteer page on the Blanton’s website. Or email to find out about the next volunteer orientation session. Orientations are held once a month at the museum.

Martha Bradshaw is manager of visitor and volunteer services at the Blanton, supervising 200 volunteers and 15 paid staff members. She holds an MBA in Marketing and Management from UT and has worked in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in museums, galleries, and advertising. Her masters thesis was on management of art museums.

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