Creating a new Volunteer Programme

27 05 2014

Creating a new Volunteer Programme

Whitworth Volunteer Coordinator Fee Cariss is busy recruiting and training a team of volunteers to assist at the Whitworth when we reopen in Autumn 2014 – here she tells us all about it.

‘After heading up the volunteer programme for the Manchester International Festival in 2013 and managing a portion of the thousands of Games Makers for the Olympics London 2012, I am very excited to produce and develop a new volunteer programme for the redeveloped Whitworth Art Gallery.

I want to create and give opportunities for volunteers to learn, develop and make a difference when volunteering for the Whitworth. Recruiting an enthusiastic and dedicated team of diverse individuals, bringing them together in creating the best volunteers in Manchester!

Volunteers will be at the heart of the new Whitworth and anyone can get involved in lots of different ways from supporting artists, getting hands-on and creative, intimate workshops through to large scale events, behind the scenes, art-gardening and helping with our children, family and adult programmes.

New roles to support our future plans are currently being developed and one of the roles we have in place will be Volunteer Art Gardeners; the maintenance and upkeep of the landscaped areas created by Sarah Price will be down to team of dedicated and enthusiastic arty gardener volunteers. They will get the chance to work closely with Sarah, be fully trained by gardening professionals and get their hands dirty being outdoors in our glorious Manchester weather!

The new Collections Access Area will also be key to volunteer input and assistance. The purpose of this role is to support the widespread use of the Collections Access Area and provide increased access to the collections of the Whitworth Art Gallery for all our visitors. Trained volunteers will encourage direct engagement with collections and create a meeting with visitors of all ages. This is an amazing opportunity to get to know the Whitworth’s Collection and work alongside our curators.

We will also be launching teams of Family volunteers. Getting families together of all ages from grandma’s to dad’s and from teenagers to toddlers, the volunteers will be involved across the board from helping deliver sessions, peer to peer learning, to family bloggers helping promote and reflect on our sessions for other families.

And of course, to support our producer Alex Rinsler in the launching of the Gallery’s opening weekend, Event volunteers will play a crucial part in assisting with the expansion of the Gallery and importance of getting the word out to the general public. They will then go on to assist with the other events, big and small, which we will be holding throughout the year.

Other opportunities will include volunteer assisted Walking for Health tours and lots of creative roles alongside our Learning and Engagement Team.

My aims have always been for volunteers to have fun and ensuring everyone achieves their motivations for getting involved so I will be making sure I meet and chat with everyone coming onboard and putting them in a role I hope they love!

Team Volunteer at a recent Whitworth Pub Quiz

Team Volunteer at a recent Whitworth Pub Quiz

We are looking to recruit over 100 volunteers, providing training and inductions throughout September ready for our opening in Autumn,

Being from Manchester and having visited the Whitworth Art Gallery since I was a little girl I am very much looking forward to seeing, and working in, Manchester’s new gallery in the park!’

Register your interest in volunteering by emailing or phoning Fiona at:
Fiona Cariss | | 0161 275 8459


Green action and well-being in Whitworth Park

31 01 2014

Green action and well-being in Whitworth Park

Although it was fairly wet underfoot, the rain held off for a few hours on Wednesday morning of this week, for a small band of willing Gallery and Museum volunteers to blow away the cobwebs, escape the computers, get a breath of fresh air, notch up some credits for their annual staff ‘Green Pledges’ and assist the Friends of Whitworth Park with a spot of gardening. It was quite a feat of willpower to brave the chilly January weather, but once there, cutting back the dead stalks from last summer’s wonderful herbaceous display in the Park’s central flower bed really got the endorphins moving and was extremely satisfying.

After working on the flower bed, we moved to the western edge of the Park where last year volunteers planted beech, oak and birch trees. Sharp eyes were needed to spot the slender saplings, but once found, we forked over the grass around each one to prevent them from becoming choked, and so that they can each be mulched with bark chippings.





Huge thanks to George, Kate, and Leanne, to John for collecting four black bin bags full of litter, and the FoWP Ken and Alistair for organising the day’s activities, providing the tools and for all their continuing passion for the beautiful park on our doorstep. Our next gardening session is scheduled for Wed 26 Feb, so anyone who lives or works locally who would like to join in and promote their well-being, please contact the FoWP (

This series of photos shows the summer flowers, and before and after shots of our morning’s work.

Art Auction raises money for our new Collections Access facilities

21 09 2013

Collection access areaIt was a bit of an ‘edge of the seat’ moment at midnight on Friday 20 September for anyone bidding in the Friends of the Whitworth’s exciting online Art Auction.  Although the bidding had been open for some weeks, as is the way with these things, it all ‘hotted up’ during the last hours of Friday evening. The auction raised an amazing £5,000 which will be used towards the design and purchase of bespoke furniture and fittings for the Collections Access Area.

This new facility should become a first point of call for visitors entering the new Gallery building from Whitworth Park and will offer a half-way house between an exhibition and our Study Centre.  The Collections Access Area will show rapidly changing displays from the Gallery’s internationally renowned collections of fine art, textiles and wallpapers and provide opportunities for working alongside a range of collaborators from University academics to local community groups.  Objects will be displayed in a range of wall cases, browser drawers and glass topped tables and there will be access to books and computers in a relaxed and informal setting.  Groups will be able to book sessions in the spaces with members of staff and at other times, the space will be open for all our visitors with further interpretation offered by a skilled group of volunteers (if you would like to join this group please contact the Friends of the Whitworth at: or our Volunteer Coordinator at:

In the meantime, the fundraising continues and if you missed out on the wonderful original artworks so kindly donated by artist friends and associates of the Gallery, then there will be another chance to bid for works by Richard Wentworth, Maxine Bristow, Alice Kettle and others in the run up to Christmas – so get saving and watch this space!