- Associated Press - Saturday, April 26, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - When it comes to local history, there may be no better bet than the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, which has permanent exhibits on the area’s history from the mining days and beyond. That’s a fact many locals know.

What many may not know is volunteers make the museum experience great.

“Moving into summer, we are a small staff of just four,” volunteer coordinator Christina Bruce said. “There’s no way the four of us could possibly keep the museum open all those hours - volunteers are what make the museum run.”

Bruce said they need at least four more volunteers in visitor services for the summer season if things are to run smoothly.

The museum’s summer hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, though it will be closed during the month of May for replacement of its outdated HVAC system. Museum volunteers contribute more than 2,000 hours a year, Bruce said, “more than the equivalent of another staff member.”

There is always a staff member at the museum to offer assistance if a volunteer doesn’t feel comfortable with a question, and training is provided. A volunteer training will be announced for late May, and volunteers who join after the annual training can learn the ropes one-on-one with Bruce.

Curator Marjie Hamburger said her goal with volunteer recruitment is “connecting the community to the museum and Juneau history.”

“We’re often in the shadow of the state museum,” Hamburger said. “But we’re the city museum and we represent the people here, telling their stories.”

Those interested in local stories, history and art might consider volunteering, Bruce and Hamburger suggest.

Many volunteers are longtime Juneau residents, Hamburger said, including Marie Darlin, a born-and-raised Alaskan. Others, Hamburger said, may have been in Juneau for less time, but are excited to be in the capital.

While the roster of volunteers tends to include many retirees, Hamburger said the museum would like to reach out to other demographics, including teenagers and young adults.

“Volunteering here during the summer is a good way to get involved with that (history and art), and you can put it on a résumé,” Hamburger said.

Hamburger suggested that volunteering is a great way to interact with elders and longtime residents.

Volunteer Patty Winegar told museum staff: “I enjoy meeting and getting to know other volunteers, many of whom have lived here all their life and have interesting stories to tell.”

Some high school government students volunteer to meet class requirements, since the city museum counts as a government agency.

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