In this series, Manager of Visitor and Family Engagement Emily Bray profiles volunteers within the museum. Phillips volunteers are an integral part of the museum and help in many ways: greeting and guiding guests through the museum, helping with Sunday Concerts, assisting patrons in the library, helping out with Phillips after 5 and special events, and so much more. Our volunteers offer a wealth of expertise and experience to the museum, and we are delighted to highlight several them.
Mary Pat Norton, Art Information Volunteer and Public Program Volunteer
What year did you start volunteering for The Phillips Collection?I’ve been volunteering since February 2018.
What do you see as the most valuable aspect of your volunteering?
As a volunteer, I’ve had the opportunity to assist a variety of departments and learn about all of the artists within the exhibits. Before working here, I never seriously studied works by Paul Klee or the aboriginal Australian women artists, so I’ve enjoyed broadening my perspective. In doing so, I’ve been able to discuss these works with our visitors, gaining an understanding of their viewpoints as well. Overall, the best part about my role is that I have the privilege of helping visitors cultivate meaningful learning experiences, and they help me to do the same.
What do you do when you are not volunteering at the Phillips?
I am an art history MA student at George Washington University and an editorial assistant to a design historian. When I am not studying, I can be found eating my way through D.C. and wandering through the city’s art museums.
What is your favorite room or painting here?
I love the Laib Wax Room, and I really appreciate that there is a slab of wax on the outside of this space for visitors to touch. The eucalyptus poles in the Marking the Infinite exhibit are also fascinating.
If you had to choose one word to describe The Phillips Collection, what would it be?
Share a fun fact about you!
I excel at pogo sticking, and I grew up in South Florida.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I’ve really grown to love the Phillips and I look forward to learning more about this fabulous collection. Volunteering here has been a fun experience, and I appreciate everyone who has helped me learn more about the museum industry.