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Our guest blogger today is Jessica Hancock, volunteer at the IMA.

I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My favorite time to volunteer at the Indianapolis Museum of Art is on a Friday night when museum hours are extended to 9pm.  You know that feeling of peace that you have right before a soft spring rain starts to fall?  Or the sensation you feel the moment that you first see the ocean when you arrive on a beach vacation?  Yeah.  That’s my cheesy analogy for the feeling I get when I sit in a quiet, serene gallery on a Friday night.  As a volunteer of the IMA, I have the luxury of feeling like the permanent galleries of the museum are my private sanctuary.  My personal church.  I suppose I should pause for a moment and explain who I am and why I’m lucky to be blogging here…

My name is Jessica Hancock and I’ve been a volunteer for the IMA since the fall of 2008.  At that time, I was going through a particularly challenging time in my life.  It was a time when I felt like, even though I had a million friends and a million different options for a Friday night, all I wanted to do was be still.  One day I reverted back to my roots, so to speak, and I thought about the days when I used to strut around the old IMA galleries alongside my Busha (polish for Grandma).  Busha was a museum docent, post retirement, for over 20 years. She used to bring my cousins and me around the museum, educating us through every twist and turn we’d take through the galleries.  I remembered how proud I was of her, how I wanted to have that substantial knowledge about art.  So I walked right into the museum on a Sunday afternoon in November and started volunteering.

Hands down, it was the best decision I ever made!  Four years later, I volunteer once a month on the first Sunday of every month at the guest services kiosk.  The months that I do not volunteer, I feel anxious.  Art does something different for everyone.  One of my favorite questions that I get when I’m volunteering is usually from an eager parent asking, “Where do I start?  Which gallery would my kids enjoy the most?”  It’s an exhilarating and proud moment when I get to share my expertise and personal favorites in the museum!

To volunteer means to make yourself useful to others.  In whatever way you choose to do so, volunteering can be humbling and a reminder you of who you really are.  For me personally, there is an attracting element to knowing art and being able to share it with others.  Being present and giving my time to the IMA once a month was my way of feeling close to something I love.  I have the endless opportunity to educate myself and museum guests every time I’m there.   So if you find me still and in a “moment” at the museum on a Friday night, just know that I’m just enjoying my personal sanctuary.

Filed under: IMA Staff, Museum Community

3 Responses to “Sanctuary”

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    Michael Fleischman Says:

    Lovely portrayal of the symbiotic relationship between you and the museum. You are a great volunteer Jessica!

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    Wendy Wilkerson Says:

    Jessica: Your blog made me think of so many very special docents I have known over the years and how their enthusastic love of art engages museum patrons. I hope to meet you and hear more about your Busha!

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