National Volunteer Week

Supporting the Arts

Volunteers are at the heart of the Bermuda National Gallery. As a non-profit (registered charity #288) with a small team of 5 staff, the gallery could not operate without the hard work and commitment of a dedicated group of volunteers.

From the board of trustees who steward the sound governance and fiduciary oversight of the organisation, to art lovers who dedicate their time to greeting and guiding visitors through the space and those who help to install artworks and prep the gallery for exhibitions, volunteers are the very backbone of BNG.

The roles are myriad, as are the ages and experiences of those who volunteer their time. Volunteering not only supports the gallery, it also benefits those who share their time. Students can gain a valuable insight into the running of a museum; those looking to build their resumes can develop new skills; retirees are able to build new networks and forge deeper connections with the community.

As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, we took a moment to catch up with some of our volunteers to find out what volunteering at BNG means to them and what they have learnt from their time at the gallery.

Charlene Scott & François Bertrand

Since retiring a couple of years ago, Charlene Scott and her husband François Bertrand dedicate one alternating day a week as front desk volunteers, where they meet and greet visitors. We caught up with Charlene and François, who are both passionate art collectors, to discuss their roles and why, in their experience, BNG is about more than just art: it has the power to educate people about almost anything.

BNG: How did you start volunteering at BNG and how long have you been at the gallery?

CS: Less than four years ago, my husband and I were invited to a Friday evening cruise around the harbour on the Bermuda Sloop. We met with BNG Chairman Gary Phillips and his wife Tricia.  It was Tricia who sparked my interest in doing some volunteer work. I had been thinking of doing something after retiring from a very busy job, so I took the bait, and the rest is history. Originally, I did every Wednesday afternoon and since Covid, I alternate my time at the Gallery with my husband, François.

FB: I started a few months after Charlene as a floater as I preferred a flexible schedule, then moved to alternating Wednesday afternoons to complement Charlene’s schedule. I am still filling in, from time to time, when there is a need.

BNG: What do you do in your capacity as volunteers?

CS: I’m on the Front Desk. I enjoy meeting people and informing them of what is current in the gallery. Collecting the entry fee from visitors or persuading them to give a donation is also part of the experience. Taking and delivering messages is also an important aspect of being on the Front Desk.

FB:  As a Front Desk volunteer our foremost role is to greet the visitors, collect the applicable fee and give them a quick summary of the various exhibits showing now. We answer their questions about the Gallery, and sometimes any other question they may have about Bermuda. Then there are all the other little tasks like renewing membership, selling the BNG paraphernalia and answering the phone.

BNG: You are both art collectors and collect works by many local artists. Has your experience as collectors affected the way you experience the works and exhibitions in the gallery?

CS: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is said! The gallery showcases different expressions of art and I get to see that first-hand. Being there does not really affect or influence the way I see works and exhibitions. As will be the case, I like some exhibits more than others.  Art is so very personal. Recently, we purchased prints from one of the local artists [Meredith Andrews’ limited-edition prints, accompanying Flotsam and Jetsam: The Cost of Modern Living].

FS:  It is always interesting to see new work from artists we already know, and in some cases have purchased pieces from before. It is also always interesting to discover work from artists we did not know.

BNG: Why is it important to support BNG?

CS: Art is a form of expression. Our society needs to appreciate not only academic achievements; it should also value the artistic endeavours of persons, whichever form they take.

FS: The quick and easy answer is that it provides a platform for Bermuda artists to exhibit their work. However, art is a lot more important to society. To answer the above question, one must first ask: Why is art important to Bermuda? If I were to summarize my thoughts into one phrase or concept, I would say that the BNG has the power to educate people about almost anything.

BNG: What has been the most enjoyable part of your experience?

CS: Observing and having brief conversations with the people who walk through the door…they come from all walks of life, different countries and have varied experiences!

FS:  Stuffing envelopes…just kidding! Viewing and learning about new exhibits and interacting with foreign tourists are the most interesting part of the experience of a front desk volunteer.

Sophia Tessitore

Sophia Tessitore has been volunteering at the Bermuda National Gallery for the past year. The recent Bermuda College graduate comes in once a fortnight to assist with a variety of different jobs, from prepping the gallery for new exhibitions and installing artworks to admin tasks. She credits her experience at the gallery with helping to open her eyes to a new career path and later this year plans to study online for a Bachelor’s of History from Royal Holloway, University of London, with the aim of pursuing a career in the museum sector.

BNG: How did you start volunteering at the Bermuda National Gallery and how long have you been there?

ST: I began volunteering in March of 2021, after visiting the BNG for a gallery tour of the 2020 Bermuda Biennial with Governor Rena Lalgie and my art history professor at Bermuda College, Dr. Edwin Smith (who was participating in the exhibition). I initially got involved because I love art and thought it would be an interesting way to pass time; through volunteering, I discovered a new career path and set of skills.

BNG What do you do in your capacity as a volunteer? 

ST: My first-time volunteering, I assisted with the installation of Gherdai Hassel’s first solo exhibition I Am Because You Are. This was my first experience installing artwork, and was great as I got to learn more about the process of creating an art exhibition. Currently, I do reception and front desk duties, help with installation and occasionally assist with administrative tasks, such as organizing BNG’s email lists, transcribing interviews and proofreading press releases.

BNG: How can getting involved at BNG support the goals of young Bermudians interested in a career in the arts?

ST: I think volunteering is a great opportunity for those interested in a career in the arts. I’ve learned so much about the art scene in Bermuda along with the day-to-day work that often goes into operating an art gallery or museum, it’s incredibly fascinating and it’s an experience that will stick with me!

BNG: What has been the most enjoyable part of your experience? 

ST: My favourite aspect would probably be getting to interact with those who visit, display their art or work in the gallery. Discussing art with them is so interesting and has been a great learning experience. Volunteering at the Bermuda National Gallery is something that I would definitely recommend!

Stephanie Hardy

Stephanie Hardy recently began volunteering at the Bermuda National Gallery once a week after school as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Programme. The middle school student helps the team with a variety of tasks, from exhibition research to setting up the space for evening art classes. In order to attain the Bronze Award in the Duke of Edinburgh Programme, Stephanie needs to complete 12 weeks of community service, which her time at the BNG is helping her to achieve.

BNG: How did you start volunteering at BNG and how long have you been at the gallery?

SH: I started volunteering at the Bermuda National Gallery as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Programme. I started here in December of 2021, and I come and help out for about an hour each week.

BNG: What do you do as a volunteer?   

SH: I usually help with current or ongoing projects in the gallery, from packing artwork to running errands. I also learn from those around me about what it takes to run a gallery. I have learned how BNG plans exhibitions and about hanging artworks in the gallery. I was also able to help with the art classes in the late afternoon, which was a great learning opportunity about the preparation involved.

BNG: Why is it important for young people to volunteer in their communities?

SH: I feel as though it’s important for young people to volunteer to help the community, especially if you’re volunteering in an area where you would be interested in pursuing a career path in in the future. It can create vital connections and friends within subsets of the wider community. It’s also improving the lives of those you help, and thus the community.

BNG: Would you recommend that other students complete their volunteer hours at BNG?

SH: Definitely. The team at the Bermuda National Gallery is very welcoming and willing to work with total beginners. It has a nice atmosphere, and it offers great in-roads to the art community in Bermuda. It’s also an interesting volunteer experience for those who are interested in how a gallery works.

BNG: What has been the most enjoyable part of your experience? 

SH: Getting to go through older Bermuda Biennial artworks is one of my favourite things that I have done at BNG. It’s a great reflection of how art has changed, even in recent years. It acts as a time capsule for the art community in Bermuda, which is very interesting to look back on. Getting to know artists in the community, or those who have been in the community in the past, when flipping through the catalogues is intriguing.

If you possess a love for the arts and would like to get involved, please contact Volunteer and Operations Officer Lara Hetzel at