Since 1914 when the Montclair Art Museum opened, volunteers have been central to its growth and vitality. They support virtually all of the Museum’s activities, which include engaging communities with MAM’s exhibitions and educational programs including the Art Truck, assisting in children’s and family programs, becoming a docent, helping care for the grounds, fundraising, supporting special events, and much more.
We are so grateful for our volunteers who truly care about the Museum and its visitors. We are especially grateful to our long term volunteers. Some of our volunteers have helped the Museum run smoothly for decades and in this issue of Inside MAM, we would like to honor one volunteer in particular, Susan Marx. Susan has been with the Museum for 9 years and currently works in the Marketing & Communications Department at least three days a week. She is a wonderful and fun addition to the department. Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Susan for an interview. Here’s what she had to say:
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH THE MONTCLAIR ART MUSEUM?
S. I stopped working on a Friday afternoon and showed up at MAM on Monday morning asking if I could volunteer. I was told to talk to Rita Bausch, MAM’s Volunteer and Intern Program Manager, who gave me an application to fill out. I told her that I didn’t know how to fill out an application with volunteer experience because I had been working as a secretary my entire working life. Patterson Sims, who was the museum director when I started volunteering in February 2008, was walking by and heard me say that. He asked: “Do you know how to type?” and I answered: “Sure.” He told me to come upstairs and I started typing articles for the Philip Pearlstein exhibition catalog which Patterson was working on.
HOW MANY VOLUNTEER PROJECTS HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED IN?
S. Too many to count. I worked on getting values for the books in the LeBrun Library which were donated to the Montclair State University Library. Currently, I add email addresses to our e-newsletter system so people, both members and nonmembers, can receive communications from the Museum. I post MAM exhibitions, events, and art workshops on a dozen online calendars to publicize what is happening at MAM. I make excel spreadsheets of articles that appear in the press about the Museum for our records, plus work on any other project that Michael and Catherine in the Marketing & Communications Department give me.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT VOLUNTEERING AT MAM?
S. I like being with people who are interested in art; I like being in an art environment. I am a painter and no one objects if I take a very long lunch break to paint en plein air in the nearby Presby Iris Garden or the Van Vleck Gardens. But I cannot paint 24/7 so I like to spend some of my extra time giving back and helping the Museum with my secretarial skills.
WHAT DID YOU DO PRIOR TO VOLUNTEERING AT MAM?
S. I have always been a painter. One of the best pieces of advice I got from my art professors at Boston University was to learn how to type, so that I can pay the rent, and thus paint what I want to paint on canvas without “needing” to sell. So, I spent my whole working career as an administrative assistant and executive secretary. It was a job that I could turn off at 5 p.m. to leave my head clear for creativity.
HOW HAS YOUR TIME HERE AFFECTED YOU?
S. I’ve learned about many things involved in making a museum work. I’ve learned valuable technology skills to keep up with the world and I’ve learned about social media and how to put Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to my advantage to promote my art career.
WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT YOUR TIME VOLUNTEERING AT MAM?
S. How much fun the days would be. I didn’t realize that I would have the added bonus of establishing friendships with MAM Staff. When I leave each day people say thank you and mean it.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE WHO WAS THINKING ABOUT VOLUNTEERING AT MAM?
S. I would tell them that they are filling an important need. I would tell them that MAM needs some “unpaid staff” to be able to do all that it does, and that their time and work is needed and valued.
HOW HAS MAM EVOLVED SINCE YOUR TIME HERE?
S. I have seen the Museum grow and I have seen it introduce many new successful programs such as Free First Thursday Nights.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE OF MAM?
S. My hopes are for many more wonderful exhibitions and new acquisitions to be added to its collection.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
S. I am an abstract impressionist painter, a painter who loves color. I take myself and my painting very seriously. I exhibit at two New York galleries: Agora Gallery, in Chelsea, and Ashok Jain Gallery on the Lower East Side. I invite you to visit my website: www.susanmarxartist.com.
Interested in becoming a MAM volunteer? Contact Rita Bausch, Volunteer and Intern Program Manager, by emailing email@example.com or calling 973-259-5124.