This archived article was written by: Carlie Miller
The Sixth Annual Haunted Museum hosted by USU-CEU’s Prehistoric Museum was cancelled for lack of volunteers, said Ken Carpenter, Ph.D., museum’s director of paleontology. Fifteen volunteers “are ideal” but the Haunted Museum could be operated on ten, explained Carpenter, but there were not enough.
Some of the museum volunteers are used as ghosts but the more vital job was to “insure the safety of both visitors and specimens.” Carpenter said that “it makes the museum look bad if people get hurt” and the artifacts in the museum are largely irreplaceable. Without the efficient number of volunteers, the Haunted Museum cannot function on a safe basis.
When asked if the museum will host the Halloween event next year, Carpenter did not seem positive. “We used to be the only family-oriented [Halloween] event in town. That is no longer the case.” The museum staff is not paid for working the Haunted Museum and the museum itself “is going through a lot of changes,” Carpenter added, “Is it appropriate [to host another Halloween event?] Now we have the Event Center” and the college has its own Halloween events.
Carpenter said that once the museum set the standard for a family-oriented Halloween party, businesses and individuals began to follow suit. “[The Haunted Museum] may no longer be necessary. Maybe it is time for us to back off.”
The important issue here is not that the Haunted Museum was cancelled, but that the museum is in dire need of volunteers. “Volunteers are an important part of the museum,” Carpenter explained, “we can get more accomplished than we would otherwise.” The museum is “a bridge between the college and the community.” It provides a service to the community and extends the education of the students.
“Volunteers are really important” Carpenter stressed again. They can by used as assistants for the professionals and can help the museum speak its message to the public. The museum needs more volunteers to help assist and to maintain the museum for the community as a whole. “Several people have expressed interest in volunteering for the museum but, it was more talk than action.” He thinks that volunteers “were seen as a nuisance instead of a necessity,” but the museum is working to “welcome them back.”
What are the qualifications needed to be a museum volunteer? “We need people in all sorts of capacities,” he said. From organizational skills or a gift of speech to knacks for carpentry or a way with computers, the museum could use them all. You don’t have to be interested in what goes on behind the scenes of a museum, (seriously though, wouldn’t you want to know the mysteries and the secret items the museum keeps in the back room?) but it gives “life experience. Being able to do something different.” Volunteers are given hands-on experience that enrich their lives and increase research potential that will be a life benefit. Volunteers participate in educational activities that not only serve the volunteer and the museum but the community as well.
One of the museum’s many exciting programs in need of volunteers allows them to assist paleontologists in the field, “Not everyone can say they found a dinosaur,” Carpenter explained, “we give them that opportunity.”