British Motor Museum Volunteers

British Motor Museum Volunteers

Friday, 12 August 2016

Volunteers at the Collections Centre – the story so far

The new Collections Centre, along with the refurbished Museum, has been open for around six months, attracting many more visitors than was originally thought. The volunteers have played an integral part in making this possible - informing, assisting and guiding visitors around the 250-plus vehicles that are now housed in this modern new building.

To help improve our guiding skills and interaction with the public, all the volunteers were offered the chance to attend a half-day training course. Many took up this opportunity and course leader Peter Leake did not disappoint with a very well-structured and often amusing talk. Peter has spent many years working in the motor industry and his tales and advice from many years attending motor shows was particularly enlightening.

          One of several training courses made available    A tour introduction by a volunteer

For those who have not yet visited the Collections Centre, it is perhaps worth mentioning a few things about this new venture. Firstly, admission is included in the price of your general admission ticket to the British Motor Museum. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it is not a museum as such. Like most museums, only around a third of its exhibits are ever on show at any one time in the main museum, with the remaining two thirds away from public view in storage somewhere. The British Motor Museum, prior to the addition of the Collections Centre, used to be no different, with around 200 vehicles in storage, on or off site. The Collections Centre now gives the public the opportunity to view all these previously hidden vehicles in what is surely one of the most exclusive car parks in the country.

The ground floor at the Collections Centre is also the new home for the Jaguar Heritage Collection, which numbers around 70 vehicles on display at any one time. Originally housed at the old Browns Lane, Coventry factory, this working collection contains some very interesting and valuable vehicles. Only the other week, two of the collection, an original E-Type and the XJ13, appeared on TV’s Top Gear programme.

 The ground floor Jaguar Heritage Collection

Up until recently on week days, viewing at the Collections Centre had been by way of four volunteer led, guided tours spread throughout the day. However, in view of the initial viewing demand and the busy summer and school holiday period, viewing is now on a free roaming basis between 10.30 am and 5 pm. Volunteer guides will however still be on hand to supervise visitors and answer any queries. This will be trialled until October as part of the Museum’s constant monitoring of customer feedback and requests. Meanwhile, it is advised to always consult the Museum’s website before a planned visit.