At the AGO, we work with many wonderful, art-loving volunteers. For long-time volunteers Susan and Michael Younder, an appreciation for art – and volunteering – runs in the family.
Susan and her son Michael have almost 20 years of volunteer service for the AGO between them, giving art tours and pop-up talks. Where did their love for art and volunteering begin? We chatted with this mother and son duo to find out more.
AGO: Susan, you’ve been a Gallery Guide for over 15 years, and Michael you’ve just celebrated your four-year anniversary. What inspired each of you to volunteer at the AGO?
Susan: My working career was in nursing but I always loved reading about artists. This led me to take courses towards an Art History degree. Exploring art is a wonderful pastime so engaging with others and hoping they’ll experience the same pleasures is a worthy goal.
Michael: This is an easy one: our distinguished guide (my mom) told me I’d be great, so I gave it a try!
AGO: What advice would you give to someone thinking about volunteering at the AGO?
Susan: If you’re comfortable chatting with strangers about a subject you’re passionate about – like art, you’ll enjoy volunteering. Making a guest’s visit more meaningful is rewarding.
Michael: Don’t worry if you’re not an art expert. There’s so much you learn about art as a volunteer.
AGO: Do you have a favourite exhibition or piece in the AGO Collection?
Susan: My favourite piece is Giovanni del Biondo’s St. Benedict Restores Life to a Young Monk. I visited del Biondo’s gravesite in Florence, Italy and told him that 600 years later, I still talk about this artwork.
Michael: My favourite exhibition is Introducing Suzy Lake. I did an On the Dot pop-up art talk about her work Are You Talking to Me? To complement my talk, I played a video clip from the movie Taxi Driver of Robert De Niro’s character, Travis Bickle, saying his famous line “Are you talkin’ to me?”
Is there a new generation from the Younder family that will carry on the family volunteering tradition?
Michael: My daughter joined me for an evening on Take Your Child to Work Day two years ago. We gave her a backstage tour, so you never know!
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