The Gallery Guides were established at Newcastle Art Gallery in March 1972 by then Director David Thomas. At the time they provided guided tours to visitors of the 'Newcastle City Art Gallery', as it was then known, which was located on the second floor of the War Memorial Cultural Centre, adjacent to the gallery's current home. To quote an early edition of the Newcastle Art Gallery Society magazine, ARTEMIS (Jan–Feb 1972) the aim of guiding was to “. . . awaken curiosity, widen horizons and above all stimulate an appetite for a return visit”. The sentiment still stands true more than forty years on.
Today, the Gallery Guides continue to provide high quality services to the Gallery and its visitors, presenting over 300 guided tours annually. Guided tours are free of charge. Public tours are held every Saturday and Sunday at 11am, and private tours can be booked using our online booking form. The Guides are a dedicated body of volunteers who present different types of tours for a wide range of audiences, including education groups and visitors with special needs.
As a body, the Newcastle Art Gallery Guides are founding members of a national body formed in 1976, the Association of Australian Gallery Guiding Organisations (AAGGO). They are also a founding member of the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation, which was established in 1978.
Whilst fundraising is not part of their charter, the Guides have made several donations to the Gallery's collection, including works of art by Douglas Kwarlple Abbott, Geoff Harvey, Koji Kamada and Baden Pailthorpe and contributed towards other acquisitions such as the Stuart & Sons Studio grand piano and Alex Seton's Paper Armada 2015.
Recruitment and training
A recruitment drive for new Guides is initiated at the Gallery’s discretion when demand for services outstrips the number of Guides available, on average every second year. Guides undergo 4-6 months of training, which provides them with knowledge of the Gallery's collection, approaches to guiding different audiences (such as young children or people with Dementia) and the Australian school syllabus. Throughout their training, Guides are required to deliver talks and presentations in front of works of art to familiarise them with the intricacies of their role. Before they are able to take up independent guiding, they are assessed by a panel of Gallery staff and existing Guides. In order to be considered for the Guides, we will require a current Working with Children Check, which is free for volunteer positions.
Newcastle Art Gallery is not currently recruiting for Gallery Guides, however you can submit your details using our volunteer enquiry form and we will notify you when the next recruitment is underway. It is anticipated that a new round of recruitment will not occur until 2019.