National Gallery of Victoria Volunteer Guide Receives Queen’s Birthday Honor

As a volunteer guide for over 50 years at the National Gallery of Victoria, Judy Davey has come across a host of interesting characters.

On one tour, she recalls the introduction of the “Angry Penguins” – a collective of artists during the modernist movement in Australia in the 1940s.

Judy Davey was one of the NGV’s first volunteer guides in 1969.Credit:Simon Schluter

The group of tourists responded with genuine enthusiasm that they had seen the same angry penguins on Phillip Island last night.

But Davey doesn’t like to laugh at the ‘well-intentioned’ questions from NGV visitors. The guides are there to make the art accessible, she said.

“People come to the gallery a little scared, that’s why we started [the tours] first of all – to humanize it a bit.”

Humanizing art goes beyond looking beyond people’s perhaps silly questions.

The NGV volunteer guides are extensively trained to provide tours for all types of visitors.

There are tours in Mandarin, tours for people with Alzheimer’s and tours for the visually impaired.

Since the 1980s, the NGV began to tour the gallery. Davey brings the gallery through a projector – and her knowledge – to rural areas, disabled and nursing homes.

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