Get to know a little more about this month’s Volunteer Spotlight: Kim Ratcliff!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a transplant from Texas who relocated to Northwest Arkansas after graduate school for a Category Management role with Johnson & Johnson in 1999. It has been amazing to watch this region grow and thrive. I now have a 17-year-old daughter who is a senior at Bentonville High School and is planning to attend the University of Arkansas next fall.
I love to travel, though most of that was put on hold in 2020. I also enjoy good food and good company. I’ve still been able to tap into those things thanks to; curbside delivery, grocery pick-up, socially distanced gatherings, or virtual Zoom meetups! Zoom has also enabled me to tap into virtual programming available at Crystal Bridges and the Momentary as well as other places around the country.
Favorite books? Movies? TV shows?
I really enjoy biographies because I believe everyone has a story to tell. I especially like reading about the lives of artists and how their life experiences influence the evolution of their artwork. My eclectic taste in movies ranges from Elf to Valley Girl, The Sound of Music to Somewhere in Time, and even Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. My latest guilty pleasure has been binge-watching The Crown, The Undoing, and The Flight Attendant. I hate to admit that I still cannot resist watching the chaos on The Bachelor/Bachelorette.
Favorite places in Northwest Arkansas?
For day trips or weekend getaways, I love a nice drive to Devil’s Den, Beaver Lake, or Eureka Springs. More locally, there is always something going on at Crystal Bridges or the Momentary.
Favorite artwork(s) or space(s) at the museum?
I have always been drawn to the vibrant colors and shapes in Au Café (Synchromy) by Stanton MacDonald Wright. No matter how many times I have it on a gallery tour, guests can still point out something new I’ve never noticed before. I also enjoy walking the trails because they offer unique experiences in every season.
In what ways have you been involved as a volunteer with the museum thus far?
Over the past 10 years, I have focused primarily on being a Gallery Guide, leading art tours in the galleries, though I also did Architecture and Sculpture tours for a while. I also enjoy leading special events and group tours. Most recently, I have been doing the 3 in 30 virtual tours online, which has been a great way to share with those who can’t make it to the museum right now.
What prompted you to become a volunteer?
I first heard about Crystal Bridges through a progress update on the construction when they first broke ground in 2005. In the fall of 2010, I saw an ad in the newspaper about interviews for the Gallery Guide program and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it! We started training in March of 2011, seeing the artwork projected on a screen in a classroom at the Massey building near the Bentonville Square. To then walk through the galleries later that year and see the actual paintings on the museum walls was breathtaking.
What do you enjoy most about your volunteer experience?
I never get tired of sharing the beautiful art and architecture of Crystal Bridges. I love meeting people of all ages and backgrounds, some local and some from across the globe, who all bring their own unique perspectives. My main goal is for guests to feel welcomed and leave with an unforgettable experience, so they want to come back.
What have you learned from—or how have you been personally affected by—your experience with the museum?
On every tour I lead through the galleries, I learn something or see something new through the eyes of our guests. And beyond my experiences as a volunteer, as a member, I have been so grateful for the variety of special exhibitions, guest speakers, performers, and programs the museum has brought us over the past 10 years.
Do you have a funny or inspirational story you can briefly tell about your volunteer experience? Please share with us!
It is always inspiring to see the look in someone’s eyes when they “get” a piece of art or connect to an artist for the first time. Even in this new virtual environment, the museum is able to facilitate those connections. There is a member who has been on every one of my 3 in 30 virtual art tours (and likely most of the others too!). Due to her compromised immune system, she is not able to get out much right now, so she expressed how much she appreciates the information and interaction she gets from the museum’s online programs.
Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with Crystal Bridges?
While there may be some limitations now due to COVID-19, the museum always appreciates the time and interest of volunteers, so don’t hesitate to reach out and get involved!