Volunteer Spotlight: Branwyn Turnage

Volunteers play a key role in making the History Center one of the finest cultural organizations in the U.S. By donating time and talents, volunteers assist with many facets of the organization. Over the next few months, the History Center is highlighting a few of the diverse volunteers that help our museums succeed.

Branwyn TurnageWe spent some time talking to Branwyn Turnage, a volunteer at the Fort Pitt Museum and Heinz History Center since September 2017. Read the Q&A below to learn about her experiences.

Fort Pitt Museum: Where are you from originally?

Branwyn Turnage: I am originally from the small town of Weott, Calif. Weott is located in southern Humboldt County within the National Redwood Forest, about an hour south of Eureka. 

FPM: How did you become interested in the History Center and Fort Pitt Museum?

BT: I wanted to become more aware of the historic and cultural events which shaped the city I now call home. I have traveled and lived in many different areas, and I always make an effort to make myself aware of my surroundings in order to both understand and appreciate the unique cultural variances of each new place. The History Center and Fort Pitt Museum are the perfect places to learn about contemporary and historical influences on both the diverse attitudes and landscapes of Pittsburgh.

FPM: What was your inspiration to volunteer here?

BT: I have always had a strong desire to be a part of a community which understands the value of preservation of the past and the education of future generations.

Branwyn (foreground) helps guests at the Science Center’s 21+ Night Block Party. Branwyn represented the Fort Pitt Museum and helped guests make wax seals.
Branwyn (foreground) helps guests at the Science Center’s 21+ Night Block Party. Branwyn represented the Fort Pitt Museum and helped guests make wax seals.

FPM: What was your first experience volunteering here?

BT: My first experience was at a Scout event at the Fort Pitt Museum. I had a wonderful time doing wampum belt crafts and explaining to the Scouts the native practices of trade and communication through these belts.

FPM: What is your favorite aspect of the History Center and Fort Pitt Museum?

BT: Other than the unique history and events that illuminate my imagination every time I volunteer, I really love interacting with the other volunteers. It is always wonderful to meet new people with similar interests. Not being a native of the area, I love to hear stories from those who have been in this area for substantial periods of time and have seen the city change and evolve.

FPM: Do any of your other interests or hobbies tie in with what you do as a volunteer?

I’m a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Anthropology and concentrating in the fields of archaeology and GIS. Volunteering has educated me on the history of Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas in Western Pennsylvania. I also volunteer my time with the Carnegie Museum’s Archaeology department at the Edward O’Neil Research Center.

FPM: What have you learned as a volunteer?

BT: Before my time as a volunteer, I did not realize the influence which Pittsburgh had on both the development of our nation and the modernization of our current culture. The innovations and advancements which have been developed and produced in the area are extensive and impressive.

Branwyn’s (not pictured) first volunteer job at the Fort Pitt Museum was volunteering at the museum’s very first Cub Scout Day in 2017, which hosted over 300 Scouts and their families. Branwyn assisted the Scouts in making wampum belts.
Branwyn’s (not pictured) first volunteer job at the Fort Pitt Museum was volunteering at the museum’s very first Cub Scout Day in 2017, which hosted over 300 Scouts and their families. Branwyn assisted the Scouts in making wampum belts.
anwyn (not pictured) set up the dinner for guests from the Delaware Tribe of Indians that participated in the Museum’s 240th Commemoration for the Treaty of Fort Pitt.
anwyn (not pictured) set up the dinner for guests from the Delaware Tribe of Indians that participated in the Museum’s 240th Commemoration for the Treaty of Fort Pitt.

Are you interested in learning how you can volunteer with the History Center, Fort Pitt Museum, or Meadowcroft? Learn more about the opportunities we have to serve on our Volunteer page or contact Ellen DeNinno at 412-454-6412 or ehdeninno@heinzhistorycenter.org.

Kathleen Lugarich is the education manager at the Fort Pitt Museum.

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