COULD you help take care of a masterpiece?

A 400-year-old Rembrandt painting is currently drawing the crowds at Whitehaven’s Beacon Museum, and people are being offered once-in-a-lifetime volunteering opportunities.

The Dutch master’s ‘Saskia van Uylenburgh in Arcadian Costume’ is on display until January 8. The piece is on loan from the National Gallery in London.

The priceless painting must have staff in the gallery with it at all times – so volunteers are being sought. Several people have already stepped up to help, but there are still some spaces.

The volunteering roles could include welcoming visitors, providing information about the artwork, answering questions and gathering feedback from visitors. No experience or physical fitness is necessary and training will be provided.

Volunteer invigilator, Marion Plunkett, said: “I’m enjoying my role – it’s a wonderful setting and I have learnt a great deal about the painting and the painter, which I am able to pass onto the customers.

“What has struck me is the diversity of the people coming to view it – from serious art lovers to customers just popping in out of curiosity.

“It is lovely to chat with these people and share their experience and knowledge. You never know who will be next through the door and what they will ask.”

Copeland’s Portfolio Holder for The Beacon Museum, Councillor Steven Morgan, said: “The volunteers we already have are enjoying the opportunity immensely. To be this close to a masterpiece really is something special, and to help visitors get the most from their visit makes it even more so. If they wish, volunteers will be able to talk about the artistic merits of the painting and the historical information around it.”

The artwork has been loaned to The Beacon Museum as part of the Masterpiece Tour. The scheme offers only three venues outside of London the chance to host one major work from its collection each year.

The Rembrandt piece is one of many he painted or drew of his first wife Saskia.

Anyone interested in volunteering for some three-hour shifts as part of the Rembrandt exhibition should contact the museum on 01946 592302, or email

For more information about the museum, and visiting the exhibition, visit or call 01946 592302.

Click here to see a picture of Marion Plunkett, and fellow volunteers Elaine Thompson (L) and Liz Wilson (R) in the Rembrandt gallery:

Click here to see a picture of ‘Saskia van Uylenburgh in Arcadian Costume’ :