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Volunteer Spotlight: Scott Vonderheide

Scott Vonderheide is a new volunteer with The Rockwell Museum. He attended the Volunteer Open House in October 2019 and has been enthusiastically involved ever since. Scott worked with elementary aged students during his career as a school librarian – he brings with him a love of learning and sharing knowledge.

Scott has a talent for communicating with students and is enthusiastic and caring. He has jumped right in to help where needed. We are fortunate to have Scott as one of our volunteers at The Rockwell Museum!

Have you volunteered before (or are you presently)?  If so, where?

Recently I retired from a long career as an elementary school librarian. I have continued to be involved with the students through volunteering as a reading partner with second-graders. I really like working with children and young people.

Why do volunteers matter in our community?

Just for starters, every month The Rockwell hosts hundreds of students in worthwhile educational tours. While professional staff creates the lessons and activities, it is the volunteers who lead the groups. It would be literally impossible for The Rockwell to serve the number of students by relying solely on its staff. It is no exaggeration to say that the volunteers allow the Museum to increase its efforts significantly. 

Why do you choose to give your time to The Rockwell Museum? 

When I first moved to the Southern Tier some thirty years ago, I visited The Rockwell Museum and was greatly impressed by its western art collection. Since then, I have returned periodically to view special exhibitions and be inspired by the growth of the Museum’s mission. It is said the building has 144 windows that look out on the cityscape of Corning. Upon deeper observation the museum has many more windows than that: each painting. Each work of art is also a window – a window to view and to encounter the American experience. I want to be a part of that exploration.

Have you had a special experience at the Museum that you would like to share?

I remember introducing an activity to a group of sixth-graders, which required them to choose a favorite work of art and write about it. Students went in all different directions, each connecting with a different artwork of their choice. Later, when they shared with the group, I was impressed to see how personal and meaningful the experience was for them. I believe that artists are “creative” people; but so are the viewers. Together they create meaning for artwork. That day, it happened right before my eyes.

What is your favorite artwork at The Rockwell Museum?  Why is this your favorite? 

Mount Whitney by Albert Bierstadt. It is a romanticized compilation of scenery found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. When I behold the painting, it brings back memories of my times hiking and backpacking among their awesome beauty. I guess some of those windows on the American experience may also serve as mirrors.

Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), Mount Whitney, circa 1877, oil on canvas. Rockwell Foundation Purchase. 78.14 F.

What do you look forward to each time you volunteer at The Rockwell?

I am always greeted by a warm welcome from our volunteer coordinator, Ann Recotta. She makes us feel valued. I also appreciate my fellow volunteers, who are friendly and eager to share from their years of experience.

What have you learned by volunteering? 

The Rockwell Museum’s educational outreach is staffed by people who really know their stuff. Not only are they eager to share their expertise, they are also patient enough to teach me. They bring in guest speakers to further enrich our learning.

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