Sophie Jennings

In November 2017, we welcomed back Sophie Jennings from GML Heritage, volunteering at Sydney’s premier open-building event for her second year.

What did you most enjoy about volunteering for Sydney Open 2017?

It’s great to be involved, as you get to go behind the scenes, and it’s highly rewarding as locals connect with their city through Sydney Open and the significant buildings. You can see the visitors’ faces light up as you take them on the insider journey.

I’m always interested in the diversity of both the people who choose to volunteer for the event, and the visitors who turn up on the day. Each volunteer has a different reason for participating in the event – one volunteer I met this year was an overseas student studying in Sydney who had joined as a way of getting to know the city and its places.

Which building were you in last year?

I volunteered at the Australian Museum, which is a childhood favourite of mine. I have vivid memories of visiting the minerals room and the skeleton gallery and so I was keen to get others involved in this special place. I was also very curious to see ‘behind the scenes’ at the museum.

Sydney Open 2017 attracted over 400 volunteers. What would you tell someone who’s thinking of volunteering for Sydney Open this year?

Go for it! It’s great fun, a fantastic way to learn more about a particular building, and an opportunity to see a different side to the city we live in. Volunteering is rewarding (to repeat the cliché) and participating in Sydney Open is a great way to immerse yourself in the experience of a particular property that excites you.

Do you have any top tips for visitors to Sydney Open 2018?

Definitely wear comfy shoes and check the weather before you leave the house! Plan ahead: make a list of your top places, and a second list of ‘back-ups’ that are nearby so if you find a queue is too long on the day you have somewhere else to visit. Check out where you can get lunch (and coffee!) as many places in the CBD area close over weekends. Luckily the Sydney Open app makes your planning easier, with built in map, descriptions of places and live information about visitor numbers.

GML Heritage partnered with SLM for Sydney Open in 2016 and 2017. What makes the partnership so successful?

Sydney Open is unique because it celebrates our heritage and the best of contemporary design. At GML we hold the same values, and we’re proud to be associated with an event that’s getting bigger and better every year.


This article originally appeared in Unlocked: The Sydney Living Museums Gazette, our Members’ magazine.

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Woman in yellow sweater looking at document in front of shelving.

Sophie Jennings. Photo © GML Heritage