In a bleak economy, most museums rely on a corps of dedicated volunteers to keep the doors open. Without their help, overworked staff members would not be able to do all the things museums do every day.
There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available at any museum. There are “front line” jobs and “behind-the-scenes” jobs to suit every personality. Each position requires a different kind of time commitment – some are weekly, monthly, or more sporadic.
At my museum, we have collections volunteers that help catalog and photograph the permanent collection. We have volunteers in the library who work on research projects and help with new donations.
We have several volunteer docents who lead school tours and present “History To Go” programs in the classroom. We also have volunteers in the Museum Shoppe and in the Front Office.
Most museums can’t pull off a special event without volunteer help. So if you’re looking for something with a limited time commitment, you might want to sign on to help out at an annual event.
If you are currently looking for a museum job, or if you are thinking about pursuing a museum career, the best thing you can do is volunteer your time. Networking is key when you are trying to get your foot in the door! There are so many different kinds of projects to get involved in.
Becoming a museum volunteer will also create a new group of friends with interests similar to your own. Your life will be enriched not only from the important work you are doing, but through the people you will meet along the way.
Training is always provided, so you don't have come to the museum with previous knowledge of the museum field.
Give your local museum a call and see what kind of opportunities are available. At a medium to large sized museum, there will probably be a Volunteer Coordinator. Smaller museums usually rely more heavily on volunteers, but they might not have a staff member dedicated to recruiting them. Pick up the phone and find out how you can help.
Preserving history is an important job. If you have some time, VOLUNTEER!!