Voluntary Work With Local Museums
If you have an interest in history, the arts or culture then why not get involved with a local museum? Museums are often cash-strapped and can depend on the goodwill of volunteers to operate.
Keep an eye open in the local newspaper for appeals for volunteers or get in touch directly to ask if the Museum is looking for assistance. There are usually different ways of getting involved.
Friends organisationsMany Museums have a Friends organisation. This usually means that you pay a nominal sum each year and then enjoy the various benefits of becoming a Friend. Friends often organise and hold charitable events to raise funds for the Museum. They may also hold exclusive events for Friends only including museum tours and talks by curators or visiting speakers.
There is quite a lot of organisation involved in a Friends organisation and it will usually be run by a committee. Find out about vacancies on the committee – your contribution may well be welcome. For example you could help with planning and organising events, writing and putting together a Friends newsletter or helping to recruit and involve new Friends. All of this helps to support the work of the museum and to promote it within the local community.
Help with Front of HouseThere are plenty of other roles available within local museums. Some museums are so small that may have only one or two staff and rely on community helpers for the day to day running of the museum. For example you may be invited to act as front of house and welcome new visitors to the museum. You will be the first point of contact and could be asked a whole range of questions. You will need to be calm, confident and prepared to learn about the collections so that you can answer questions from the public.
A similar role is acting as a voluntary warder or assistant. Your role is to ensure the security of the collections by either sitting in one room or patrolling through the museum. You will need to enjoy interacting with the public and once again be keen to learn about the collections as you can expect to be asked questions about the displays by visitors.
Help behind the scenes
Behind the scenes museums may welcome a voluntary fundraiser who is keen to get involved in targeting sources of potential money for the museum. This is a key area and increasingly central to the work of local museums. Other roles which may also be available include marketing and communications and public relations. If you have existing skills or experience in these areas then museums will be especially pleased to hear from you. Taking on such a role can also provide you with a valuable opportunity to gain new expertise.
Working with the collectionAt the heart of any museum is the collection and you may want to help out with this directly. This work is perhaps the most sought-after in museums. You may be able to help out with the accessioning of new material that has come into the collection, this may entail handling original artefacts and objects under the supervision of museum curators. You may also help out with filing and paperwork relating to the objects.
You may also be able to support the work of the conservators who look after and maintain objects within the collections.
Another fascinating opportunity is to help out curators with the historical research needed to create an exhibition. You could even help to write the captions that accompany the displays.