Getting started

About our volunteering opportunities

Welcoming visitors to temporary exhibitions, digitising historic documents, helping to run the year-round programme of family friendly events, or lending a green-fingered hand at the Garden... these are just a few of the opportunities our volunteers contribute to.

We hope that our range of opportunities includes something for everyone, whether helping at one site, or across several; helping in a single role, or in lots of different ways; helping for a few hours each week, or for a few hours in a year... What you hear about - and hopefully get involved in - is up to you.

When you join our mailing list, you will be asked to select from a list of ‘General Interests’, as detailed below. Expand each section to read more about the different types of roles we offer. Then continue scrolling to find out how to get started.


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Volunteers help us to offer a varied programme of activities to thousands of visitors each year. ‘Public Engagement’ volunteering is about being a warm and supportive team player – ready to lend a hand, and always with a smile. If you would enjoy interacting with visitors and making their visits the best that they can be, then please read on!

Ad hoc volunteering (Activity and Event Helpers)

Most of our volunteers help on an ad hoc basis: welcoming visitors, running simple gallery activities, and gathering feedback. Events may be aimed at families, schools, the general public, and/or invited guests. They usually take place during the holidays and on Saturdays, although there are opportunities to get involved during the week – both daytime and evening – throughout the year. Enthusiasm is more important than experience or expertise; as long as you’re willing to give it a go and get stuck in, then staff will tell you everything you need to know at a short briefing before the event starts. The first step to getting involved in ad hoc volunteering is to attend an induction. These are advertised throughout the year. Volunteers then receive regular emails (monthly, with weekly updates) listing the opportunities they can get involved in.

More regular volunteering

Some volunteers are part of a specific team and help more regularly (daytime: weekly, fortnightly, or monthly), e.g. delivering tours, running object handling, engaging families, and assisting at the welcome desk. Great communication skills are key to this type of volunteering, which is all about sharing a love for a particular museum and inspiring others! These opportunities are advertised and recruited for as and when teams need topping-up – often just once or twice a year. Because of the extra training involved, the anticipated commitment is generally greater and there may be more competition to join in.


Some volunteers assist curatorial, administrative, marketing, or education staff in non-public-facing roles. This may be an ongoing opportunity or part of a particular project – helping on a regular basis over a number of weeks or for several days over a shorter, more intensive period (please note that opportunities are generally weekday daytime).

The exact nature of the work depends upon the department's needs and the volunteer's skills and interests, but key qualities include a methodical approach and attention to detail, as well as a generally helpful manner.

Opportunities are advertised and recruited for on an as-and-when basis. Numbers of volunteers are often restricted by the amount of work space and staff time available, and competition can be particularly high.


Teams of volunteers help with a variety of seasonal, practical tasks, usually within a specific plant collection, weekday daytime on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

These opportunities are advertised and recruited for as and when teams need topping-up – often a couple of times a year. Because of the extra training involved, there is a higher anticipated level of commitment.


Now that you know more about the sort of things you could do, why not start the process of actually getting involved?




How to become a volunteer

Join the mailing list

Join our mailing list by creating a 'MyImpactPage' account and completing an initial form. At this point, we ask for your contact information, date of birth, and general interests.



Wait for emails

We will email you about opportunities relevant to your interests as and when they arise. Some opportunities are recruited for regularly, but many are recruited for occasionally or only once.



Apply for a role and go through selection

All role descriptions include information about how to apply for that role. This might include attending an informal interview, audition, or group induction, writing something about yourself, or simply expressing an interest.



Complete your profile
If you are selected for a role, we will send you a link to fill in a second form. At this point, we ask for details of an emergency contact, contact details for two referees, a criminal conviction declaration, and equal opportunity monitoring information.



Complete your paperwork
We will send for your references and ask you to bring in photo ID. If relevant, we will also carry out a Right to Work check, a DBS check, and/or ask for guardian consent (for 16 and 17 year olds). All paperwork must be completed before you can start volunteering.



Induction and training
You can attend induction and training even if you haven’t finished your paperwork. The amount of time involved will depend on the role. For some roles it might be a couple of hours; for others it might be a few days.



Start volunteering
Hooray! You are officially a volunteer. Someone will be in touch to confirm the practical details of your volunteering (i.e. dates, activities) soon. We hope you have fun!