Volunteering at GLAM

The Joint Museums Volunteer Service aims to widen access, increase depth of participation, and promote diversity, equality, and social outcomes through its volunteering opportunities. 

It's about working in a mutually beneficial way with our volunteers to make the most of their talents, knowledge, experience, and interests, whilst also acknowledging the positive contributions they make to our visitors and collections.

Each year, more than 500 volunteers together give more than 20,000 hours to helping in public-facing and behind-the-scenes roles at the:

  • Ashmolean
  • Bate Collection of Musical Instruments
  • Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum
  • History of Science Museum
  • Museum of Natural History
  • Pitt Rivers Museum
  • Weston Library


We are very grateful to our volunteers and hope that they enjoy sharing their enthusiasm, building their confidence, developing their skills, and meeting new people in an inspiring, supportive environment.


Our volunteering opportunities

Handling plesiosaur fossils with the general public, digitising historic prints and conservation documents, welcoming visitors to temporary exhibitions, and helping to run the year-round programme of family friendly events... these are just a few of the opportunities that volunteers have been involved in in recent months.

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. Plus, see our list of current opportunities.

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Stay up to date with volunteering opportunities by registering on our mailing list


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Volunteer sign-in

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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 a Public Engagement 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.

We hope that all Public Engagement volunteers will share the values outlined on Our Volunteers page.


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.

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