The word "museum" comes from the Greek word "mouseion," a place dedicated to the study and appreciation of the muses.

In society, museums play the role of collecting and caring for objects of cultural, political, artistic or historical importance and making them available to the public. Museums are generally nonprofits funded by government grants and private donations.

Typically, they rely heavily on volunteers, who do everything from handing out tickets to leading tours and cataloguing inventory.

Volunteering for a museum is typically an easy process. Most museum volunteer positions require filling out an application and in some cases, providing a resume and references as well as undergoing an interview and training program. But the hardest part may be deciding where to donate your time.

That decision depends on your interests, talents and availability, not to mention which museums are in your area. 

Other activities volunteers can become involved in:

  • Programme for the year
    • See dates of public holidays
    • Programme to be finalised shortly in Trustee planning session – 19 January 2008
  • Oral History
  • Outreach programme
  • Growth of volunteer corps
    • New members
    • Identify new members
    • Function to invite and convince people to join up
  • Collections and storage
  • This information on volunteer work and guiding at the South End Museum must be viewed as a beginner guide and needs continuous upgrading

Benefits of Being a Museum Volunteer

When it comes to finding a job, it's all about who you know and what you can do. And a museum can be the perfect training ground for launching your career.

Working at a museum can help sharpen professional skills like working with the public, organizing programs, raising money and working with computers. It can also beef up your resume and help facilitate a move from one industry to another -- such as a banker who transitions into becoming a history teacher by volunteering at a historical museum [source: Weiss].

It's not just about getting out of the house and finding something to do. Volunteering at a museum expands your network and puts you in contact with patrons, fellow volunteers and museum administrators. If you're looking for regular employment beyond your volunteer work, this could lead you to the next big thing (or at least help you find something that just might pay the mortgage).

Job searching aside, studies have shown that volunteering leads to greater life satisfaction, lower rates of depression and better mental and physical health, according to the Corporation for National & Community Service [source: Imperial Valley News].

For those interested in a career in museums -- such as becoming a curator, archivist or historian -- interning or volunteering at a museum is essential.

Health and Safety Considerations

Volunteer health and safety is a top priority for South End Museum. All volunteers are expected to follow any safety protocols currently in place, such as mandatory use of masks, social distancing, and administration of a daily health questionnaire. For a better understanding of the Museum's commitment to health and safety, please review the Visitors Guidelines.

Due to the uncertain nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and related health and safety concerns, the Museum may need to change, delay, or suspend certain volunteer activities in the future and from time to time, with little or no notice. We appreciate your patience and flexibility as we navigate this health crisis together.