The Volunteer Service

We know that science communication isn't for everyone, but for some of our volunteers, it's in the DNA...

Last year, Pitt Rivers volunteer guides highlighted the truly international nature of WWI using wartime objects in the collection

Last year, 'Objects of Invention', a volunteer project led by the Museum of the History of Science, was shortlisted for a national public engagement award

Read the Museum of Natural History's blog celebrating its volunteers

The Volunteer Service supports volunteers across the seven Oxford University Museums and Collections. We are very grateful to our volunteers, whose vital contributions make a real and valued difference to our work.

What do volunteers do?

Most volunteers work with the public: from helping with family friendly activities to manning the information desk, and from stewarding late-night events to delivering introductory tours.

A small number of volunteers help in other areas of the collections: assisting curatorial, administrative, or education staff in a more behind-the-scenes capacity.

Volunteering can be a great way to build skills and confidence. You don't need specialist knowledge to volunteer; what you will need is an enthusiasm for the collections and a willingness to get stuck in!

Why do people volunteer?

People volunteer for a variety of reasons: some want to share their passion for the collections; some want to do something to benefit the museums and the communities they serve; some want to develop specific skills; and some simply want to do something a bit different in a friendly, social environment.

Who volunteers?

  • Working people                                     
  • Non-working people                                 
  • Young volunteers aged 16 and 17*
  • Students in Higher Education
  • Recent graduates
  • Career changers                                        
  • Retired people
  • Anyone with a bit of time to spare!  

*Only certain roles are open to 'young' volunteers.

How does volunteering work?

We recruit volunteers for specific roles periodically throughout the year. Look at the role descriptions and see if any take your fancy. Then complete our registration form, indicating which roles you would like to hear about. When we are next recruiting for one of these roles, we will be in touch. Sometimes you will be asked to apply for a role; other times we will meet everyone who is interested, either at a briefing session or at an informal interview. We will also send for both of your references. Once we have interviewed you and received both references, you will become ‘active’ and will be able to start volunteering.

Please note: This whole process may take several weeks or months, especially for roles other than 'Family Friendly'. Please bear this in mind if you are only available for a limited amount of time.

Types of volunteering opportunities:

For more information, please take a look at our Volunteer Guidelines or at the Frequently Asked Questions.