How to Volunteer at a Museum

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. Big museums like the Smithsonian and Metropolitan Museum of Art offer formal internship programs that are a great place to start.

And remember, the AAM's job search database is one of the best resources for finding a museum job or internship [source: AAM].

For more on volunteering at a museum, see the links on the following page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Association of Museums. (Accessed 5/23/09)
  • City Town Info. "Idle Workers Attracted to Volunteer Jobs." (Accessed 5/23/09)
  • "Archivists, Curators, and Museum Technicians." (Accessed 5/23/09)
  • General George S. Patton Museum. (Accessed 5/23/09)
  • Georgia O'Keefe Museum. (Accessed 5/23/09)
  • Imperial Valley News. "Suffering from Recession Depression? Try Volunteering." (Accessed 6/01/2009)
  • Museum of Tolerance. (Accessed 5/23/09)
  • Norman Rockwell Museum. (Accessed 5/23/09)
  • The National Archive. "Visit Presidential Libraries and Museums." (Accessed 5/23/09)
  • The Official Museum Directory. "About the Official Museum Directory." (Accessed 5/23/09)
  • Weiss, Tara. "Laid Off? Become a Volunteer." Forbes. 3/1/09. (Accessed 5/23/09)