Giving vital support
to the work of
the Museum

Volunteers contribute to the work of the Museum in many different ways, from engaging with visitors in the galleries, to supporting the work of the Museum’s curatorial, learning or administrative departments.

Volunteer policy 

Volunteers at the British Museum

Current opportunities- Hands On Desk Volunteers

We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to join our Hands on programme which provides visitors with a unique opportunity to handle genuine objects from the Museum’s collection. There are currently seven Hands on desks spread throughout the galleries which are open daily, seven days a week, between 11.00 and 16.00. This is a great opportunity to learn about the Museum’s collection and to engage with our visitors.

This volunteer role involves

  • Encouraging visitors to handle objects and demonstrating how to do so safely
  • Engaging visitors in discussions about the objects and cultures represented
  • Helping visitors to make connections between the handling objects and the displays
  • Assisting with visitor enquiries
  • Participating in training sessions and self-led learning

How the programme is organised

  • Volunteers train for a single Hands on desk at a time
  • Once trained, volunteers will be entered onto on a fixed rota system where they undertake two sessions in a four-week period. A session is either 11.00-13.30 or 13.30-16.00
  • The rota is issued on a six monthly basis
  • In the event that volunteers cannot make their session, we ask that they swap with a fellow volunteer so that their session is covered

What we would like from you

  • To enjoy talking to people and to be enthusiastic about engaging our visitors with the Museum’s collection
  • To have an interest in working with all Museum audiences including families, adults and school groups
  • To have a keen interest in the British Museum and its collection
  • To be able to commit to leading two sessions in a four-week period for a minimum of six months

What you can expect from us

  • We will provide you with training on different ways to engage visitors at a Hands on desk and with information about the objects. Prior knowledge of the collection is not required.
  • The opportunity to be a part of the British Museum volunteers team and to be involved in a range of activities


We currently have availability for sessions on weekdays and weekends across the different Hands on desks.

Please only apply if you are available to attend a selection session on Thursday 20 October 17.30-19.30. If you are invited to join the programme you will also be required to attend an Induction Session on Friday 4 November 17.30-19.30.

How to apply

Please complete the Volunteer Enquiry form and send this and a copy of your CV to volunteers@britishmuseum.org quoting ‘Hands on opportunity’ as the subject line.          

Closing date for applications: Friday 7 October 2016 17.00.