For more information about volunteering:
Phone: +44 (0)20 7323 8853
Write to us:
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG
More than 500 volunteers support the Museum throughout the year, in a variety of roles.
Volunteers share their knowledge and enthusiasm by delivering daily eye-opener tours, they help the public enjoy the collection in numerous other ways and support behind-the-scenes activities in almost every department. And that's just the start.
Every volunteer offers invaluable support to the Museum, and they get something back from it too.
Here are some of the benefits of volunteering at the British Museum:
- Meet people from around the world
- Learn about world cultures
- Make new friends
- Share your passion and enthusiasm
- Learn new skills
- Become part of a supportive team and community
- Access to exclusive events and training for volunteers
- Enjoy the Museum and its collection
Read the British Museum's:
Volunteering helps make the Museum feel accessible and welcoming... it's an enjoyable and stimulating experience. Volunteering is also a lot of fun!A British Museum volunteer
Hands on desks
Volunteer-run Hands on desks allow visitors to handle real objects, and to find out more about the collection, through relaxed informal conversations.
Volunteers facilitate the object handling, encourage discussion and answer visitors' questions.
'The most enjoyable aspect of volunteering on the Hands on desks is the interaction with the visitors. Every time, I get to talk to different people from all over the world. Through discussions with them, I learn more about the objects.
'My favourite memory is when I met a visitor from Turkey and we discussed the Arabic coffee pot. She worked at a museum in Istanbul and was an absolute expert in the objects! So instead of me giving her an introduction, she explained to me the whole history of Turkish coffee. That really made my day!'
– Bihe, Islamic World Hands on desk
Behind the scenes
Behind the scenes
Volunteering opportunities behind the scenes vary according to the work of each department and their current needs.
Departmental volunteers help with tasks such as cataloguing objects, evaluating exhibitions and delivering learning programmes.
'I really enjoy volunteering with the Communities department. I get to see so many interesting things from all over the world. For example, the beautifully made padded jacket from Western China is so practical and warm, and is decorated with wonderful colours. I also love being part of a team and discovering the variety of work that's conducted within the museum.'
– Jane, Communities team
Eye-opener tours introduce visitors to the Museum's collection through a variety of guided talks that take place in different galleries across the Museum. There are 15 tours that run every day on a range of topics.
'Since I was an undergraduate archaeology student in Syria, it was one of my dreams to visit the British Museum one day and see the objects that I spent my time studying in books and museum catalogues.
'In the beginning, I wasn't sure that I could conduct the Eye-opener tour. However, with the support of the Volunteers' Office and my fellow volunteers, I was able to overcome my worries.'
– Mohamad, Eye-opener tours
Friday night Spotlight tours
Friday night spotlight tours
The spotlight tours introduce visitors to key objects in the Museum's collection. We offer four tours every Friday evening, each lasting about 20 minutes.
Volunteers take visitors on a short tour of the collection and answer questions.
'I've always loved visiting the British Museum - it is a beautiful building, with so much to enjoy and discover inside.
'Learning about the objects on my tour is always fun. My favourite object to talk about is the Rosetta Stone. Visitors just love it and are genuinely keen to find out all they can.'
– Cecilia, Spotlight tours
Volunteers are actively involved in delivering, shaping and developing guided LGBTQ tours of the British Museum. The Museum's collection – and the LGBTQ tours – both show that same-sex love, desire and gender diversity are an integral part of human experience. The way they have been expressed culturally has varied widely around the globe and over time.
'I've always been interested in the way the past has influenced who we are and I was keen to share my enthusiasm for that story with British Museum visitors.
'I believe that our LGBTQ tours are a great way of highlighting same-sex desire and gender fluidity through the exceptional range of historical periods and cultures covered by the museum's collections. People joining the tour get an understanding of how widespread these themes are in the human experience.'
– Chris, LGBTQ tours
Touch tour volunteers
Touch tour volunteers
A volunteer-facilitated Touch tour is available for blind and partially-sighted visitors in the Egyptian sculpture displays (Room 4). The tour features nine objects and lasts about an hour. Volunteers welcome the attendees, helping them navigate the physical space of the Museum and guide their exploration of the tour objects through touch and discussion.
'The touch tours are very intimate, as you only have one or two visitors and you can really tailor the experience to suit their interests. Helping visually impaired visitors access the collection is a privilege, and I love to make their visit extra special.
'It's an absolute privilege to be part of this wonderful institution and volunteering at the British Museum has become an integral part of my identity and an aspect of my life that I truly cherish.'
– Mariu, Touch tours