Behind the Seen volunteers

All our volunteers and interns who work at the Museum behind the scenes come under the Behind the Seen programme. 

As a Behind the Seen volunteer you will share our passionate belief in the Museum’s mission to explore the diversity of the natural world and to use the knowledge gained to promote responsible interaction with the natural world.

Our Behind the Seen volunteer opportunities are advertised online.

Search for current volunteer vacancies

Our precious collections of more than 70 million specimens require regular maintenance, labelling and cataloguing to support internal and external researchers. Most Behind the Seen volunteering opportunities involve projects relating to the collections.

The Behind the Seen volunteer programme seeks those with a passion for the natural world and natural history who are 18 or over. The programme suits enthusiastic individuals looking to work with collections, build essential skills in curation, and, occasionally, research projects. It also includes our Wildlife Garden.

These volunteers are involved in our  and in the Museum's Wildlife Garden and in our non-science areas such as communications, interpretation and design, and on our special exhibitions and events.

Wildlife Garden volunteer on pond

Garden volunteer explores pond-life

Science departments and the Wildlife Garden
  • Botany
  • Entomology
  • Library & Archives
  • Mineralogy
  • Palaeontology
  • Zoology
  • Wildlife Garden

Typical responsibilities

Typical responsibilities of Behind the Seen volunteers 
  • Imaging
  • Indexing
  • Cataloguing
  • Labelling and re-labelling specimens
  • Loans administration
  • Packing, unpacking and repacking of specimens
  • Rehousing collections
  • Reorganising collections
  • Respiriting (topping up) wet collections
  • Sorting reprints
  • Literature search
  • Sorting specimens
  • Monitoring and recording

Commitment

Your commitment as a Behind the Seen volunteer

You'll need a passion for the natural world and natural history.

Ideally, Behind the Seen volunteers should be able to offer 5 - 7 hours a week minimum commitment for over 4 months or more. 

We encourage long-term commitment where possible. This helps to ensure the placement is mutually beneficial to volunteers, students and the Museum alike and maximises the benefit of training and Museum resources.

If you are interested in a more intensive but short-term role, an internship may suit you better.

Find out about internships

Support

Support for Behind the Seen volunteers

Volunteers are under the guidance and supervision of their volunteer manager (a member of Museum staff). 

As a volunteer you may also work with colleagues in a relevant section, laboratory or department. 

The Volunteers Project Manager and a team of departmental volunteer representatives will ensure that you are well looked after and supported throughout your time as a volunteer with us.

Training

Behind the Seen volunteer training

For the majority of Behind the Seen opportunities, no formal training is required. 

The most successful and satisfied volunteers will be those who are willing to learn new skills quickly and actively apply them to the projects we advertise.

Relevant training opportunities are outlined in each volunteer opportunity so please be conscious of this on your application. All necessary role-related training will be provided at the Museum.

Find out about Museum benefits and expenses