Behind-the-Scenes Volunteers

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Engage in a variety of multi-faceted projects in person at the Smithsonian, in your own community around the globe, and even in the Smithsonian’s virtual environment.

The Behind-the-Scenes Volunteer Program is very competitive. Volunteer placement is not guaranteed. Application materials will be reviewed to determine if there are open volunteer opportunities that match skills. When a possible fit is found, an applicant will be contacted for an interview. All applications are kept on file for 1 calendar year.

Time Commitment

Minimum: 3 consecutive months, 6 hours per week

NOTE: Most opportunities for the Behind-the-Scenes Volunteers occur during regular business hours, Monday through Friday.


  • 1:1 interview with Volunteer Management Staff
  • Successfully pass a federal background check
  • Parents of minors must complete and sign a Parent Consent Form prior to interview
  • Qualified applicants are referred to volunteer opportunity supervisor for final consideration


  • A one hour orientation on Smithsonian regulations
  • If job specific training is required, it is provided by the project supervisor on an individual basis

Sample of Behind-the-Scenes Volunteer opportunities

Administrative: general office support (answering phones, filing, data entry)

Archival: cataloguing; organizing and storing paper materials, photographs, film, audio tapes.

Collections Management: labeling, sorting, storing artifacts; entering information about the collection into a database.

Computer*: assisting network managers, helping develop Internet applications, scanning and enhancing images, developing CD ROM applications.

Conservation: creating protective storage containers, cleaning and repairing artifacts.

Curatorial: responding to written inquires from the public, providing research support for staff in a variety of departments.

Development: researching prospective corporate, individual, and foundation donors.

Education: scheduling tours, responding to public inquiries, providing administrative assistance to docent and intern programs.

Horticulture: working in greenhouses, potting, planting, weeding.

Libraries: shelving; cataloguing; storing books, pamphlets, serials; creating annotated bibliographies; maintaining departmental reprint libraries.

Membership: answering written inquires, responding to phone calls, assisting with mailings, developing flyers, maintaining membership databases.

Public Affairs: preparing press packets, assisting with special events and media relations, clipping newspaper and magazine articles about exhibitions and museums.

Translation Services*: Translating documents, correspondence, and journal articles for Smithsonian staff. Translators generally work at home at their own pace, but occasionally, may be called upon to provide oral interpretation assistance for official visitors during meetings and conferences.

* Evening and/or weekend opportunities may be possible

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