Skip to main content.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Website Search Box
Toucan of Barro Colorado Island, Panama


We need your help! Here's your chance to join some of the great scientific research projects and educational activities of the Museum. There is something for everyone! From helping produce exhibitions to piecing together ancient pottery to taking critical measurements of specimens; from interacting with the visiting public to editing text for publications the National Museum of Natural History is recruiting volunteers of all ages to join our science activities and public programs.


Wonderful opportunities are available to help with school programs, Discovery Room and Discovery Cart programs, FossiLab, O. Orkin Insect Zoo; attend our Paleontological Training Program; contribute to the efforts of or our Press Office; and share in the behind-the-scenes activities of our scientific departments. Opportunities are available for volunteering at the Natural History Museum on the National Mall in Washington DC as well as at the Naturalist Center in Leesburg, Virginia. Training is provided; positions are generally available weekdays only but some opportunities offer weekend possibilities.

Docent Programs

Docents are volunteer teachers who provide group learning experiences in the form of museum tours, demonstrations, or instruction in special activity areas. Here are some things docents do:

- Provide learning opportunities for school groups. These are conducted on a prescheduled basis and are designed to supplement the classroom curriculum or accommodate a specific study interest.

- Offer highlights tours. These are available to the public on a walk-in basis and provide an overview of some of the popular and significant Museum exhibitions.

- Host demonstrations and hands-on activity areas. These offer an in-depth look at an exhibition, a collection, or a discipline. Some occur on a regular walk-in basis; others must be prescheduled.

Please visit our Volunteer Opportunities section within our Education Department for more information about docent opportunities at the Museum.

Paleontological Training Program

Paleontological Training Program

The Paleontological Training Program is designed to acquaint interested members of the public with fossils and the history of life, as well as methods of paleontological collecting, conservation, collections management, and the nature of research at the Museum of Natural History, in the expectation that participants will volunteer in areas of research, collections management, or other activities of the Museums research Department of Paleobiology. If you are interested in a behind-the-scenes experience, with the potential of becoming a Museum volunteer among the world’s largest collections of fossils, complete our on-line registration form.

Translation Services

We also seek volunteers for our Translation Services. Here you can translate 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.

Interested in volunteering?

Contact the Department of Education and Outreach or VIARC (info. below) to discuss opportunities.

  • For information about volunteer involvement with the Museum's public education programs, including the Discovery Room, Discovery Cart Program, Naturalist Center, O. Orkin Insect Zoo, or Exhibit Tour opportunities, please visit our volunteering pages.

  • For information about unique opportunities to join the behind-the-scenes activities at the National Museum of Natural History by working with the Museum's scientific staff on research topics, technical projects, or collections investigations, please visit our listing of volunteer projects available.

  • For information about Behind-the-Scenes volunteer opportunities at the Smithsonian visit: Visitor Information and Associates' Reception Center, Behind-the-Scenes Volunteer Program, or request an application.

Contact VIARC
Smithsonian Information
SI Bldg., Rm. 153
MRC 010, PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012

Phone: (202) 633-1000
Fax: (202) 357-1729
Please provide postal address or print the application form and mail the completed form to the address above. You may include a résumé (maximum 2 pages e-mailed separately), if you wish. Upon receiving your application, we will contact you to schedule an interview.

[ TOP ]