What do volunteers do at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences?

Volunteers assist in a variety of ways facilitating Visitor Experiences on the floor and assisting ‘Behind the Scenes’ in departments such as Curatorial and Conservation.

A volunteer demonstrates a pump in The Steam Revolution exhibition
A volunteer demonstrates a pump in The Steam Revolution exhibition

Volunteer hosts provide a starting point for visitors to the MAAS site. Volunteer hosts participate in the daily activities of the museum, they provide information to visitors whilst invigilating gallery spaces. It’s a role that requires direct contact with the public and suits people who are good talkers and listeners, and who feel comfortable and at ease interacting with a wide range of people.

Education volunteers assist education staff in the delivery of programs and workshops to school groups. It’s a role that requires direct contact with students and suits people who are good talkers and listeners and who enjoy collaborating with staff.

Exhibition specialists share their knowledge of and interest in a specific subject with MAAS visitors. This would include delivering Outreach talks internally and externally, presenting discovery stations and providing short object talks within the Collection spaces. Discipline specialists need to be confident public speakers and comfortable mixing with people.

Storytellers engage with a broad range of visitors from the very young to the very young at heart. They often present relevant children’s books to the museum’s younger audiences but can also be called upon to use their unique communication skills to bring exhibitions and objects alive in a fun, narrative based interpretation for the visitor.

Curatorial volunteer Alysha Buss assists Leonie Jones in the photography studio
Curatorial volunteer Alysha Buss assists Leonie Jones in the photography studio

Behind the Scenes volunteers support staff in work that happens outside the public areas of the museum, in a wide range of departments including; Education and Visitor Services, Curatorial, Registration, Conservation and IT.

Please note: Positions in Behind the Scenes departments are limited and are first made available to our existing pool of volunteers and are then advertised here.

What qualifications and experience do I need?

Volunteers come from a range of backgrounds and age groups, they are united by a love of science and design, coupled with a keenness to learn and willingness to be part of the team at the Powerhouse. Some people prefer to use their existing skills in their volunteer work, whilst others elect to develop new skills and assist in areas where they have an interest but no prior work experience. Some departments require a degree of experience of their volunteers, however this depends upon the task being performed.

Can I volunteer any day?

It depends upon the voluntary role you take up. Most ‘visitor experience’ roles are available 7 days a week. ‘Behind the scenes’ roles are only available on weekdays.

What training is provided?

Visitor Experience volunteers must commit to four half-day training sessions, covering such topics as customer service, basics of museum interpretation and education, Museum content and taking guided tours. Behind the scenes volunteers are provided orientation training and then trained on the job by their supervisors.

Is there ongoing training?

Yes – we have an extensive training and professional development program to support volunteers in their role and allow them to experience all areas of the museum.

Does the Powerhouse Museum provide travel assistance to its volunteers?

No, it does not. We ask you to carefully consider the financial impact that regular attendance at the Museum will have on your budget.

Am I covered for insurance while volunteering with the Museum?

Staff and volunteers in the Eveleigh Railway Workshop
Staff and volunteers in the Eveleigh Railway Workshop

Volunteers are fully covered by appropriate insurance coverage when volunteering on the Museum premises. Volunteers are not covered travelling to and from the Museum. All volunteers must complete the volunteer registration form and fill out the attendance sheets each time they work at the Museum, so they are covered in case of an accident.

Volunteer Recognition and Benefits

  • Quarterly Newsletter and weekly Bulletin
  • Regular social outings and activities
  • Annual Volunteer Celebration/Christmas Party after completing 40 hours
  • Ongoing Volunteer training sessions and exhibition walkthroughs
  • 10% discount at the Powerhouse Museum shop
  • One year free museum membership after completing 100 hours or 50 weekend hours
  • Access to the Volunteer Centre; lounge, kitchen, library, computer, photocopier

To find out more please contact the Volunteer Program team at volunteercentre@maas.museum.