Volunteer with the Smithsonian

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Smithsonian volunteers play essential roles in sharing our rich collections, exhibitions, research, and educational programming with the public. We are always on the lookout for dynamic, curious individuals who want to be a part of the Smithsonian team. Each year, more than 6,000 volunteers work onsite at our facilities and another 7,500 participate in projects online.

Volunteering at the Smithsonian

- [Narrator] Would you like to operate a panda cam, lead museum tours, or help restore historic spacecraft?

Become a volunteer at the largest museum, education, and research complex in the world, the Smithsonian Institution.

Volunteering has been an essential part of the Smithsonian's mission since the Institution was established in 1846.

In fact, the Smithsonian began with a selfless act of philanthropy when British scientist, James Smithson, left his estate to the United States government to create "an establishment for the increase "and diffusion of knowledge."

In 1855, workers completed the first Smithsonian Institution building, what we refer to today as the Castle on the National Mall.

Over the course over the next 160 years, the Smithsonian continued to expand, adding museums, galleries, research centers, and even a zoo.

2016 saw our most recent addition, the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

From the beginning, our volunteers have helped us accomplish amazing things.

The Smithsonian's first volunteers were 600 citizen scientists who provided monthly weather reports from North and South America during the 1850s.

Soon after, volunteers across the country collected plants, animals, and minerals, essentially crowdsourcing the Smithsonian's early natural history collections, some of which are still on display today. Years later, volunteers helped track satellites during the early days of the Space Race.

Today, the Smithsonian has over 13,000 volunteers. That's twice the number of employees. There are countless volunteer opportunities in nearly every one of the Smithsonian's 19 museums, 12 gardens, nine research centers, and the National Zoo. For example, volunteers conserve our collections, maintain our gardens, feed hungry tarantulas, and much, much more.

Oh, and did we mention that volunteers receive great benefits? Well, they do, such as discounts at Smithsonian museum stores, free IMAX tickets, and access to our libraries. Applying to become a Smithsonian volunteer couldn't be easier.

Interested candidates need to complete an online application and undergo a routine background check.

You're then invited to explore our many volunteer opportunities and discover the right one for you.

So, what are you waiting for?

Become part of a long and proud tradition of service.

Join our team today.

We invite you to explore our many volunteer opportunities, and to discover the right one for you.

Current volunteer openings

Use the links below to view a list of our current volunteer opportunities and to find the online application. Current volunteers and applicants may log in to their profile to apply for additional opportunities, see their schedules, and more.

Volunteer Opportunities Current Volunteer Login

Engage with Smithsonian visitors!

You can share your knowledge and love of learning with visitors to Smithsonian museums and the zoo. With guidance from staff experts, our more than volunteers advise trip planners, lead tours, give gallery talks, offer fun hands-on experiences, and more. You’ll meet people of all ages from across the U.S. and around the world and help them make memories of a lifetime.

Consider which roles and locations might fit your interests.

Prefer to contribute behind-the-scenes?

Smithsonian volunteers can serve in many important, non-public roles, working onsite at one of our facilities or even online from home. Join our staff in caring for collections, collecting research data, program administration, and other critical functions.


Spark the interest of people from all over the world by participating in short-term seasonal opportunities.