Our invaluable volunteers help make the Ashmolean such an exciting and accessible place to learn. Find out who they are and how to join the team
Volunteering at the Ashmolean can be an enriching and rewarding experience and a great way to learn more about the collections, meet new people and engage with our visitors. Full training is provided for all volunteering opportunities, so you don’t need to be an expert to join the team and we welcome applications from anyone with some time and enthusiasm to give.
Our volunteering opportunities are recruited through the GLAM Volunteer Service, as with all Gardens, Libraries and Museums at the University of Oxford.
Follow the link below to see all opportunities across the sites and apply. Sign-up to the mailing list to be sent details of opportunities as they arise.
Since completing my PhD in Archaeology last year, I now volunteer on the Welcome Desk. It can get super busy, but I love talking to the visitors. Last week a gentleman came in who had recently suffered
a brain injury; he wanted to see the Impressionist paintings, so I helped him to the gallery. He was so happy and grateful to see the paintings, it made me feel happy to have been able to help. I also love it when families come in and I can show them how to use the Explorers Kit; it’s wonderful to see the kids running around looking at the objects.
I learn something new on every shift, either through researching answers to questions from visitors or from other volunteers whose knowledge has developed over time. When I started, I was assigned a mentor who had been volunteering for nine years. I shadowed her and she briefed me on key objects and questions that would come up. Regular training and learning about the education family packs has helped increase my confidence, so that I can now recommend areas of the collection to interested visitors. Museums are meaningful places where people can find joy – which for me is why I love to work in this environment and help to make those moments happen.
Jeff Koons was the perfect entry point for me as a volunteer on the Exhibition Desk, having seen his retrospective in Bilbao in 2015.
My background is also in contemporary art: I was a curator for what used to be the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford and then Director of OVADA. Given the amount of publicity, the show attracted lots of new visitors to the Museum. There were high expectations: it was great seeing the visitors’ expressions, and their delight on being told that they could take photographs of this exhibition, which helped increase our social media presence. Part of my role is to answer questions and mitigate concerns. One visitor did not take to the exhibition, for instance, so I was able to point her in the direction of the Dimensions display, which was more to her taste.
On starting as a volunteer, I had a brilliant in-depth tour of Jeff Koons and I have since really come to feel part of the organisation. Volunteers are so well supported: we are invited to join the Director’s monthly lunch and to take part in important All Staff Meetings, we have access to lectures and we go on training courses to learn about the collections database. It’s very valuable to feel part of the Museum and part of GLAM, which also makes the voluntary work compatible with my future career prospects.