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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Current Volunteering Opportunities

Woman working in the Forensic Anthropology Lab

Thank you for your interest in volunteering in the Office of Education and Outreach at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Q?rius Volunteers (Education Center)


The National Museum of Natural History is recruiting volunteers for Q?rius, the new Learning Center, opening in the fall of this year.  This state-of-the-art facility will feature touchable collections, accessible scientific tools, and presentations by members of the Museum’s science staff. Q?rius volunteers will be indispensible in bringing the facility’s programs to life, whether by inspiring an individual visitor’s interest in the natural world or by helping students make personal connections to science in innovative and engaging ways.  These volunteers will be more than friendly ambassadors for the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian; they will guide our visitors on the road of scientific understanding and exploration.



  • Greet and orient visitors to the varied and dynamic learning opportunities in seven different experience areas.
  • Proactively assist visitors as they navigate through the 10,000-square-foot space.
  • Encourage visitors to participate in object-based, experimental activities using different media.
  • Assist visitors’ explorations with actual scientific tools and objects.
  • Aid visitors in making personal connections to current research on science and nature.
  • Ensure the safety of more than 10,000 natural science objects in the Q?rius collections.
  • Encourage visitors to continue their experience throughout the museum, at home, and online.
  • Engage visitors of all ages using accurate information and appropriate interpretive guidance.
  • Facilitate family and group interpretive programs in Q?rius.
  • Participate actively in volunteer training programs and other opportunities to expand their own knowledge and strengthen their interpretive skills.
  • Set up, take down and put away program materials and supplies.
  • Participate in ongoing evaluation programs.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.



  • Excellent speaking skills, especially the ability to express scientific concepts succinctly.  Must be comfortable and confident speaking to small and large groups.
  • Strong interpersonal skills – must be able to make each visitor feel welcome.
  • Sustained intellectual curiosity in the fields of science, nature, and culture.
  • Friendly attitude towards visitors and staff.  Ability to work as a member of a team.
  • Comfortable using technology as an interpretive tool.
  • Must be able to stand for periods up to 60 minutes.
  • Enthusiastic with visitors of all ages, especially with youth between 10 and 18 years of age.
  • Additional languages, especially Spanish, German, French, and Japanese, are an asset.
  • Informal learning experience is preferred, but not required.



  • One four-hour shift a week, or two weekend days a month. 
  • Initial commitment period of one year requested.


The five-week training sessions begin Saturday, September 28th. Guided by the NMNH team of scientists and educators, volunteers will develop critical skills for working with visitors of all ages and curiosity levels. The Q?rius approach to education is grounded in the theory that people learn best when their inquisitive and problem-solving faculties are engaged. Training sessions include self-directed, participatory, and online activities. Volunteers will understand both inquiry-based and discussion-based strategies for engaging the public; they will function as storytellers and facilitators, not lecturers. Training materials and techniques will include online discussions, thought-provoking readings, and role-playing.

Email Jill Sanderson ( to apply.

Share this opportunity with others! Download a flyer here.

Are you a teen interested in volunteering in Q?rius? Click here!

Q?rius jr. Volunteers (Education Center)

Q?rius jr.:  a Discovery Room is an interactive space geared to families with children who want to explore the natural world at their own pace.  Volunteers guide students and families through dynamic activities, help them find answers to their questions, and encourage their curiosity.
We have two opportunities to become involved in Q?rius jr:   

  • Family Programs Volunteers provide an engaging environment for families to interact together during public hours.   
  • School Program volunteers work with students in grades K-8 in small groups.  The programs we offer are: Discovering Dinosaurs; Animal Coverings; Shell Classification, Mineral Identification; Insect Survival; Unearthing Egypt: and Exploring Ecosystems. 

Volunteers will be asked to work a minimum of 8 hours a month.

Please contact Cara Clark, Q?rius jr. a Discovery Room Coordinator at or visit our website for more information.

Share this opportunity with others! Download a flyer here.

Hall of Geology, Gems & Minerals Volunteer

The Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals contains thousands of world-class rocks, minerals and meteorites that tell fascinating stories about how our planet and solar system were formed and continue to evolve today. Volunteers will enhance the visitor experience by providing visitors with unique experiences and a wider understanding of how geology impacts in our daily lives.



  • Introduce visitors to the exhibit and answer questions
  • Enhance visitor experience by encouraging visitors to think more deeply about geology
  • Help visitors understand how geologic objects can tell us about Earth’s past, present and future
  • Engage visitors in interactive discussions about geology and how it relates to current issues



  • 5 evening sessions beginning in late October
  • Will include: Scientific content in meteorites, plate tectonics, and minerals & gems,
  • How to engage diverse audiences
  • Training will be led by museum educators from and researchers



  • Interest in understanding geology
  • Comfortable working with diverse audiences
  • Good communication skills
  • No prior knowledge of geology necessary, but teaching experience and a science background are a bonus
  • Ability to multi-task


For more information, please email

The Last American Dinosaurs Exhibit Guide

In November 2014, The National Museum of Natural History will open the exhibit, The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World. Sixty-six million years ago, the last dinosaurs roamed what is now the Western Interior of North America. Then global catastrophe ended their reign, leaving only a single group of dinosaurs -- birds -- to survive. Like all life, dinosaurs were part of a complex ecological community of animals and plants. Join us as we piece together a picture of their world by looking at fossils from this ancient time.

This four-year exhibition will provide our visitors with the opportunity to see dinosaurs and other fossils and to learn about mass extinction events, in particular the K/Pg extinction event that occurred 66 million years ago, and the role these events play in shaping past, present, and future ecosystems. We will also “pull back the curtain” for a peek behind the exhibit development process by including the lively dialogue
between science and art that leads to beautiful and accurate reconstructions of life in the past.



  • Introduce visitors to the exhibit and answer questions
  • Encourage visitors to think more deeply about paleontology including how fossils help us understand past worlds, extinction and dinosaur biology.
  • Interpret the behind-the-scenes work of fossil preparation happening in the FossiLab
  • Lead visitors in hands-on activities that will enhance understanding of paleontology



  • Five sessions beginning in late October
  • Will include sessions on museum learning, visitor engagement, paleontology, and fossil preparation
  • The engaging and interactive training will be led by Museum educators and paleontologists



  • Interest in understanding paleontology
  • Comfortable working with diverse audiences
  • Good communication skills
  • Teaching experience and a science background are a bonus
  • Ability to multitask

For more information, please email

Insect Zoo and Butterfly Pavilion Ambassadors

Come join a team of Insect Ambassadors at the Smithsonian’s Insect Zoo and Butterfly Pavilion! Share your interest in butterflies, insects, and the natural world with the museum’s diverse visitors. Within these exhibits you will find several hundred tropical butterflies and over 50 species of arthropods from all over the world.

Being an Insect Ambassador is vital in engaging the minds of our visitors. You can inspire conversations and be a guide into the world of insects.  As an Insect Ambassador, you will have the opportunity to participate in any combination of the following exciting opportunities: 

  • Working with live tropical butterflies from all over the world
  • Encouraging visitors to get a closer look with live insect handling
  • Leading activities highlighting amazing butterfly adaptations
  • Giving tarantula feeding demonstrations 
  • Sparking visitor curiosity through engaging interactions
  • And so much more!



  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Welcoming personality and enthusiasm for working with the museum’s diverse visitors
  • Dedication and dependability
  • Interest in the subjects of nature, butterflies, insects, spiders, evolution, plants or other related fields
  • Ability to actively engage visitors throughout the four hour shift, breaks available  
  • Ability to tolerate moderately high temperatures and humidity (Butterfly Pavilion)
  • Additional languages are beneficial  



  • Volunteers must be at least 18 years old
  • Able to work a minimum of two four-hour shifts a month
  • Minimum of a one year commitment
  • Must attend a one day training session and at least 2 continuing education programs per year
  • Must pass background investigation



  • Volunteers are required to attend a one day training session
  • Materials will be provided (handbook, insect fact sheets, readings)
  • Volunteers will learn:
    • The natural history of our insects and butterflies
    • Visitor engagement skills
    • How to handle live insects  


Email Lisa Porter at