Volunteer

Our volunteer activities

Why volunteer?

Volunteering is a way to get involved and give back to the community, have fun, and feel valued in a friendly environment. For those thinking about a career in arts and heritage the experience of volunteering in a gallery can help you develop your skills and experience and enhance your employability.

We believe that volunteering should be mutually beneficial, we are flexible with the time you can commit, and we will provide role-specific training and support for you to be successful in your volunteer role.

Who volunteers?

Volunteers are people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, and experience. Volunteering with the National Galleries of Scotland is open to everyone with an interest in art and heritage. Volunteering provides interesting and engaging opportunities for people to get involved and helps the National Galleries of Scotland connect directly to our community.

The National Galleries of Scotland is committed to fostering an environment where every volunteer feels welcome and valued. It is our aim to engage volunteers who are representative of our community.

Volunteering with the National Galleries of Scotland


Volunteering provides engaging opportunities for people to get involved and helps the National Galleries of Scotland connect directly to our community. In this film we hear from four people about their experiences of volunteering with the National Galleries of Scotland.

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What do volunteers do?

Volunteers are involved with every aspect of our work, front-of-house and behind-the-scenes. They help us care for, research, interpret, and display the collection. Volunteers bring new ideas, different perspectives, and an authentic voice from the community.

With the support of our volunteers, we can provide a better quality visitor experience, share the collection more widely, and promote the cultural and historical importance of the collection. Many of our volunteers love art, and love the collection, and want to make a personal contribution to ensure its continued success.

Volunteer opportunities

Volunteering opportunities are as diverse as the collection itself. Every volunteer opportunity has a unique role description so you know what to expect before you express your interest. Volunteering opportunities can be categorised into five main areas: collections care, event support, administration, visitor experience, and specialist projects.

Collections Care

Caring for the collection comes in many forms and within several areas including Conservation, Registrars, and Collection Services. A keen interest in the collection and a methodical approach help in these roles. 

Learning the standard fitting method with our Conservation Technicians, keeping meticulous records of artwork movements as they travel to and from our Galleries, and making sure our precious library resources are in the best storage conditions are just a few examples.

Volunteers in the prints and drawings study room

Event Support

Events come in all shapes and sizes and are organised by multiple teams including Education, Development, and Marketing. An infectious smile, positive attitude and people skills are the foundation of these opportunities.

The Development team regularly host events for our Friends members in collaboration with our Friends Committee. Supporting Education events may involve chatting to families as they create art together; guiding visually impaired visitors on a tour of an exhibition; welcoming visitors to an evening concert or lecture; or making sure everyone has a tea or coffee during our Gallery Socials. The Marketing team organise events, often outdoors at the Gallery of Modern Art, where volunteers welcome families and provide information about what’s on at the National Galleries of Scotland.

Administration

The National Galleries of Scotland benefits greatly from the administrative support of volunteers. A basic level of computer literacy is helpful and attention to detail is important.

This may involve entering Gift Aid data into our fundraising database; reviewing curatorial files to create a searchable table of contents; digitising labels to preserve an artwork’s history; organising our press cuttings into a database after each exhibition; or transcribing and analysing visitor comments which contribute to our planning process for the public programme.

Visitor Experience

Visitors are at the heart of everything that we do and volunteers help us to provide the highest standard of customer service to make the most of each visitor’s experience.

Your role may be to welcome visitors and provide information about what’s on or to chat with them about their experience with tailored surveys. We are always developing new and exciting ways for visitors to engage with the collection and your help putting ideas into action is invaluable.  

Specialist Projects

Occasionally opportunities to help with more in-depth projects may arise. These projects may require more technical skills or knowledge in art history, conservation, or digital tools.  For example, conducting market research, auditing or cataloguing the collection, creating content for our digital channels, or researching the provenance of our collection for due diligence. Projects range from a few weeks to several months and are based around clearly stated goals and outcomes over a defined period of time.

All of our volunteer opportunities are advertised on our website:

See Current Volunteering Opportunities

Case Studies

You can read more about the work of the Volunteer programme, by taking a look at our Case Studies:

Working in Partnership - Heritage Volunteer Organisers Scotland
Volunteer Voice: Samantha

Equality of Opportunity

Our volunteer opportunities are open to everyone with an interest in art and heritage and have the right to volunteer in the UK. Every expression of interest will be considered with regard to our equal opportunities policy. All necessary role-specific training and regular support and supervision will be provided.

For more information about our policies or the volunteer recruitment process, please refer to the Volunteer Programme Policy.

Volunteer Programme Policy (PDF will open in new window)

Helpful tips

Volunteer opportunities within the National Galleries of Scotland are in high demand and we cannot guarantee a volunteer placement for everyone who expresses their interest. When applying for a volunteer opportunity you will need to demonstrate that you can perform the role with reasonable support and show a genuine interest in what we do to have the best chance of success.

If you don’t see something you are interested in, or if the right opportunity does not appear at the right time for you, you may wish to contact your local Volunteer Centre or Volunteer Scotland to explore other volunteering opportunities.

 

 

Volunteer programme contact details

Volunteer Programme Coordinator
Modern Two Lodge
72 Belford Road
Edinburgh
EH4 3DS

+44 (0)131 624 6294

volunteer@nationalgalleries.org