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.
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.
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.
Events at National Galleries of Scotland come in all shapes and sizes. 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 Learning 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. The Marketing team organise events, often outdoors at the Gallery of Modern Art, where volunteers welcome families and provide information.
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; or transcribing and analysing visitor comments which contribute to our planning process for the public programme.
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.
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.
Volunteering with the National Galleries of Scotland
Hear what some of our volunteers have to say about their experience with the National Galleries of Scotland.Download transcript
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.
How to apply
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. To have the best chance of success 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.
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.
We are not currently offering work experience placements but hope to reinstate them in the near future. Check this page later for information about how secondary school students who show a genuine interest in art can apply for a placement.
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.
Investing in Volunteers
Investing in Volunteers (IiV) is the UK quality standard for all organisations which involve volunteers in their work. IiV is owned by the UK Volunteering Forum, which consists of the chief executives of the National Volunteering Development Agencies.
In October 2014, National Galleries Scotland became the first national arts organisation to achieve Investing in Volunteers.