Docents are at the front-line of our mission. Quite literally, you are likely to be the first and last person visitors will interact with in the museum, and you may help shape their experience substantially beyond the capacity of exhibits and written information.
Our museum is open for primarily self-guided tours where visitors can wonder and ponder. Some behind-the-scenes guided tours may be offered periodically, but the bread and butter of your role is to interact with visitors roaming as they wish.
Responsibilities most often include but are not limited to:
- Greeting guests from the front desk and making them feel welcome.
- Answering the most common questions (“Where is the bathroom?” “Where’s a good place to get a good bite to eat?”)
- Taking payments for admission and/or honoring discounts
- Suggesting where to begin, or pointing out some things that may be particularly interesting
- Encouraging children to try our special learning activities such as scavenger hunts
- Checking answer sheets and awarding prizes to the successful young learners
- Assisting with field trips or large group visits
- Monitoring for visitor safety and also the exhibit care
- Answering questions about local, regional, or even larger history
- Suggesting other sites, resources, or books visitors may find interesting
- Letting guests know about upcoming events if applicable
A few extra options:
- (Optional) Some volunteers may wish to research select topics and write/create social media or website posts for the museum.
- (Optional) Some volunteers may wish to take part in tabled events at festivals, conferences, etc. on behalf of the museum.
- (Optional) Some volunteers may wish to accompany us on guided hikes and other programs to provide assistance.
Training: We do not expect you to know everything about WNC history, interpretation, point of sale systems, etc. We will also never leave you unaccompanied without staff present. But we are happy to provide resources, training, and chances to learn new skills and content.
Training and Resources include:
- Staff members will give you behind-the-scenes tours of the museum and grounds to orient you.
- Staff will discuss existing exhibits with you and provide information about any new exhibits or changes to existing ones.
- A suggested bibliography or reading list of books, articles, primary sources, and websites will be made available to you. Many of these are available here at the museum and almost all are available through public libraries or internet archives.
- A substantial library of books (non-fiction and fictional) relating to WNC history are available for you to use and learn from. We want you to feel encouraged to read and research while not assisting visitors, if you are interested.
- Staff members will train you to use point of sale systems and conduct monetary transactions.
- If interested in learning more about specialized skills or concepts (social media, archival research, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), interpretation, artifact care, etc.) staff members can offer informal lessons.
- If interested in assisting outdoor programs, you can also request to take Wilderness First Aid/CPR and be reimbursed.
- Free museum access for yourself and guests
- Free access to most programs (some yearly events are specifically fundraisers)
- Group field trips to other historic sites/archives
- Volunteer appreciation events
- Early looks at new exhibits
We do not expect you to spend your whole day or week in the museum. We value your time and are grateful for it! We ask for 2-3 hours per week but can certainly accommodate more or fewer hours. We will work to create a recurring volunteer schedule to ensure museum coverage but also fit everyone’s schedule.
- Our anticipated hours of operation are Wed-Saturday, 11am-5pm.
- Typical timeslots may look like: 10am-1pm/ 12pm-3pm/ 2pm-5pm
- Some in-person events may take place during the week, usually from 6-7pm. We do not expect volunteers to be present, but are grateful if you are willing to assist!
Questions and Contact:
Please feel free to reach out anytime with questions. One staff member will always handle volunteer coordination.
The current contact is Trevor Freeman, AMoH public programs director.