Volunteering

Thank you for your interest in volunteering for the Smithsonian Institution at our National Museum of the American Indian. Volunteers have provided an important means of support for the Smithsonian Institution since its establishment in 1846. Dedicated to the "increase and diffusion of knowledge," the Smithsonian is the world's largest museum complex with research facilities in the United States and abroad. The NMAI, with locations on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and New York City, is an important center for research committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native Cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present, and future—through partnership with Native people and others. The museum works to support the continuance of culture, traditional values, and transitions in contemporary Native life.

Qualified volunteers are patient, compassionate, effective communicators, interested in Native American art and cultures, and enthusiastic about learning and teaching. Flexibility, good judgment, and the ability to work independently as well as within groups are additional skills for successful candidates. Applicants must be available on regular weekdays or on weekends and able to commit to the program. We provide all the necessary training to make you successful.

Opportunities for participation

INTERPRETIVE SERVICES

imagiNATIONS Activity Center (DC):  Kids, kids, and more kids! If you have always wanted to interact with younger audiences and families, you have come to the right spot. Opportunities include maintenance and clean-up, helping prepare hands-on activities, and greeting visitors.

Welcome Desk (DC & NY): “Working the desk” is a wonderful way to meet and greet visitors. Welcome Desk volunteers answer visitors’ many questions, direct visitors to destinations in and outside the NMAI and, in general, help set the “tone” for museum visits.

Museum Ambassadors (NY): Join a team of enthusiastic Ambassadors who give tours of the museum’s short- and long-term exhibitions after conducting extensive research and completing the necessary training.

PUBLIC PROGRAMS

Performing Arts, Demonstrations, Thematic Festivals, Film & Video (DC & NY): Opportunities in Public Programs vary, but may include greeting the public, passing out programs and other literature, staffing an information table, assisting backstage, and/or helping with set-up and breakdown. Some events take place in the evening or on weekends.

For special screenings at the NMAI–DC, volunteers help by handing out programs and evaluation forms and counting attendees. During Dinner and A Movie programs, volunteers collect tickets and track reservations and participants, hand out programs, and greet the audience. Volunteers may also manage an email sign-up sheet or hand out membership information, as well as collect evaluation forms.

Seminar & Symposia Programs (DC & NY): Intrigued by the great themes of American Indian Knowledge, American Indian Expression, Contact, and American Indian Origins? Seminar & Symposia programs provide a public forum for engagement with these and other vital historical and contemporary topics of concern and interest to Native peoples and the general public. Volunteers for these programs assist with participant logistics, setting up, and ushering, including handing out programs, assisting the audience, and answering questions. The ability to speak Spanish is helpful for some programs.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES

Safety Operations Volunteer (DC): Safety volunteers are responsible for color-coding documents and providing graphic design support for safety posting and signage and hazardous warning labels. Volunteers may also detail spreadsheets and reformat documents.

GET INVOLVED

To volunteer at the NMAI–DC, contact nmai-dc-volunteer@si.edu.
To volunteer at the NMAI–NY, contact nmai-ny@si.edu.

To view volunteer opportunities across the Smithsonian, visit "Volunteer with the Smithsonian".