Volunteer

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Over 250 volunteers annually give almost 9,000 hours of service to The Buffalo History Museum. The Museum offers general orientation programs for all volunteers and specific sessions for each department's areas of concern.

Volunteers serve as docent tour guides, and can assist in the library, or with collections inventory. They can also perform a variety of office duties. Projects that need volunteers include garden upkeep, children's activities, special events such as Party on the Portico and Paint the Town, and the occasional construction project. Whatever your interest, we’ve got a (volunteer) job for you! 
 
If you would like to learn more about history while performing an important community service as a docent or helping hands at a program event, please call (716) 873-9644 ext. 323 or email volunteer@buffalohistory.org .

Click here for a volunteer application

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Volunteer Descriptions

Education - Docent

Description: Docents are the difference between a good visitor experience and a great one! Docents at The Buffalo History Museum are specially trained volunteer educators who lead tours of our exhibits to guests of all ages. Docents act as museum ambassadors; they provide memorable experiences by sharing stories and facilitating hands-on activities with kids. We also offer ‘roaming docent’ hours to engage with guests who come without a scheduled tour.

Qualifications: Good public speaking skills, enjoy talking with and listening to people, and sharing information in a pleasant and accurate manner. A love of history! Full training and scripts are provided.

Requirements: A flexible schedule, the ability to lift up to ten pounds, and stand on your feet for up to 3 hours. Scheduling is flexible and shifts vary. Additionally, all volunteers are asked to attend an orientation session before beginning.

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Education - Child Engagement Assistant

Description: We love making history hands-on for our youngest guests and child engagement assistants help make that possible. Whether its running a pop-up crafts table or working with homeschool students on individual projects, education volunteers provide memorable experience to the families visiting The Buffalo History Museum.

Qualifications: Experience working with children, patience, and the ability to be crafty! Excellent communication skills, especially with the little ones, and a positive attitude. Some training is provided.

Requirements: A flexible schedule, the ability to lift up to ten pounds, and stand on your feet for up to 3 hours. Scheduling is flexible and shifts vary. Additionally, all volunteers are asked to attend an orientation session before beginning.

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Research and Archival Library

Description: You never know what treasures are tucked away in our Research Library, but our library volunteers have the opportunity to assist in safekeeping all sorts of interesting pieces of our two-dimensional collection. Volunteers work on archiving, cataloging, digital preservation, and indexing pieces of the collection to make them accessible to researchers. Additionally, volunteers help with incoming library inquiries and look-up requests.

Qualifications: Positions in the Research Library require attention to detail, a love of order and organization, and familiarity with data entry programs. Experience working in a library or archival setting or MLS preferred and experience with MARC cataloguing highly desirable.

Requirements: Availability on Thursday and/or Friday mornings and regular attendance. Additionally, all volunteers are asked to attend an orientation session before beginning.

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Guest Services

Description: Providing high quality guest experiences is a priority for us, and as the first stop for incoming guests, Guest Services volunteers play a vital role. Whether its greeting guests, collecting zip codes, or answering questions about events and exhibits, Guest Services volunteers are always creating a warm and welcoming environment for museum guests. Volunteers also provide support for the museum shop by answering questions and maintaining shop displays.

Qualifications: Good public speaking skills, enjoy talking with and listening to people, and sharing information in an accurate and pleasant manner. Experience with data entry and customer service. Full training is provided.

Requirements: A flexible schedule, some evening or weekend availability, and the ability to lift up to ten pounds. Additionally, all volunteers are asked to attend an orientation session before beginning.

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Exhibits - Exhibit Maintenance

Description: Exhibit volunteers assist with exhibit maintenance. Volunteers ensure exhibits are maintained, stocked, and working properly.

Qualifications: Experience working on museum exhibits or a background in painting, construction, or building. Carpentry experience highly sought after.

Requirements: A flexible schedule, the ability to lift up to thirty pounds, and to stand on your feet for up to three hours. Additionally, all volunteers are asked to attend an orientation session before beginning.

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Exhibits - Rail Barons

Description: One of our most exciting and interactive exhibits is our model train room and the maintenance and upkeep of that exhibit is managed by a dedicated group of volunteers called the Rail Barons. The Rail Barons ensure the trains are running properly, the village is looking its very best, and that the exhibit space is inviting.

Qualifications: A love of trains, the railroad, and model making. Familiarity with model trains and model villages highly desirable. 

Requirements: A flexible schedule and the ability to attend Tuesday morning meetings. Additionally, all volunteers are asked to attend an orientation session before beginning.

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Collections

Description: While the exhibits in the museum are exceptional, they constitute only a fraction of our total collection. Collections volunteers are invited behind the scenes to provide assistance with the safe keeping of the museum’s three-dimensional collections. Volunteers work closely with the collections team to ensure artifacts are correctly catalogued and properly housed. Additionally, volunteers provide assistance in the specific areas mentioned below.

Cataloguer: Process new and incoming artifacts; comprises all parts of cataloging including all hardcopy worksheets, digital photography, data entry and use of the PastPerfect database, research, numbering artifacts and re-housing for long-term storage.

Inventory Processor: Update pre-existing artifact work; may include any component of the regular artifact cataloging procedure such as hardcopy worksheets, digital photography, data entry and use of the PastPerfect database, research, numbering artifacts and re-housing for long-term storage. Will vary depending on artifact.

Researcher: Length of projects will vary. Project may relate to an artifact in The Buffalo History Museum’s collection or a potential or incoming donation to the museum. This position requires analytical skills, the ability to conduct research using primary and secondary sources and working between departments.

Box Maker: Create custom boxes pertaining to the needs of specific artifacts.  Ideal volunteer for the position thinks creatively and is comfortable working with a variety of material and tools (hot knife, cardboard cutter, oversized sheets of cardboard etc.) to create ideal housing for long-term care of artifacts. This position will require training in artifact handling.

Qualifications: Volunteer should be attentive and analytical. Experience with digital photography and cameras is a plus. All positions require some level of training that will be provided by staff within the Collections Department. All volunteers will be trained on the collection management software, PastPerfect, and object handling. Experience or education in collections’ registration methods highly sought after.

Requirements: A flexible schedule, the ability to commit to the time required to see project to completion, access to reliable transportation, and the ability to lift over 30 lbs. Additionally, all collections volunteers are required to attend training on object handling, collections management software, and other technical aspects of the department as well as a volunteer orientation.

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Special Events

Description: Special events volunteers provide assistance in various capacities at our programs and special events. Depending on the event, volunteers may be working with Guest Services, providing sales support, serving refreshments, bar tending, directing parking, registering guests, or setting up and breaking down. Details about special events positions are provided when positions are assigned.

Qualifications: Welcoming, friendly, and people oriented. Additionally, volunteers should be knowledgeable of facilities and able to give directions to restrooms, coatroom, exhibits, etc.

Requirements: A flexible schedule with weekend and evening availability. Volunteers should be able to stand or sit for several hours, and able to carry light objects to assigned stations. Volunteers should be willing to accept any assigned job unless a medical condition prohibits certain functions. All volunteers are asked to attend an orientation session before beginning.