Volunteer at the Burke

Support the Burke’s public and research programs while getting an insider’s view of the Museum.

Do you have a love of natural history, a passion for research and an interest in the world around you? Become a Burke volunteer!

Volunteers are an essential part of the Burke, both in the galleries and behind the scenes. Volunteers assist with research, provide collections maintenance, engage Burke visitors and enhance our mission. Their skills, generosity and passion for the natural world make the Burke a dynamic and exciting center for the community.

In exchange for their generous service, Burke volunteers receive great perks including free museum admission, discounts in the store and café, invitations to exclusive events and annual recognition. In addition, volunteering at the Burke opens the door to a new museum community of fellow volunteers, staff and industry experts who share a similar passion for the natural world. 

Burke volunteers perform a wide variety of tasks and serve various functions in the museum. To help you make an informed and practical decision about your commitment, volunteer opportunities are posted as either ongoing or one-day positions.

  • Ongoing volunteers should be prepared to commit to at least eight (8) hours per month for a minimum six-month period.
  • One-day volunteer positions are also occasionally available for those who have the passion but are unable to make a longer commitment. 

Volunteer opportunities change frequently. See below for a list of current openings.

Questions? Contact the Volunteer Manager at burkevol@uw.edu or 206.543.3989.


Application Instructions

If you’re interested in an available volunteer opportunity, please complete the online volunteer application

One Day + Short Term Opportunities

Volunteer opportunities listed in this section are for single day and short-term commitments. Event/program training is offered by event managers. For more information, email the Volunteer Manager at burkevol@uw.edu.

Native Art Market Volunteers

Each year, the Burke Museum hosts the Native Art Market, a celebration of Native art where visitors can purchase original art directly from artists, watch art demonstrations and talk to more than a dozen emerging and established Native American artists about their work and process. The artists are experts in mediums such as woodcarving, basketry, jewelry, graphic design, metalwork and forging. Volunteers are needed to support this event on May 13 in the following roles:

  • Event Set-Up Volunteers: If you’re a person who likes to create order out of chaos, this is the job for you! Event Set-Up Volunteers will help with the load in and set up of collections tables, signage, and education activities. Working under the supervision of the Public Programs Manager, these volunteers will help prepare us for the 700-4,000 visitors that will come to the event. Please note: Shifts are held the day prior to the day of the event.
  • Vendor Load-In Assistants: Assist Native artists as they prepare their areas for the event! Volunteers will help unload materials and art, then work with Burke staff to ensure the event kicks off with a smooth start!
  • Event Assistants: Volunteers needed to assist with house management and line control for the Git Hoan Dancers (People of the Salmon), a Tsimshian Performance Group. 
Summer Camp Volunteers

Help inspire kids to be lifelong scientists! We need kind, energetic, kid-loving volunteers to make the museum come alive for young learners. Set an example for tomorrow’s scientists by playing games, making crafts, exploring the galleries, and doing experiments with campers that encourage essential 21st century abilities and skills such as teamwork, close observation & analysis, inquiry, problem solving, communication and creativity. 

Volunteers get to learn too! You’ll work with Burke educators on best practices in informal education, create and practice classroom management techniques, and go behind-the-scenes for a fun, action packed summer experience. Prior experience working with youth and background check required. Shifts are Monday through Friday, 8:45 am – 1 pm and 1 – 4:30 pm. Volunteers able to serve two or more shifts during a single camp are given priority. Additional details on our camps can be found here.

Ongoing Opportunities

The volunteer opportunities listed here are for long-term or ongoing appointments and require an additional interview process with the appropriate department supervisor. For more information, please contact the Volunteer Manager at burkevol@uw.edu.

Gallery Interpreter

In the Burke’s next exhibit, Testing, Testing 1-2-3, we're auditioning ideas for the New Burke. We're building visible labs to give visitors a sneak peek at behind-the-scenes work—like preparing bird specimens and fossils, or getting objects ready for a move—that will be highlighted in the new museum. The Burke is now recruiting volunteers to help us prepare for this fundamentally new way of engaging with our visitors, our collections and our physical work areas. Gallery Interpreters will work alongside staff and other volunteers to bring the exhibit to life while engaging visitors with the day-to-day activities that happen in a museum and gathering evaluative data. It's real people, real work, and real fun! Gallery Interpreters should be prepared to commit to at least two 2.5 - 3.5 hour shifts per month on Saturdays, Sundays and Free First Thursdays from June 2017 through February 2018. Ongoing safety, content and engagement training will be provided. 

Gallery Fun!

The Burke provides extraordinary opportunities for volunteers to engage with their community through public museum events and gallery experiences. Gallery Fun volunteers support the Burke’s mission by directly engaging visitors of all ages, helping them to make fun easy-to-assemble crafts. You supply the enthusiasm; the Burke supplies the on-site craft materials and assembly instructions! Volunteer opportunities are available on Free First Thursdays and weekends. Volunteers are asked to commit to at least two 3-hour shifts per month. 

Paleobotany Collections Volunteer

Volunteers are needed to assist the paleobotany department with cataloguing, photographing and preparing the Burke’s collection of plant micro- and macrofossils. These volunteers will work alongside the collection’s first faculty curator to digitize and organize specimens, providing greater access for students, researchers and the community.

Collections volunteers should be meticulous and organized, with acute attention to detail. Some knowledge of geology or botany and an interest in photography is preferred. This position requires a commitment of 3+ hours per week for at least six months and is contingent on the successful completion of a background check and department interview. The paleobotany collection is open between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday. To apply, please email burkevol@uw.edu by April 7 with a brief statement of interest.

Arachnology Field Assistant

Ever wondered how scientists collect specimens and data in the field? The Arachnology Field Assistant will help collect and preserve spider specimens and drive to and from the collection site. Specimen collections are weather-dependent, all-day affairs and can take place any time except mid-August through September. Applicants must be over 18 years of age with a valid license, clean driving record access to a vehicle (UW affiliates may use a UCAR). A flexible schedule is a must. Volunteers will be reimbursed for gas mileage. Find out more about spider collecting trips

kids of mixed ages stand transfixed while a uw student talks with them about the ice age

Make a difference, gain new skills and earn credits volunteering in the galleries and behind the scenes.
Photo: Burke Museum

volunteer wearing special glasses helps prepare a dinosaur bone

Get up-close with one-of-a-kind specimens, objects and artifacts.
Photo: Burke Museum

volunteer helps two young kids search for archaeology artifacts in a bin of dirt

Lend your enthusiasm for the Burke to special events, fundraising events and family days, such as Dino Day.
Photo: Lora Shinn

volunteer helps check guests in for the museum's annual fundraiser

Photo: Seattle Met

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