Become a Volunteer

Become a Volunteer

Become a Volunteer

The Oriental Institute has an exciting volunteer opportunity for you. Volunteers are an integral part of our team, serving as ambassadors to the public and furthering the mission of the Oriental Institute. Volunteering at the Oriental Institute is a fun way to make a difference in your community by providing a memorable and educational experience for our visitors. Whether you like to share your passion for ancient history with the public, inspire children through hands-on learning, assist with public programs, volunteer in the gift shop, or help with research projects, we are sure to find the perfect fit for you.

We look for commitment, positive energy, flexibility, great people skills, and an enthusiasm for life-long learning. Our volunteers come from all walks of life, many with little to no previous formal education on the subject of the ancient Near East. Volunteers must be 18 years or older to apply.

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Become a Volunteer at the Oriental Institute

Learn about the different volunteer opportunities at the Oriental Institute to find the one that is right for you.

Docent 

Docents are an elite group of individuals who bring the museum to life for our guests by leading groups on tours of the museum.  They are life-long learners, educators, ambassadors and performers who share their passion for history and deliver accurate information. Docents encourage exploration and interpretation of the exhibitions of the Oriental Institute Museum using methods of dialog and inquiry. Docents continually add to their knowledge after completion of the initial training by attending monthly volunteer training days and attending Oriental Institute lectures.  Docents are part of a vibrant and enthusiastic community of volunteers who serve as the public face of the Oriental Institute.

Training

Initial docent training requires candidates to attend an eight week training session.  This training is held one day a week ( on Mondays), from 9 to 4:30, during June and July.  Lectures are presented by world-renowned experts from the University of Chicago, department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.  Pre-readings are assigned each week, as well as written essay assignments and oral presentations.  

Certified docents are highly encouraged to attend the monthly Monday morning volunteer training days and the monthly Wednesday evening Oriental Institute Lecture Series. These training opportunities deepen your knowledge and keep you up-to-date regarding the Oriental Institute research projects and field work. This will help you feel confident in answering visitors’ questions and provide excellent public service.

Requirements

  • Attend the 8-week museum docent training session, complete required reading assignments, written essays and oral presentations.
  • Certified docents must give 13 tours a year.
  • Submit online application.
  • Selected candidates will participate in an on-site interview.
  • Become a member of the Oriental Institute.
  • Email and web access required at home.
  • Have a positive attitude and adhere to the Oriental Institute policies, procedures, and guest-service standards.
  • Complete a background check

Become a Docent

Public Program Volunteer

Public Program Volunteers to help kids and adults explore the exciting (and sometimes silly) world of archaeology and all the art and science that goes with it?  Volunteer for our Public Programs!  Work in collaboration with our Public Education & Outreach Department staff to engage with diverse audiences in a wide variety of activities.  No prior knowledge or experience needed.

We are looking for public program volunteers who want to:

  • Engage with the public – you are our front line, help us make everyone feel welcome
  • Help visitors navigate our galleries and find the activities they want to try
  • Assist in running programs – make crafts, simulate mummification, explore pottery
  • Gain experience working with visitors of all ages and backgrounds
  • Learn about archaeological practices and how they shape our knowledge of history, then share what you’ve learned!

Training

  • Public program volunteers will go through Institutional orientation training session that may include some reading on the history, mission and research of Oriental Institute
  • Volunteers will also be trained on the Discovery Cart – an in-gallery hands-on experience that encourages visitors to think like an archaeologist
  • Other on-site trainings are program dependent

Requirements

  • Minimum of 1 year of service
  • Schedule yourself for 8 shifts a year
  • Volunteers are highly encouraged to attend monthly volunteer days and the Oriental Institute Lecture Series.  These training opportunities keep your knowledge up to date regarding the Oriental Institute Projects and ongoing digs.  This will help you feel confidence in answering visitors’ questions and providing excellent public service.
  • Submit the online application
  • Selected candidates will participate in an on-site interview
  • Become a member of the Oriental Institute
  • Complete a background check

 

Become a Public Program Volunteer

Research Archives Volunteer

Volunteers work on entering and checking data in our integrated data base.  This can include scanning, indexing, cataloging and other data organization.  Work is done on site, weekdays during business hours. This important project is revolutionizing the way students and scholars perform their work and the way the general public learns about the Oriental Institute's fields of study. The Research Archives of the Oriental Institute is a non-circulating collection of books and other publications related to the ancient Near East for the reference and research of Oriental Institute faculty, staff, students, and members. Its materials span the history of the ancient Near East from prehistoric times through the Late Antique period and reflect the interests and work of its users and benefactors. 

Training

A basic familiarity with computer operation is necessary, but all further skills will be provided through on-the-job training with Research Archives staff. Any skills in computer technology, library science, or foreign languages are highly desirable for Research Archives volunteers. For the integrated data base project,volunteers will undergo a 2-4 week supervisory period in which training will be provided for selected tasks with daily supervision of ongoing work. Further expansion of training will take place on an as-needed basis. Volunteers can work as little as 2 hours per week or as much as they prefer; however, a consistent weekly commitment is required for a minimum of six months.

Requirements

  • Basic familiarity with computer operation
  • Minimum 2 hours per week on site, during weekday business hours
  • Minimum of 6 month commitment
  • Submit online application
  • Selected candidates will participate in an on-site interview
  • Become a member of the Oriental Institute
  • Complete a background check

Become a Research Archive Volunteer

Gift Shop Volunteers

Work in the gift shop, assist customers with purchases, operate cash register and process credit card payments. Provide explanation and assistance for audio tours on iPods, and answer general questions. Help with stocking and inventory audits. We look for individuals with excellent people skills, positive attitudes, and are enthusiastic and engaging individulas who serve as Oriental Institute Ambassadors.

 

Training

  • Learn how to work cash register and process credit card payments
  • Volunteers are highly encouraged to attend the monthly business meetings and ongoing docent training. These training opportunities keep your knowledge up-to-date regarding the Oriental Institute projects and ongoing digs. This will help you feel confident in answering visitors’ questions and provide excellent public service.

Requirements

  • Work a three-hour shift weekly or bi-weekly, during museum operating hours.
  • Submit online application.
  • Selected candidates will participate in an on-site interview.
  • Become a member of the Oriental Institute.
  • Email and web access required at home.
  • Have a positive attitude and adhere to the Oriental Institute policies, procedures, and guest-service standards.
  • Complete a background check

 

Become a Gift Shop Volunteer
 

Benefits of Becoming an Oriental Institute Volunteer

  • Enhance your knowledge of the ancient Near East by attending volunteer-only lectures from the Oriental Institute's world-renowned scholars
  • Enjoy volunteer appreciation events, special programs and events
  • Receive preferred rate on non-credit continuing education courses offered through the Oriental Institute Public Education Department
  • Enjoy a discount at The Suq gift shop
  • Attend field trips to other cultural institutions 

For more information or questions regarding volunteering at the Oriental Institute, email oi-volunteers@uchicago.edu