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 work collaboratively with Education Department staff by assisting at a variety of different programs held throughout the year engaging diverse audiences, from children’s activities, family programs, academic symposiums,and other programs. Duties include:

  • Engage with the public — greet people and welcome them at registration and check-in
  • Help with set up and clean up at events, such as setting up chairs, tables, materials, etc.
  • Assist with guiding people to activities
  • Answer questions about the Oriental Institute, its history and research
  • Serve as Ambassadors for the Oriental Institute

Training

  • Complete initial orientation training session to learn about the Oriental Institute’s mission, museum collections, policies, and procedures, and learn best practices for working with the public
  • Complete assigned readings on the Oriental Institute’s history, mission, and research
  • Volunteers are highly encouraged to attend the monthly volunteer days and 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 confident in answering visitors’ questions and provide excellent public service.

Requirements

  • Committment varies based on programs; see descriptions listed upon sign up
  • Participate at eight special programs 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 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