Volunteering

Volunteering

Are you interested in archives, libraries or museums, in research, running events, or caring for historic collections?

Do you want to gain skills, meet people, and get experience working in a small but active heritage team?

Read on to find out about volunteering with the RCP archive, heritage library and museum services team.

 

Events volunteering


The events volunteer team supports the museum’s public programme ‘front of house’ at events including talks, exhibition launches, Lates and special events. The programme is designed for the museum’s diverse audiences, covering history, art, architecture and the medicinal garden. The RCP also takes part in annual events including Open House London and the London Festival of Architecture.

We welcome friendly and enthusiastic people to the events volunteer team on a rolling basis. Previous experience is not necessary, and no specific knowledge is required, although a passion for history, museums or medicine is encouraged. Training will be offered to all new volunteers to familiarise them with the RCP building and museum collections. 

What you will be doing:

  • welcoming and registering guests at museum events
  • providing information about the museum collections and the public events programme
  • invigilating the exhibition and museum spaces to ensure the safety of collections on display
  • selling merchandise
  • assisting with Q&A sessions at events
  • distributing audience feedback forms.

The role includes volunteering at evening and occasional weekend events, all at the RCP’s main HQ in Regent’s Park, London. Successful applicants are expected to volunteer at one event per month, for a minimum of 3 months.

If you are interested in becoming an event volunteer with us, please email history@rcp.ac.uk

What we offer to our volunteers

  • training in the activities you will be doing 
  • training opportunities in other relevant areas
  • free refreshments while volunteering
  • on-site use of the RCP libraries
  • free tickets for RCP events
  • opportunity to attend AMS (Archive and Museum Services) department external visits and training
  • CV advice and support.

Volunteer with the AMS team  


We welcome enquiries about volunteering from people interested in all areas of library, archive and museum work. We can help you tailor your volunteering to suit your needs and to help us to do valuable work.

We work with volunteers who:

  • are planning to study for a qualification in a related area
  • are considering a career in archives, libraries or museums
  • are interested in medicine, history, or other areas covered by our collections
  • wish to gain particular skills

Our volunteers work on activities including:

  • cataloguing
  • collections care
  • marketing and promotion
  • writing exhibition labels
  • research
  • carrying out oral history interviews

We particularly welcome enquiries from those considering a career or postgraduate qualification in archives and records management or in museum or heritage studies (no experience necessary). If you are interested in volunteering, please email history@rcp.ac.uk. Please be aware that due to limited staff resources, we are not always in a position to take on additional volunteers.

 

‘I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the RCP. Along with meeting a wonderful a team of people, I was also able to discover the many treasures the RCP has to offer. Through this, I developed new skills in both the museum and archive departments, gaining valuable experience that helped me get a job after my MA. ‘
- Martha Biggins, MA candidate, London

Volunteer cataloguing an oil lamp from the RCP’s old home at Pall Mall East
Cataloguing an oil lamp from the RCP’s old home at Pall Mall East
Volunteer condition checking an object from the Symons collection
Condition checking an object from the Symons collection
Volunteers photographing collections items
Photographing collections items

Work placements


The team hosts volunteers on placement as part of university courses in related areas. Placement students will work with a member of staff who has expertise in their area of study, usually the rare books and special collections librarian, the assistant archivist, or the museum collections officer.

If you are a course co-ordinator and would like to get in touch about your students doing their placements with us, please contact history@rcp.ac.uk. We also welcome enquiries from individual students.

Short-term ‘work-shadowing’ placements of one or a few days can also sometimes be arranged with the rare books and special collections librarian. 

 ‘I gained great museum work experience at the RCP. I enjoyed working with the RCP team as they are very supportive and friendly. Working at the RCP museum allowed me to quickly establish the relevant experience …[for] the next step in my career.’
- Sang A Kim, art analyst and former museum studies placement student, Seoul

Read more from former placement students

‘The rare books cataloguing experience I gained as a placement student at the RCP provided me with the invaluable opportunity to apply the skills I learned in my library degree and to see first-hand how Katie as a practicing rare books cataloguer approaches provenance research and cataloguing decisions. Now, as a postgraduate student in Art History and the History of the Book, I consistently apply what I learned through working directly with the RCP’s rare books collection to my own research, and will carry this knowledge forward in my future cataloguing work too.’

- Madeleine Ahern, postgraduate student at the University of Toronto and former library studies placement student, London.


‘Working in the RCP was a very pleasurable experience. I would say one of my favourite parts of the placement was chatting with members of the team. Through the placement not only did I gain professional skills, I also discovered new areas of development.’

- Yuewei Wang, department of display art in Shandong Museum and former museum studies placement student, China.


'During my time volunteering I was able to put archival theory into practice. The staff were all extremely helpful and friendly.  There were many opportunities to take part in extra experience such as transcribing recordings and writing a blog. The experience was great for developing my communication skills and in gaining practical experience within an archival environment with the opportunity to develop a collection with independence. It was a brilliant learning experience which has taught me a lot whilst working with interesting collections.'

- Shea Evason, subject access request administrator in local government and former archives and records management placement student, Liverpool


‘I was first drawn to the Royal College of Physicians for their diverse and unique collections. From the beginning, the staff were always welcoming and excited to show the archives and objects to students. I appreciated that there was both a clearly defined project I was tasked with, as well as additional opportunities to assist staff in various projects and duties around the museum site.

Often, I was able to customize my placement duties to better fit my professional goals and the needs of the museum. My time with the RCP allowed me to explore a range of professional interests – collections management, exhibition design, public history writing, and much more. Through the various projects and duties with the RCP, I gained a better understanding of museum practice and additional skills that cannot be learned in a classroom.

After my placement, I brought my newly learned skills and understandings to both my graduate school experience and later my professional career. Duties performed for the RCP such as database management, monitoring a vast museum collection, and writing for a public audience were all brought into my current position in a historic house museum.’

- Zachary Veith, historic interpreter and former museum studies placement student, New York

Email history@rcp.ac.uk for more information about volunteering and placement opportunities. 
Please note: there is no guarantee of paid employment at the RCP following any of the roles mentioned on this page.