Love History?
Then the John Brown House Museum may be looking for you!
Contact jbh@rihs.org to learn about available volunteer opportunities.

Volunteer description:

John Brown House Museum volunteers help to fill a variety of roles and functions that are essential to the daily operations of the museum. Volunteering for the John Brown House Museum can include giving tours, guiding visitors around the museum, and assisting with events and programs held on our property. All of our volunteers are expected to follow all of the Rhode Island Historical Society’s policies and adhere to our overall mission statement:

“As an important cultural institution in Rhode Island, we use materials and knowledge of the past to explore topics of timeless relevance and current public interest and benefit. Inside and outside of the walls of our buildings, the RIHS encourages broad engagement in the diversity of experiences we offer. We develop and deploy our collections, knowledge, connections, and expertise to build relationships between individuals, organizations, and communities to enhance understanding and empathy, and to engender a pride of place.”

To be and remain an Active Volunteer at the museum, which includes access to special outings and other benefits, you must volunteer at least 15 hours a year inside the museum. All volunteers are expected to represent both the museum and the RIHS in a positive light and be helpful to all visitors.

Types of volunteers:

1.      Docents: Docents give formal guided tours of the museum to the general public, special populations, private groups, and school groups. These volunteers are required to do the most training to be able to serve in this capacity. They are the ambassadors for the John Brown House Museum.

2.      Gallery Attendants: Gallery Attendants assist visitors that are on audio tour or touring the house without a Docent. These volunteers are also our eyes and ears in the house and ensure the care and safety of our collections while we are open to the public. These also answer general questions, guide visitors to the restrooms and gift shop area when needed. This is a great way for people with full time jobs or other commitments to stay involved and volunteer their time.

3.      Event Volunteers: These at-large volunteers can offer assistance with any special or regular event or program happening at JBHM that do not require a guided tour. This could include Netop Nights, Mornings at the Museum, What Cheer Day, and Smithsonian Day. This is a great role for a volunteer who does not have a lot of time available but would still like to be involved.

Basic requirements for all JBHM volunteers:


  • Take a guided or audio tour (which is free for new/interested volunteers)
  • Fill out an application & submit a resume
  • Pass a BCI and submit it to JBHM
  • Complete an Emergency Contact form
  • Make sure JBHM has up to date contact information for you
  • Sign in and out of the Volunteer Hours Binder
  • Complete any required training before your first shift as a volunteer
  • Arrive on time for all shifts
  • Notify JBHM staff if you are not able to make a shift in a timely manner
  • Be willing to assist staff members as necessary
  • Be courteous to all RIHS staff, volunteers, visitors, guests, and our community partners
  • Adhere to safety procedures and ensuring the protection of collections
  • Serve as an ambassador for the Rhode Island Historical Society
  • Provide accurate information about the museum and RI history to visitors

Benefits of volunteering at JBHM:

  • Free RIHS membership for volunteers who give 25 hours or more of their time a year to the museum
  • Fun social gatherings and outings for active volunteers
  • Free continuing education and professional development
  • Behind the scenes access
  • Assist a non-profit and enrich your local community
  • Create free access to field trips for school children
  • Get to share and discuss history all day