Do you have a passion for early American history, the decorative arts, architecture, or museums in general? Dumbarton House, a Federal period house museum in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood recruits dedicated volunteers to “bring history to life” in a variety of roles. Dumbarton House, headquarters of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America, offers volunteers an opportunity to increase their knowledge of early American history, life in Washington during the early days of the Republic (circa 1800) and Federal period decorative arts and architecture, which they then share with museum visitors.
Currently, Dumbarton House is not actively recruiting volunteers as we will be temporary closed from November 2016-April 2017 for HVAC renovations. Please check here for updated information as we prepare to reopen in the spring.
For questions or to learn more, please contact Education@DumbartonHouse.org or 202-337-2288 x222.
DOCENTS: Dumbarton House recruits volunteers to help share the history of the house and its collection with the general public. Docents greet visitors and lead them on tours. Trained in the social history of the early 19th century and the decorative arts fashionable at the time, Docents are a vital link between the history of the house and its visitors. Docents are expected to commit themselves to two weekdays (Tuesday-Friday) or one day on the weekend each month in four-hour shifts. Extensive training is provided for all Docents. Docents may also choose to volunteer to lead group tours or organize public programs.
VISITOR SERVICE VOLUNTEERS: These volunteers are another vital link between the history of Dumbarton House and its visitors. The position is ideal for someone who enjoys history and working with the public, but may not have the time to complete docent training to lead tours. They greet visitors and introduce them to various aspects of life in the Federal period while they wait for their tour to begin. VSVs answer visitor questions about the neighborhood and Dumbarton House, and assist with starting visitors on self-guided tours. VSV’s also collect admission fees and sells gift shop items. Visitor Service Volunteers are expected to commit themselves to a minimum of one four-hour shift each month (Tuesday-Sunday); 10:45am and 3:15pm. Training is provided.
GARDEN VOLUNTEERS: Garden volunteers help maintain Dumbarton House’s formal, period, and herb gardens that were partly created under the guidance of architectural historian Fiske Kimball in 1931. Garden Volunteer commitment may be seasonal and based on garden needs. Training is on-going.
RESEARCHERS: Researchers are needed to work with curatorial and education staff to delve into topics related to the interpretation of Dumbarton House. Possible topics include former occupants of the house, objects in the collection, archival material for preservation, the history of the property, and the social culture of the 19th century. Researchers may be recruited either for the duration of a specific research project or for set days and hours during the week.
COMMITMENT: Volunteers are an integral part of the growing success of Dumbarton House. Volunteering requires a commitment of time, as well as enthusiasm and interest. The time commitment varies from one volunteer opportunity to another, but all volunteers are expected to attend training sessions and commit themselves to a minimum of one year of service.
All Dumbarton House volunteers receive a variety of benefits, including:
- complimentary individual museum membership (includes 10% discount on Gift Shop purchases, invitations to private museum events and programs, discounts on admission to public programs, monthly e-news and Events Calendar, and two guest passes for public tours);
- ongoing enrichment programs featuring lectures and field visits to other sites of interest;
- available off-street parking while volunteering at museum;
- annual social events, including an annual Appreciation Dinner;
- monthly newsletter for museum volunteers and staff; and
- access to the Dumbarton House research library.