A volunteer docent
The Barnes Foundation

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering at the Barnes provides unique access to the collections, programs, and staff, as well as opportunities to enjoy camaraderie with fellow art, horticulture, and education enthusiasts. The Barnes has different types of volunteer positions with varied levels of training, time commitments, and background requirements.

The Barnes is now accepting applications for a range of volunteers supporting the following departments in our Philadelphia location:

  • Administration
  • Archives, Libraries, and Special Collections
  • Communications
  • Development / Membership
  • Education
  • Family Programs
  • Publications
  • Public Programs
  • Visitor Services

Volunteer qualifications:

  • Communicate actively and well
  • Be flexible and adapt to changes
  • Be able to to work in a dynamic environment with visitors of all ages and abilities and Barnes staff and volunteers from diverse backgrounds
  • Be well prepared, dependable, and punctual

Volunteer obligations:

  • Complete the training program
  • Adhere to all Barnes Foundation volunteer guidelines
  • Have a valid e-mail address and reliable access to the internet
  • Complete a background check

To Apply, please respond to questions and upload your resume and the contact information for two professional references from institutions where you served as a volunteer or employee. Should you be selected for the next step in the process, you will be contacted by the volunteer manager.

The Barnes Foundation does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, age, citizenship, veteran status, pregnancy or any other protected class in selecting individuals to volunteer in our programs. We are a Drug-Free Workplace.

Note: Arboretum, School Group Guides, and Docent volunteers have a separate application process. Please read the program descriptions and requirements below before submitting an application.

Apply online.

School Group Guides

School Group Guides deliver and facilitate lessons for students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade in the galleries of the Barnes Foundation. The ideal guide has experience implementing programs in museum settings or  teaching in pre-K–12 classrooms, though experience is not required. Must be able to lead a minimum of four pre-K–12 programs each month during the academic year and commit to at least two years of service as a School Group Guide.

School Group Guide applications are typically accepted in the spring and summer for training beginning in the fall. Apply online.

Arboretum volunteers

The only qualification for arboretum volunteers is an interest in gardening. Get your hands dirty while weeding, mulching, and pruning, or help with our annual plant sale. This is a great opportunity to learn new skills or hone the ones you have, and to work with rare and beautiful plants. Arboretum volunteers can work year-round, Tuesdays through Thursdays between 8 am and 4 pm.

Apply online.

Garden Guides

Garden Guides give tours and provide interpretation of the living collections for visitors to the Barnes Arboretum. Successful completion of the Barnes Horticulture Education program is preferred but not required. After successful completion of guide training, Garden Guides must commit to leading tours for two years and attend monthly continuing education meetings.  

Apply online.


Docents serve the needs and interests of our visitors, creating welcoming and informative educational experiences in our galleries. 

Docent applicants undergo extensive, rigorous training to learn the highest standards of content and presentation. Those wishing to volunteer should be comfortable working and communicating with the public. Docent applicants attend the Foundation's Art and Aesthetics courses and undergo six months of training to learn the highest standards of content and presentation. Training is held on Tuesdays.

How to Apply

Applicants interested in applying for the docent training program must have successfully completed or be enrolled in prerequisite courses at the Barnes Foundation:

  • Successful completion of Elements of Art class (1 semester course)
  • Be enrolled in or completed Traditions (1 semester course)
  • Be enrolled or completed a materials and techniques short course
  • Be enrolled or completed 2 Art History/ art in context short courses

Once accepted, the obligations of a Barnes docent (in addition to the general volunteer obligations listed at the top of this page) are:

  • Successful completion of the docent training program
  • Commitment to providing at least 60 hours of volunteer service per year, for at least three years
  • Availability during a combination of weekday, weekend, and evening hours
  • Adherence to all guidelines in the Barnes Foundation docent handbook

Docent applications are typically accepted from June - September. For more information, e-mail the Volunteer and Gallery Guide Manager: pbirmingham@barnesfoundation.org.

Apply online.


If you have questions about the Barnes's volunteer opportunities, call 215.278.7216.

Core Values

Discover what makes the Barnes Foundation a unique place to work and volunteer.