Are you looking for ways to make worthwhile contributions to your city and pass along its wonderful history to others? The New Bedford Whaling Museum needs volunteers. Donating your time, interest, and energy can help the Museum in diverse ways to advance understanding of the whaling industry and the unique history of New Bedford. 

Whaling Museum volunteers positively impact the lives of  thousands of people every year, making a significant contribution to our ability to pursue the Museum’s mission. And they have fun doing it! For information, please contact Robert Rocha at (508) 717-6849 or rrocha@whalingmuseum.org.


Volunteer Opportunities

  • Docent (group tour leader and gallery interpreter)
  • Research Library (cataloguing, transcribing, indexing, and researching our vast collection of whaling logbooks, charts, journals, letters, and photographs)
  • Green Team (care for our live plants)
  • Apprentice Mentor (provide guidance for our apprentices as they navigate high school and continue onto college)

As a volunteer we ask you to

  • Participate in a prescribed training program
  • Establish a regular schedule for participating as a docent, or in the museum’s library, archives, or by helping in other ways
  • Become a member of the New Bedford Whaling Museum
  • Serve as a “goodwill ambassador” for the Museum
  • Enjoy yourself!

The Museum will provide

  • An opportunity for public service
  • A professional orientation and training program
  • An opportunity to meet new and interesting people
  • A chance to promote the history of New Bedford 

Apply to be a Volunteer


We seek to build an inclusive workforce and environment. We welcome and support people of all races, ethnicity, cultures and religions and seek to foster teamwork and effective partnerships among our staff. The talent, energy and skills of volunteers enable the Museum to serve all domains of the general public, including children, families, adults, and specialists. The museum receives many volunteer applications from interested, qualified individuals. This can make placing a volunteer opening suited to the wishes of prospective volunteers. To maximize the potential for a good fit between volunteer and prospective positions, you should indicate your areas(s) of interest on the application.

Basic Requirements 

  • Volunteers are required to undergo a background check, including a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) request.
  • Volunteers are asked to commit to a minimum of three years of service, working one shift of three to four hours per week.
  • Volunteers are required to become NBWM members. This is important because members receive regular program information that is necessary to volunteers.
  • Volunteers are responsible for attending the orientation and training sessions related to their volunteer committee or department as well as a brief orientation with Human Resources.
  • Most volunteer positions require you to be available during regular Museum hours, however some positions may require weekend hours and evening hours for special events.
  • A warm, professional demeanor and knowledge of Museum programs are important particularly in positions where interaction with the Museum guest will likely occur.


Why do you enjoy being a Volunteer at the Whaling Museum?

Testimonials from our Volunteers

“I love working at the Whaling Museum and appreciate the opportunities and experiences that have been afforded me over the past 14 years of serving as a docent. Not only have I gotten to meet and interact with fascinating people from all over the world, but have formed close friendships with other volunteers whose interests and mine are both similar and widely diverse. The  museum training we get in science, art, and local history is thorough and comprehensive and helps to keep one’s mind sharp and  active. In addition, the perks are many, including special invitations to gallery openings, lectures and art exhibits.” – Susan G.

“Volunteering at the Museum is all I hoped it would be… I love working in a well-run, dynamic organization with interesting and friendly colleagues. The Museum challenges me to learn, and allows me to indulge my love for teaching and acting.” – David B.

“Watching the faces of the young children as they see the whale skeletons for the first time and to see their eyes widen in amazement is such a joy! And to be able to give them information that they can relate to and understand is so very rewarding.” – Maureen M.

“It is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had since retiring from teaching. Being new to the area, this opportunity has given me a wonderful perspective on the South Coast and the rich history of this part of the state. The volunteer work is very rewarding and it’s also a learning experience. Each time I volunteer, I learn something new or interesting from the other docents, volunteers, staff, and the wonderful visitors to our museum. I have also made some great new friends. I would highly recommend volunteering for the museum.” – Louisa M.

“When I signed up to be a volunteer,  little did I know how it was going to broaden my lifestyle. The museum has been an extended family for me. Not only have I learned so much about our history, but found that giving tours, especially to the children, has been so gratifying.  It really has been one of the best decisions I have made.” – Sylvia M.


Volunteer Training Course Suggested Reading List (pdf)
Suggested Reading List for Teachers, Grades k-8 (pdf)

Volunteer sign in at home

Last modified: June 19, 2018