Volunteers are an integral part of our team, serving as ambassadors to the public and furthering the mission of the Institute. Volunteers at ISAC make a difference in our community by providing a memorable and educational experience for our visitors by sharing their passion for ancient history with the public, inspiring children through hands-on learning, assisting with public programs, and helping with research projects.

Current Volunteers log in

Become a Volunteer at the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures

Learn about the different volunteer opportunities at ISAC to find the one that is right for you.

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at ISAC. We value each and every applicant. Currently we are not accepting applications for any volunteer position at this time.


Docents are an elite group of individuals who bring the museum to life for our guests by leading groups on tours of the museum.  They are life-long learners, educators, ambassadors and performers who share their passion for history and deliver accurate information. Docents encourage exploration and interpretation of the exhibitions of the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures Museum using methods of dialog and inquiry. Docents continually add to their knowledge after completion of the initial training by attending monthly volunteer training days and attending ISAC lectures.  Docents are part of a vibrant and enthusiastic community of volunteers who serve as the public face of Institute.


Docents also commit to continuing their education by attending docent training days during the academic year, taking ISAC Adult Education Courses, and/or attending ISAC lectures and gallery talks.


  • Attend the 8-week museum docent training session, complete required reading assignments, written essays and oral presentations.
  • Certified docents must give 13 tours a year.
  • Continuing Education
  • Submit online application.
  • Selected candidates will participate in an on-site interview.
  • Become a member of the Institute.
  • Email and web access required at home.
  • Have a positive attitude and adhere to ISAC policies, procedures, and guest-service standards.
  • Complete a background check

Public Program Volunteer

Public Program Volunteers help kids and adults explore the exciting (and sometimes silly) world of archaeology and all the art and science that goes with it. Public Program Volunteers work in collaboration with our Public Education & Outreach Department staff to engage with diverse audiences in a wide variety of activities. No prior knowledge or experience needed.

We are looking for public program volunteers who want to:

  • Engage with the public – you are our front line, and help make everyone feel welcome
  • Help visitors navigate our galleries and find the activities they want to try
  • Assist in running programs – make crafts, simulate a mummification, explore pottery, or learn an ancient game
  • Gain experience working with visitors of all ages and backgrounds
  • Learn about archaeological practices and how they shape our knowledge of history, then share what you’ve learned!


  • Public program volunteers will go through an orientation training session that includes some history of the Institute, information about our programs, volunteer duties, and techniques for creating a welcoming and inclusive museum environment
  • Volunteers can be trained on the Discovery Cart – an in-gallery hands-on experience
  • Other on-site trainings are program dependent


  • Minimum of 1 year of service
  • Schedule yourself for 8 shifts a year
  • Volunteers are highly encouraged to attend monthly volunteer days and the ISAC Lecture Series.  These training opportunities keep your knowledge up to date regarding the Institute Projects and ongoing digs.  This will help you feel confident in answering visitors’ questions and providing excellent public service.
  • Submit the online application
  • Selected candidates will participate in an on-site interview
  • Become a member of ISAC
  • Complete a background check

Research Archives Volunteer

Volunteers work on entering and checking data in our integrated data base.  This can include scanning, indexing, cataloging and other data organization.  Work is done on site, weekdays during business hours. This important project is revolutionizing the way students and scholars perform their work and the way the general public learns about the Institute's fields of study. The Research Archives of the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures is a non-circulating collection of books and other publications related to the ancient Near East for the reference and research of ISAC faculty, staff, students, and members. Its materials span the history of the ancient Near East from prehistoric times through the Late Antique period and reflect the interests and work of its users and benefactors. 


A basic familiarity with computer operation is necessary, but all further skills will be provided through on-the-job training with Research Archives staff. Any skills in computer technology, library science, or foreign languages are highly desirable for Research Archives volunteers. For the integrated data base project, volunteers will undergo a 2–4 week supervisory period in which training will be provided for selected tasks with daily supervision of ongoing work. Further expansion of training will take place on an as-needed basis. Volunteers can work as little as 2 hours per week or as much as they prefer; however, a consistent weekly commitment is required for a minimum of six months.


  • Basic familiarity with computer operation
  • Minimum 2 hours per week on site, during weekday business hours
  • Minimum of 6 month commitment
  • Submit online application
  • Selected candidates will participate in an on-site interview
  • Become a member of ISAC
  • Complete a background check


Benefits of Becoming an ISAC Volunteer

  • Enhance your knowledge of the ancient Near East by attending volunteer-only lectures from ISAC's world-renowned scholars
  • Enjoy volunteer appreciation events, special programs and events
  • Receive preferred rate on non-credit continuing education courses offered through ISAC's Public Education Department
  • Enjoy a discount at The Suq gift shop
  • Attend field trips to other cultural institutions 

For more information or questions regarding volunteering at ISAC, email isac-volunteers@uchicago.edu