Volunteer Explainer

Title: Volunteer Explainer
Department: Group Sales/ Visitor Services
Reports To: Group Sales and Docent Manager

Volunteer Explainers are integral to New-York Historical’s mission to share stories of New York and American history with museum visitors and serve as some of the institution’s most visible ambassadors to the public. Explainers engage with general admission visitors and lead daily pop-up tours. Through object interpretation, Explainers help visitors engage with and understand the importance of historical artifacts, and expose them to the work of curators and researchers in our Museum and Library.

The Explainer is the first step to becoming a Docent at the New-York Historical Society.


  • Bachelor’s degree, preferably in one of the following areas: history, art history, American studies, or education. Higher degrees in this area are a plus.
  • Computer literacy required
  • Research skills a plus


  • Demonstrated ability and/or interest to communicate with diverse audiences, including individuals and groups, on the subject of history and art.
  • Excellent customer service and communication skills, including ability to present information effectively in one-on-one and group settings and facilitate positive dialogue with audience.
  • Experience learning about Permanent Museum Collections, as well as Ongoing and Special Exhibitions, and expertise in synthesizing information for abbreviated public tours.

Essential Duties

  • Provide orientation and introduction to New-York Historical Society and The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture. Be conversant in the mission, exhibitions, programs and related content of New-York Historical Society.
  • Conduct research on the permanent collection and new exhibitions (as directed by Museum staff) and interpret scholarly materials.
  • Answer general visitor questions relating to permanent collection objects on view and not on view, current and upcoming Museum exhibitions and the Center for the Study of Women’s History.
  • Lead short, impromptu, “pop-up” gallery tours that are in accordance with Museum tour standards.
  • Work effectively and collegially as part of larger team and in service of team and institutional goals.
  • Availability on select evenings and mornings (outside of general Museum hours) for Special Events.
  • Commitment to promoting the philosophy and mission of New-York Historical Society.
  • Additional duties as requested.

Time Commitment
Explainers are expected to be available for 3 two-hour assignments each month and a 1 year commitment is required.

Orientation will be offered for all new volunteers. Attendance to trainings for the new The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture’s permanent collection and rotating exhibitions, as well as other exhibitions is required.  Trainings are led by qualified specialists and Curators. Research and training materials will be provided by Museum staff. 

Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture
The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture on the fourth floor is a destination for historical education and innovation, with a Tiffany Gallery, Center for the Study of Women’s History, and a reimagined permanent collection display. The Tiffany Gallery is a sparkling glass showcase for the museum’s renowned Tiffany lamp collection, which is among the world’s best in range and quality, designed by architect Eva Jiřičná in her first major New York project. The re-imagined display of collection highlights in the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture significantly increases public access and engagement with New-York Historical’s holdings.

The Center for the Study of Women’s History
The Center for the Study of Women’s History is the first of its kind in a U.S. museum to study women’s history on a permanent basis, presenting special exhibitions, and public and scholarly programs.

Able to stand for extended periods of time.

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by the volunteer with or without accommodation, to successfully perform the essential functions. 

HOW TO APPLY:   For consideration please send a cover letter and resume to: volunteers.info@nyhistory.org    

Please reference Explainer Volunteer in the subject line.  

Creative: Tronvig Group