Volunteer

Since its founding, the Museum’s mission has been to preserve and interpret the history of the Port of New York. Port activity and sustainability are as pertinent now as they were in the 19th Century, when the Seaport was known for its street of ships. The critical work performed by Volunteers and Interns is essential to the effort at South Street Seaport Museum, to tell the story of New York the port city, and New York the island at the center of the world. Volunteers are part of our crew, working together, enabling South Street Seaport Museum to achieve its mission.

Volunteer opportunities vary but each contributes an important part to the whole organization.


Finance
The Finance Department has many functions, including oversight of the Museum’s financial resources and reputation, ensuring its integrity as a responsible steward of public funds, and providing an effective financial management infrastructure. Only college or graduate student level Interns are accepted for Volunteering positions in the Finance Department.

Development
The development department finds and secures funding from foundations, corporations, and individuals, and provides recognition for donors. The department obtains funding for general operating support as well as gifts restricted to specific exhibits, programs and vessels. Institutional Advancement also oversees community relations, including public outreach and marketing.

Entry level:  Depending on the Volunteer’s or Intern’s skills; Data entry, membership fulfillment, and mailings, filing, computer work (Excel, Word, etc.), photocopying. Requirements: High school or higher level of education.

Fundraising
Specialized:  Draft grants applications for small projects and gifts in kind. Follow up after grant applications have been sent and write thank-you notes and follow-up reports.

Marketing & Public Relations
Entry level:  Maintaining the press list with current email and contact information. Doing press mailings as needed. Requirements: High school or higher level of education. Good organizational skills.
Specialized:  Developing marketing and public relations for new programs (education, public, and family) and exhibits. Drafting releases, drafting flyers, creating and updating a press list. Requirements: Experience in marketing and public relations or college-level courses. Writing skills; expert in Microsoft Office software. Self-motivated.

Special Events
Volunteers and Interns assist with Museum events for members and the general public. These events can take place during regular business hours and after hours. Administrative support is needed during office hours.

Entry level:  Assist with one-time events that the Museum holds for members and the general public during regular business hours and after hours. Tasks may include checking people in, providing information about memberships and Volunteering, collecting names and contact information from attendees, and membership and other follow-up after the event. Administrative support is needed during office hours and at events.

Requirements: Good interpersonal skills. Good organizational skills. Ability to work independently.
Hours: Varies depending on events

Bowne & Co., Stationers
Entry level:  Assist with the interpretation and explanation of the 19th century printing industry’s importance to the trade. They will also greet and help customers with their purchases and with the interpretation and explanation of the district as well as the Museum as a whole. Training is provided. Requirements: Strong interpersonal skills.

Specialized:  Interns who are willing to commit to two days a week over three months to learn letterpress may be promoted to apprentice printers on the Supervisor’s recommendation.
Hours: Daily 10am – 7pm

Bowne Printers
Entry level:  Assist with the interpretation and explanation of the 19th century printing industry’s importance to the trade. They will also greet and help customers with their purchases and with the interpretation and explanation of the district as well as the Museum as a whole. Training is provided. Requirements: Strong interpersonal skills.

Specialized: Interns who are willing to commit to two days a week over three months to learn letterpress may be promoted to apprentice printers on the Supervisor’s recommendation.
Hours: Daily 10am – 7pm

Maritime Crafts Center
Entry level:  Docent for the Maritime Crafts Center (Model Shop)—answer phone, answer visitor questions. Requirements: High school or higher education. Good customer-service skills.

Specialized:  If the applicant’s portfolio of maritime crafts is of excellent quality, he or she can build model ships and ships in bottles, carve figureheads and signs, and otherwise engage in maritime crafts at the Model Shop.  Volunteers and Interns must be prepared to explain their craft to Museum visitors. Requirements: High level of skill. Strong interpersonal skills.
Hours: 4-8 hours a day, 1 or 2 days a week

Requirements: High school or higher level of education.  Proficiency with Microsoft Office, particularly Excel. Knowledge of museum collections management programs a plus.

After training, curatorial Volunteers and Interns work with Museum artifacts and assist with Museum exhibitions.

Entry level:  Filing, copying, and data-entry work.

Specialized:  Projects include, but are not limited to, inventorying items in the Museum’s collection and library, research assistance, data entry, writing descriptions of items for Museum records, assistance with custodial care of the collection in geenral.

Interns from accredited art history, cultural history, anthropology, cultural economics, local history, social geography, maritime history, and other related university programs are encouraged to apply.

Hours: During office hours (Monday-Friday, 9am – 5pm)

Volunteers and Interns in the Education Department assist education staff with public programs, book talks, lectures, workshops, walking tours, and family programming.

Entry level: The education department offers a variety of Volunteer and Internship opportunities suitable for a wide range of interests and availability.  Possibilities include: interpret our ships and exhibits by giving guided tours to the public; assist educators with hands on activities for school groups; support educators providing special programs, workshops, and walking tours; share crafts and activities with children during family programs; work with live animals in the Wet Lab; create samples, copies, and documentation for activities through office support. Training is provided. Requirements: High school or higher level of education, or participation through an Internship program.

Specialized:  Work with Education to develop curriculum and learning materials related to the Museum’s mission. Join the education crew aboard working schooners to support activities with children sailing in New York Harbor. Training and mentoring is provided.

Hours: Vary
Additional Requirements

Specialized positions may have additional requirements.  Some positions aboard operating ships require a drug test.  Positions including one-on-one work with children, handicapped, or elderly visitors may require screening according to relevant government agencies.  Your Education Supervisor will provide guidance.

The Visitor Services staff are the public face of the Museum. Visitor Services personnel serve as Meet and Greeters as well as Docents in the Museum Galleries and Ships.

Meet and Greet:
Entry level: Meet and Greet visitors to the Museums and provide an orientation of the various facets of the Museum. Also assist with retail services within the Museum.
Specialized: Excellent customer service skills required.
Hours: Vary

Docents & Historical Interpreters
Docents are prepared through training provided by Museum staff as well as self-study to give tours of the Museum, the Historic District and the Museum’s vessels to the public.

Entry level: Provide factual information and historical interpretation to visitors to Museum vessels, galleries and/or craft centers. Training and self-study materials on the Museum’s mission, background, and physical layout are available.

Requirements: Good customer-service skills.

Specialized: Walking tours: Describe the natural, social, and historical characteristics of the Seaport neighborhood to interested visitors.
Requirements: Good speaking voice, physical stamina, research skills. Videographers may be required for certain projects as well.
Hours: Vary

Volunteers and Interns help maintain and interpret the stationary vessels and operate, maintain and interpret the operational vessels.

Waterfront Ship Restoration & Maintenance
Entry level: The work of carefully restoring, repairing, and maintaining our ships never ceases. During every month of the year Volunteers, Interns, and staff work together to care for our ships. Work includes: cleaning and organizing, repairs, painting, polishing, varnishing, and general maintenance. In the spring, the operational vessels are fitted out and re-rigged for the coming season, and in the late fall they’re down-rigged for winter. Most labor can be unskilled. Training is provided.

Specialized All ships need carpenters, electricians, ship engineers, riggers, metalworkers, and divers from time to time. Requirements: Physical stamina, skills as described above, and an ability to work in a team.

Hours: Daily, special maintenance days on Saturdays 9-5

Crew, Operational Vessels
Entry level: At this time, the operating vessel is the schooner Pioneer. Pioneer does public and educational sails in New York Harbor. Volunteers and Interns work as crew in New York Harbor and beyond. Training is provided. Requirements: Must be over the age of 18 or have parental or guardian permission, and pass a USCG required drug test.

Specialized Opportunities for extended trips on the Hudson River, Long Island Sound and points north and south are occasionally available for Volunteers in Pioneer. Volunteer crew may be able to spend a week or more on the water. Anyone with appropriate U.S. Coast Guard credentials and experience are encouraged to apply for relief crew positions with the vessel’s master. Requirements: Must be over the age of 18 or have parental or guardian permission, and pass a USCG required drug test.

Additional Requirements
To become a Pioneer crew member, in addition to filling in the application form and being interviewed by the Volunteer Coordinator, you must:

  • Be 18 or older or have a parent’s or guardian’s permission to sail.
  • Go on two training sails. These are held most Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 noon during the sailing season.
  • Between the first and second training sail, take a U.S. Coast Guard mandated drug test.
  • Work as crew on at least four sails a month (during the season) to maintain your active status.

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Area of Interest
Waterfront / Vessel OperationsCuratorial / CollectionsEducationPrint ShopsGeneral Administration