Volunteer at Mystic Seaport Museum

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with us. Rewarding opportunities wait for you in many of Mystic Seaport Museum’s departments. With opportunities ranging from one-time projects or events to several shifts per week interpreting our exhibits, there is truly something for everyone who wants to contribute time and talents to the Museum.  Whether helping to direct visitors with our Visitor Services department, weeding gardens, assisting the Shipyard with boat maintenance or the Facilities Department with building maintenance, volunteers are vitally important to operating our world-class institution. Volunteers are utilized in the areas and departments listed below.

Hands on Deck (HOD)

The HOD Squad is a core group of approximately 100 “on call” volunteers ready to assist whenever and wherever necessary. The goal is to provide volunteer assistance for scheduled special events. Examples of the types of programs that are supported by HOD Squad volunteers are: Irish Day Parade, Pirate Days, Halloween, Community Carol Sing, etc.

Visitor Information Team

The Information Team supports the Visitor Reception Center providing information to visitors before and after they enter the Museum. Three areas covered by the Visitor Information Team include: Information Desk, Navigation Station and Rover Station.

Exhibit Interpretation

The Exhibit Interpretation Department is responsible for educating and inspiring visitors by sharing the story of America and the Sea. This is accomplished through the use of interpreters in many of our exhibits and on board some of our historic vessels. The department provides training to prepare volunteer interpreters to be successful in whatever location they may be assigned.

Facilities Department

The Facilities Department is responsible for ensuring that both the visitor and staff have a safe experience throughout the buildings and grounds of the Museum. The department consists of seven subdivisions; Carpentry, Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, General Maintenance, Gardening, and Cleaning. Volunteer opportunities are available in all areas.

Collections Research Center

The Collections Research Center is the major occupant of the Rossie Mill Building across the street from the Museum. The collections housed there primarily cover the last two centuries of America and the Sea. The opportunities presented in this facility are multifaceted. At volunteer orientation you will receive more in-depth information about these areas.


The Boathouse functions in two unique time frames. During the winter months there are volunteer opportunities helping to maintain and refurbish the boats as necessary to support the summertime visitor experience. During the summer months, volunteers assist visitors who would like to experience time on the Mystic River in one of our small boats. You will need good interpersonal skills, some mechanical skills and good judgment as to the seamanship abilities of visitors who wish to use the fleet.

Gung-Ho Squad

The Gung-Ho Squad consists of a group of volunteers who provide support to the Shipyard staff and Facilities staff in all areas of activities. They are a seasonal group that meets every other Saturday from November to April.

Maritime Gallery

The Maritime Gallery specializes in selling contemporary maritime works of art (paintings, sculpture, scrimshaw, and models) and is open to the public daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  It holds five shows a year beginning at the end of April through December 31 as well as a series of art programs in winter/spring when artists give live demos and lectures in the gallery. Volunteers greet visitors and occasionally help the Director and Assistant Director with miscellaneous projects.

Summer Junior Volunteer Program/Community Service

The Junior Volunteers (ages 13-17) at Mystic Seaport Museum are an integral part of the summer operations at the Museum. Their contributions enhance the visitors’ experience and enable Mystic Seaport Museum to enrich and extend its program offerings. Junior volunteer opportunities are varied and extend through a number of Mystic Seaport Museum departments. Each June we have an orientation for interested Junior Volunteers who would like to join us for the summer. The departments that offer Junior Volunteer opportunities are listed below. We also have events during the year for those who would like to extend their volunteer experience throughout the school year.

Mystic Seaport Museum Boathouse

Volunteer duties, to start, include cleaning and preparing the dock area and various small craft for the day. The Boathouse opens to the public at 10 a.m. At that time volunteers are expected to interact with the public, welcoming them and assisting them in getting on and off the water in our rowboats and sailboats. At the end of the day, 4 p.m., the volunteers help secure the area and the boats for the night.


Planetarium volunteers have a lot of interaction with the public, and answer a wide range of visitor questions (about the Planetarium, the Museum, restrooms, water fountains, etc). The primary tasks for Planetarium volunteers are:

  • Greeting visitors to public planetarium shows, both inside the planetarium and immediately outside of it.
  • Interpreting our lobby exhibit and answering visitor questions.
  • Assisting Planetarium Staff with other activities for the public, such as our solar observing telescope demonstration.

Sailing Center Program

This program introduces junior volunteers to the background of running a sailing fleet of 12 JY15 and more than 50 Dyer Dhows. Each summer, volunteers get the exciting opportunity to get hands-on experience of being on the water. Each class begins with a classroom “chalk talk” or conversation about that day’s activities, followed by practicing sailing techniques led by US SAILING-certified sailing instructors on the Mystic River. Volunteers are the helping hands for the instructors, ready and willing to support the program, and help it to run smoothly. This is a rain-or-shine program so be sure to check the weather the morning of and come prepared with the correct gear.

Volunteers should bring:
• Water bottles
• Fleece jacket
• Wind breaker
• Shoes not sandals
• Bathing suit
• Sunscreen
• Hat or sunglasses
• Lunch

Interpretation Department

Interpretation junior volunteers can have a wide range of experiences depending on which exhibits or activities they are assigned. They will always work cooperatively with a staff member who is in charge of their station and will provide specifics about relevant maritime history.

Summer Day Camp

Volunteers with the Summer Day Camp programs choose one or two full weeks (Monday-Friday) to help out with the programs run out of Bartram Building. Our campers range in age from 4 to 12 depending on the week and program. Summer Day Camp volunteers have a number of duties during camp that range from helping campers with craft activities, keeping our camp room organized, reading stories with the campers, and helping with small traveling groups around the Museum grounds. You will have at least one Museum Teacher with you and the campers at all times. Summer Day Camp is fun and fast-paced and we ask that our volunteers be friendly, energetic, and ready to jump in with our young campers and activities.

Visitor Services

Visitor Services Volunteers have numerous duties and activities but their main focus is to actively engage our guests and help them plan out their visit while at Mystic Seaport Museum. Successful Visitor Services Volunteers are outgoing, helpful, presentable, patient, and motivated to expand their own knowledge of our maritime heritage and share it with others. Duties of the Visitor Services volunteer include providing customer support at the Courtyard Concierge Kiosk, Sanger Building Information Desk, Navigation Stations, and offering support for special events.There are morning shifts or afternoon shifts available.