Share your Passion by Becoming a Volunteer

Thank you for considering volunteering at The Bakken Museum. The museum inspires discovery and creativity in thousands of people each year. This could not be done without the support of numerous volunteers who generously provide their time and resources.

As a volunteer, you will have the unique chance to:

  • Contribute to our knowledge and assist in the preservation of The Bakken Museum's extraordinary collections.
  • Contribute to The Bakken’s temporary and permanent exhibits.
  • Explore intriguing ideas and learn techniques for communicating and educating the public.
  • Feel a sense of fulfillment for providing a needed service for present-day and future generations of children, families and adults interested in learning.

Opportunities

TOUR VOLUNTEERS

The Bakken Museum inspires a passion for innovation by exploring the potential for science, technology and the humanities to make the world a better place. The museum is Minnesota’s only Smithsonian-Affiliate and features a world-renowned collection of books and artifacts, multiple galleries focusing on the wonders of invention, plant medicine, bio-technology, and science, and The Florence Bakken Medicinal Garden.

Tour volunteers lead youth, adult, and senior groups through exhibits, gardens, and grounds to share the mission and vision of The Bakken Museum.

Work with The Bakken Museum staff to deliver consistent programs in a safe, engaging, and accepting environment.

Time Commitment:

Volunteer Field Trip Tour Guide (for Grades K-12)
  • Tuesdays-Fridays 9:15 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
  • 4 hour shifts
  • Minimum of 8 hours/month is requested
  • Minimum of 4 hours/week is preferred

  • Volunteer Tour Guide (for youth, adult, & senior groups)
  • School-year weekdays – 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Summer weekdays – 10:45 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
  • Saturdays – 10:45 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
  • Minimum of 4 hours/month is preferred

GARDEN VOLUNTEERS

The Bakken Museum sits on nearly 3 beautiful acres of property on the west side of Bde Maka Ska. Our unique urban property includes some major surprises for garden enthusiasts, including prairie and wetland restoration areas, a medicinal plant garden, organic vegetable gardens and much more.


There is much to be done year-round to maintain and enhance our gardens and grounds. We have an informal group of volunteer gardeners who meet regularly on Thursday evenings (4:30 - 6:30 p.m.) to do whatever needs doing. Saturday mornings (9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.) are also an excellent time to come help out. Additionally, we not only welcome individuals, but also groups of up to 50 volunteers to accomplish projects year-round.


Our Director of Facilities and Operations, Chris Lundeen, will be your guide to the gardens. Your schedule will be flexible, and your work will be truly appreciated by the thousands who visit us each year. Please fill out the form below for more information.

EXHIBIT VOLUNTEERS

Work as an exhibits volunteer is project oriented and may not always be available.


Time Commitment: 8 hours per week

Position Summary: Assists in development and production of new exhibits at The Bakken Museum.

Responsibilities:

  • Assist with content research, draft exhibit text, and procure objects and other exhibit resources.
  • Conduct image research, acquisition, and licensing.
  • Participate as a team member to investigate potential topics for exhibits and communicate research findings to team.
  • Assist with testing exhibit ideas and prototyping with the public.
  • Maintain high standards of accuracy and comprehensiveness in all research and management tasks.
  • Comply with all policies and procedures of The Bakken Museum.

Qualifications:

  • Familiarity with or interest in communicating ideas to the public.
  • Knowledge of or strong interest in history, science, engineering, and/or medicine.
  • Experience using MS Office.
  • Ability to conduct in-depth research using library and internet resources.
  • Ability to clearly communicate findings in written form.
  • Ability to act independently and to seek consultation when needed.
  • Ability to work as a team member.

Additional Skills:
Occasionally projects arise requiring specialized skills in graphic design, multimedia production, evaluation, and building prototypes or other exhibit components. These skills are desired but not required to volunteer with exhibits.

Training: Training will be provided by Curator of Exhibits and Collections.


Supervision: Adrian Fischer, Curator of Exhibits and Collections, 612-926-3878, ext. 201


Scheduling: Flexible, Monday-Friday

COLLECTIONS VOLUNTEERS

Work as a collections volunteer is project oriented and may, therefore, not always be available.


Time Commitment: 4 hours per week


Position Summary: Assists in the care and management of the collections, including research related to The Bakken’s historical collections of artifacts and books.


Responsibilities:

  • Assist with the management, organization, and conservation of artifact, library, and/or art collections and related materials.
  • Conduct historical research related to Bakken artifacts and books.
  • Communicate research findings to the curator and other team members.
  • Assist with presentation of collections at public events.
  • Maintain high standards of accuracy and comprehensiveness in all research and management tasks.
  • Comply with all policies and procedures of The Bakken Museum.

Qualifications

  • Familiarity with or interest in electrical apparatuses and electronic medical devices.
  • Knowledge of or interest in history and historical research methods.
  • Knowledge of library and archival practices is preferred for special projects.
  • Ability to act independently and to seek consultation when needed.
  • Ability to work as a team member.
  • Ability to clearly communicate findings in written form.

Training: Training will be provided by the Curator of Exhibits and Collections.


Supervision: Adrian Fischer, Curator of Exhibits and Collections, 612-926-3878, ext. 201


Scheduling: Flexible, Tuesdays through Thursdays.


Benefits

  • Contribute to our knowledge and assist in the preservation of The Bakken’s extraordinary collections.
  • Assist in developing The Bakken’s collections, presenting them to the public, and educating future researchers.
  • Sense of fulfillment for providing a needed service for present-day and future generations of children, families and adults interested in learning.

VOLUNTEER HIGHLIGHT

NIKA DAVIES

How long have you been volunteering at The Bakken? This fall I begin my 11th year of volunteering as a tour guide at The Bakken Museum. I love introducing visitors to this little treasure. The Bakken is a perfect combination of scientific discovery, innovation, and Minnesota history. From sharing a circle shock, making confetti fly out of a visitor’s hand, to introducing an audience to the science behind Mary Shelley‘s tale of terror, there truly is something to engage every visitor.

What is your favorite Bakken exhibit, artifact, anecdote, event, etc.? My favorite artifact in the museum is Earl Bakken’s transistorized pacemaker. First, because of how much it improved patients’ quality of life. Secondly, it quickly led to so many other great innovations. Third, it launched Earl Bakken as a designer of medical equipment and enabled him to start Medtronic. And lastly, without it, The Bakken Museum would not exist.

What is your favorite memory of volunteering here so far?
One of the joys of introducing others to ‘all things Bakken’ is providing them the opportunity to try things for themselves. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to cheer when I hear a student, caught up in a moment of discovery, announce, “I want to be a scientist.” It makes it well worth all the challenges of shepherding a dozen or more energetic students from one side of the museum to the other. The icing on the cake is watching a student making her or his own discovery. A number of years ago the museum’s exhibit on bioelectricity included a Torpedo fish. A Torpedo fish can produce an electric charge to defend itself. If a visitor wished to experience what touching a small Torpedo fish felt like they placed a fingertip on each of two metal dots, forming a circuit, then pressed and released a button. I have watched students experiment with holding hands to share a shock. The students on each end place a fingertip on a metal dot. Having observed this experiment repeated many times, I know that the charge was strong enough to be felt by up to three people, but no more. It was fourth grade girl who truly demonstrated why hands on exhibits, and time to try and observe, are such an important part of The Bakken Museum experience. Having tested the results with different fingers, she had put her wrist on the Torpedo fish so that the area where her pulse could have been felt touched the metal dot connections. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to try this. I asked her if she had felt a shock. She said yes, but it was up by her fingers. I tested it and had the same result. Leading tours is a constant education.

If you could choose one STEM topic to be an expert in, what would it be? I am part of a growing group that believes it should be STEAM instead of STEM. The arts are an important part of learning. Research has shown listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory. Playing an instrument requires one to read a language written in a new format, move one's hands accordingly, listen to the other instruments, and watch the conductor. Darwin, Audubon, and van Leeuwenhoek’s, without the ability to draw what they saw accurately, knowledge would have likely perished with them. Origami has moved far beyond paper folding. "Origami engineering can meet the demand, across multiple industries, for products and systems with very complex applications," said Mary Frecker, a professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, one of the schools to receive an NSF research grant. "Origami enables products with the ability to fold and then unfold on demand — at any time." I am delighted The Bakken Museum currently has a Paper Engineering exhibit.

What other activities and interests do you spend your time on outside of the museum? When not volunteering at The Bakken Museum I can be found in one of a dozen or so local city, county, or state parks hiking with my dogs. I am an avid theatergoer. On rainy or frigid afternoons you can often find me wandering around the Minnesota Zoo, the Minnesota History Center, or the Minnesota Institute of Art. I have also thrown my energy into registering new voters and getting out the vote.

The Bakken Museum is Minneapolis' best-kept-secret for STEM education of all ages. I enjoy everyday as a volunteer at The Bakken because of the fun and excitement guests have learning about science, technology, and wellness. With exhibits that are both beautiful and interactive, it's easy to pass on my knowledge and passion as a biomedical research professional!" — Travis Navarro

Volunteer Testimonials

"I have been with the Bakken from 8 years old to 18 years old. Even when I was getting older, the Bakken was still fun and exciting for me to visit and volunteer!” — Isabel Johnson


Submission Form

Please indicate which opportunity you are interested in the message section on the form below.

Volunteer Request

  • Help us learn a bit more about your experience and interests as they apply to the museum.
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