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The Whole Picture: Volunteering in Museums and Galleries in Scotland

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Read about the research we commissioned to examine the scale, scope and impact of volunteering in Scotland’s museums and galleries. The overall picture that emerged was a positive one, which reveals how volunteering helps to achieve many aims, both for the arts and culture sector and the Scottish Government.

Volunteers are vital to the operation and sustainability of many of Scotland’s museums and galleries. Often volunteers ensure the viability of venues, and at the very least they enhance the visitor experience. Volunteers also help to deliver national outcomes – both related to the sector and to wider agendas.

Examples were given of how the experience of volunteering can have a transformational effect on the life of the volunteer, and impacts on well-being and self-confidence can be very positive.


  • 94% of responding organisations used volunteers
  • 31% of responding organisations were staffed solely by volunteers
  • Around 90% of volunteers agreed that volunteering helped to increase cultural participation, provide a wide range of cultural experiences and deepen connections between museums and communities
  • More than 2,600 people volunteered across 68 organisations – and the number is going up
  • Across the sector, volunteers are involved in all aspects of museum work
  • Motivations to volunteer at museums and galleries ranged from the altruistic and social to the intellectual and economic
  • Main motivations to volunteer were to: help the museum/gallery (82%), satisfy a personal interest (73%) and meet new people (58%)
  • 99% of volunteers rated their experience as very good or good
  • The value of volunteer time alone was estimated at around £5.3 million
  • Volunteers also contribute to the delivery of national outcomes related to both the museums sector and to wider agendas

Download the full and summary reports

Download The Whole Picture (PDF, 4MB) Download The Whole Picture - Exec Summary (PDF, 572KB)
Published January 2015
Research Conducted By Morris Hargreaves McIntyre
Research Funded By Museums Galleries Scotland