Visitor assistants at the Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum, London

Rachel Mackay, 15.03.2012
Like many museums, the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London relies on a mixture of full-time permanent visitor assistants and temporary staff recruited through an agency.

The agency staff sometimes become part of the long-term team, but in general we recruit for our busy seasons – meaning staff could be working with us for just a week.

Nonetheless, we think it’s critical that all front-of-house staff get a thorough induction. After all, visitors can’t tell the difference between people who have been here for 20 years and people who are only here for the week.

Doing a three-day induction for people who may only be with us for nine days may seem like overkill, but the NHM is a big place and there is a lot to learn.

Much of the training is done in bite-size sessions covering the many aspects of their work and life at the museum.

Over the years we’ve changed the induction process to get the visitor services involved as much as possible. Many of the sessions are developed by the visitor assistants and these form part of their forward job plan.

This develops staff and gives them an opportunity to share their knowledge with the new recruits.

Rachel Mackay is visitor experience manager at the Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum