Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Chicago

Why Volunteer?
Getting Involved in Chicago's Museums

Looking for a rewarding activity to keep you busy in your retirement years? Volunteering in Chicago's museums and cultural institutions can be a great way to stay active. Many volunteer programs allow flexible schedules and offer exciting benefits such as free or reduced admission, in addition to the satisfaction of engaging in your community.

Maria Christus, volunteer program manager at the Adler Planetarium, said that volunteering is an excellent way for seniors to meet new people, especially those that share a passion for the same topic or cause – in the Adler's case, astronomy.

"Some volunteers want to learn more about astronomy or share their current knowledge," she said. "Some just want to contribute to society in some way and find education important." No matter the reason, many retired Chicagoans give their time to our city's museums and become an essential component of these world-class institutions. Christus said that, across the board, many museum volunteers tend to be senior citizens, although they're not all retired.

"We've got at least a couple folks who are more or less ‘professional' volunteers and give their time to a variety of different places, but there are several who still work full time and volunteer on evenings and weekends," she said. "Some work part-time or own their own business and have flexible schedules."

Museums offer a variety of options for volunteer scheduling. At the Adler, volunteers typically commit to at least one year of service, although schedules within that year vary. Many volunteers are on a regular one-day-a-week schedule, said Christus, although a few seniors with more available time come in multiple times per week. Some just volunteer for special events.In addition to flexible scheduling and social engagement, volunteers receive a variety of perks from their institution including free or reduced admission and other discounts and opportunities . No matter what your passion, volunteering at a museum or cultural institution can be a rewarding and valuable experience. "We rely on volunteers working behind the scenes with staff and directly with visitors to make the Adler a better place to visit," said Christus. "Volunteering is an excellent way to make a difference right here in your own community, where it really matterss.

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