We are a thriving Independent Historic Library and Educational Charity, welcoming new members of all ages.
We are open as usual: Tuesdays to Fridays 10am-5pm and Saturdays 10am-4pm.
Contact us:
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]


Volunteers play a vital part within the Institution with various opportunities available

Volunteering at the Institution is an excellent way to get involved, support us and help maintain this unique and flourishing organisation.  Through various roles, volunteers increase awareness of our collections and engage with a wide range of people, which is beneficial both to the Institution and our volunteers.

Volunteer roles

We are primarily looking for Front of House volunteers and Tour Guides at the moment.  If you are interested in volunteering with us, please look at the information on the following roles below and complete the form at the bottom of the page.  If you have any queries please contact the Office on 01392 274727 or [email protected]We currently looking for new volunteers offering opportunities through our new NHLF project “The Next Chapter”.

  • Front of House volunteer
  • Library volunteer
  • Tour guides
  • Prints and drawings research volunteer
  • Garden volunteer

Front of House volunteer

We are now looking for friendly people to join our Front of House Volunteer team.  Help welcome people to our unique historic building, situated in the heart of Exeter.   This role is important in setting the tone as people enter the Institution and to ensure people have an enjoyable and safe visit.

In this role you can expect to…

  • Welcome and document members and visitors to our building
  • Give induction tours to new members
  • Answer in person and telephone queries
  • Take payments for membership and events
  • Support the staff with the day-to-day operation of the Institution
Time commitment – 3.5 hours weekly, AM or PM, Tuesday – Saturday / ad hoc slots also available.

Library volunteer

You will help the Library staff to run our library services and manage our historic library collections, situated in its original Georgian setting.  Library Volunteers are on hand to support research enquiries carry out daily tasks that contribute to research and conservation.

In this role you can expect to…

  • Answer enquiries in person and over the phone
  • Supervise research bookings
  • Ensure that collections are handled well
  • Issue and shelve books for research and loan
  • Help members to use the computers
  • Ensure that the library stays tidy and organised
  • Carry out tasks that contribute to managing and preserving the collections

Time commitment – 3.5 hours weekly, AM or PM, Tuesday – Saturday / ad hoc slots also available.

Tour Guide

We are now looking for enthusiastic people to join our Tour Guide team to help welcome people to our unique historic building, situated in the heart of Exeter. We offer free guided tours every Wednesday afternoon – 2 tour guides per session, tours are suitable for all ages and last approximately 20-30mins.

In this role you can expect to…

  • Learn about the Institution, the building, our collections and what we offer today
  • Interact with visitors to help them discover the Institution and its history
  • Receive training in communicating information within a heritage environment
  • Share your enthusiasm for history, heritage and beautiful places with others

Prints and drawings research volunteer – we aren’t in need of research volunteers at the moment

As part of the Next Chapter project we are digitising our Prints and Drawings collection.  We are seeking volunteers who are interested in researching a particular aspect of the collection (this might be an artist, depictions of a local place, or a method of production) and then reporting their findings back to inform the online interpretation of the collections.

In this role you can expect to…

  • Gain an understanding of the history and significance of our Prints & Drawings collection
  • Gain some understanding of the data required to catalogue a collection
  • Have an opportunity to conduct research in an area of your own interest
  • Have an opportunity to present your findings for our Collections explorer, newsletter, or social media posts
  • Contribute towards the interpretation of a collection of national importance

Garden Volunteer – we aren’t in need of garden volunteers at the moment

As part of the Next Chapter project, we are now looking for a team of enthusiastic people to become volunteers on our Green Shoots garden team, working together to bring our garden to life.  For this role we are looking for volunteers who have a keen interest in gardening and a hands-on approach.  People who are interested in working in horticulture or horticultural history or interested in sustainable and ecological gardening.

In essence the garden will…

  • Represent heritage gardening styles and techniques throughout the timeline of the building and grounds
  • Grow a living library, reflecting the historic collection of the Devon and Exeter Institution
  • Provide edible plants for the Institution kitchen and workshop events
  • Incorporate a physic garden with plants for health and medicinal plantings
  • Plant for wildlife and nature, highlighting endangered plants and wildlife from the collection, providing habitats to sustain and support wildlife within the ‘Exeter Green Corridor’
  • Use ecological and sustainable methods and materials
  • Collaborate in partnership with organisations in the use of the gardens and community connections

Time commitment – Group meets on the first and third Thursday of the month 11-2pm.   Ad-hoc volunteers also welcome.

Accessibility Information for the Institution can be viewed here.

Volunteer Form

If you would like to become a volunteer at the Devon and Exeter Institution please complete the form below.

  • Please select as many as you like.
  • Please include any skills, qualities or experience you have. We believe that everyone has something to offer, so please do include life experiences, which can be as relevant as work experience, like organising a social event, writing a blog, helping a neighbour or experience with a particular community or age group. If you are a university student, please also let us know which year you are in.
  • This could be anything from meeting new people, getting back into a routine, or keeping busy, to improving your CV, updating specific skills or sharing your interests.
  • All volunteers need to be aged 18 and over. As training is offered for this role we are hoping volunteers will be able to commit to a regular volunteering session for a minimum period of one year. Please select any days you are available. Sessions are from 10.00 - 1.30pm and 1.30 - 5.00pm on weekdays and 10.00 - 1.00pm and 1.00 - 4.00pm on Saturdays. Do have a chat with us if you couldn't fit in with those times as we can be flexible.
  • If you would like to give us any further information or make a comment please do so.