Before I begin, I want to make clear that I am not using these case studies as examples of worst practice (though they are not all examples of best practice), or even as examples of consciously exploitative practice. I know people who have worked at all three of these museums (and indeed at the cultural heritage organisations that will appear in a far less flattering light tomorrow), so this is not an attempt to condemn these institutions’ staff.
This is an attempt to draw out the differences between volunteering, voluntary work, work experience and internship in practice; and to highlight the ways that museums’ policies on and programmes of volunteering and voluntary work can reinforce or create disadvantage and exclusion. Hopefully, then, it will be easier to identify widespread and/or persistent exploitation, and structural threats to the cultural heritage profession and its work.
[Now cross-posted on (un)free archaeology.]