First of all, in order to tour, you must be trained. We hold training sessions once every semester (one in September and one in January), however if you happen to miss the training session, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a time when you can train under another tour guide.
There are 6 tours you can guide for – Early Life & History of Life, Biodiversity, Mummies, World Cultures, Minerals and Dinosaurs (for their Tour Scripts, see the drop down menu that appears when you place your mouse over “Tour Guide Scripts”). We also have a publication that has all these tour guides printed, and you can email us if you want a free copy.
Arrive about 10 minutes early. Wear a tank-top or a tight long-sleeve (winter) so you can just pull a T-shirt on overtop, that’s usually easiest (we will have do-it-yourself t-shirt making sessions throughout the year, keep your eyes out for these sessions, and let us know if you need a t-shirt so we can have one sooner rather than later!).
Get your T-shirt, say “Hi” to the other guides.
Head up to your exhibit.
Ask visitors in your area if they’d like a tour; or alternatively if they’re looking at something already you can throw some information in and if they look interested keep going.
At the end of your shift, return the T-shirt.
That’s it, you’re done! Super-simple.
Tour Guiding for an Event?
Check in with Ingrid or one of the execs to find out what’s up!
Tips & Tricks
Keep your tour casual. Don’t worry if you don’t give the whole tour, if you can’t remember a detail, or if a visitor only wants to know about one thing.
At first you’ll be focusing on content so it will be difficult to do this, but as you get more comfortable really try to ask visitors to guess parts of your tour, or ask them questions (especially children).
For example, if they’re young kids, ask them to guess which organs were taken out of the body in the mummies tour. Other examples – World Cultures ask them if they think the shrunken head is real. Minerals: ask a child to pick their favourite mineral or guess where it came from. Dinosaurs: guess whether a dinosaur ate meat or plants.
The more interactive you can make your visit with children (or anyone really!), the better. However, if they’re very shy and unresponsive, don’t force it; don’t continue to ask lots of questions.
Sometimes a visitor might be more interested in just having a conversation with you, or talking about something completely unrelated. That’s okay – it’s more about the visitor having a good time than covering everything in the exhibit!
It’s okay to gently correct children who are behaving rudely in the museum (yelling, touching things they shouldn’t, running around too much, eating) if you find it inappropriate and their parents aren’t doing anything.
There’s no flash photography in the museum and most things you shouldn’t touch, with the exception of the Douglas Fir and some fossil samples.
If you’re giving a tour to a school group, establish some rules at the beginning.
Relax! The most important thing to remember is that YOU are the expert – you almost definitely know more about the subject than the visitor, and they’re interested in learning from you, not trying to trip you up. So just enjoy sharing some fun facts and meeting new people!
Thanks to Bruno and Emily Bamforth for Dino tour information, thanks to Barbara Lawson (Curator of World Cultures) and Deborah Hayek for their information on World Cultures, and thanks to Trina, Erin and Isabel for their help on the Mummy script!