As the majority of museums are nowadays carried by the public sector and are open to the general public, they also rely on public engagement to fulfill their original intent, such as collecting, preserving, researching, and exhibiting, as wells as living up to their cultural and educational responsibility. A notable form of participation is that of individuals, who not only give their time and knowledge, but also provide valuable ideas and manpower to the respective cultural institutions. Many museums have spawned out of citizens? groups and would not be able to sustain themselves without voluntary work. Today, even museums with full-time staff recognize the benefits of volunteering.The purpose of this thesis is to highlight how voluntary work can benefit a museum substantially. After an abstract on the history of museum openings and the current situation of museums, the relation between the public and museums is looked into. In addition, this thesis also explores the relationship of volunteers, visitors and non-visitors. Further, the ideal conditions and organizational structures for voluntary work are discussed. Subsequently, the following best practice examples are covered: Unternehmen Schneeball at the Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art in Vienna, volunteering in the Salzburg Museum, the MuseumsAGEntur, and the school museum Bad Leonfelden in Upper Austria.Voluntary work provides valuable opportunities to improve a museums? work and simultaneously is a great way to foster public participation in museums.