VMSG conference 2023: Call for volcanoes outreach teams at the Natural History Museum!

The VMSG 2023 London organising committee are excited to announce a volcanoes public outreach event in the Natural History Museum, London, in collaboration with the NHM Science Communications team.

Photo: NHM. https://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit.html


10am – 5.30pm, Saturday 7th January, 2023 in the Natural History Museum, London

(following the London VMSG 2023 conference on 4-6th January)


A full-day volcanoes outreach event across the public museum floor of the Natural History Museum in central London, as the final part of the VMSG 2023 conference in London.

The Natural History Museum is one of the UK’s most popular museum attractions. This is a fantastic opportunity for the VMSG community to share the wonders of volcano science, and the implications of volcanoes for people and societies, with a large and varied public audience in an iconic national venue. The museum is expected to be quite busy on the date of this event, particularly with families bringing their children.

We invite the whole VMSG community to form outreach teams to participate in this event. The deadline for expression of interest is 17:00pm on 31st October 2022. You will be asked at this stage to submit a short brief (300 words max) outlining your team’s outreach plans.

Outreach activities:

Participating teams are requested to design one or more outreach activities that will engage public visitors to the museum.

Your activities should be aimed specifically at children of 4-14 years of age.

Please design your activities so that the youngest interacting museum visitors can be included and engaged in some way (i.e. children around 3-4 years old), even if they might not be able to do or understand everything. Their attention span will often dictate whether the rest of their family is able to remain at your stand.

Please design your activities with disability, access and inclusion in mind.

Although the core remit of the Natural History Museum is to share the wonder of the natural sciences with their visitors, it is also very important for the museum to show the public what this science means for people and communities globally. Applied and social volcanologists are therefore also highly encouraged to participate in this event, to share the human impacts and implications of volcanoes with visitors.

Past volcano outreach examples in the museum include: Participation in model eruption simulations, rock samples to hold and explore, a light microscope to try out with slides. Further ideas include interactive science experiments, crafting activities, storytelling and games.


We warmly invite as many of the VMSG community as possible to participate in this event. This will be a wonderful opportunity for ECRs in particular to develop their skills communicating with the public. We encourage you to be as creative and interactive as possible, to inspire the volcanologists of the future!


Your outreach team:

Where possible, we recommend that your outreach team includes a minimum of two Early Career Researchers (PhD or post-doc level), who will ideally be named as the team leaders when you submit your expression of interest. Priority will be given to participants that are attending the VMSG conference. The rest of your team can be put together at a later date.

Your final outreach team should consist of at least 6 people, and a maximum of 10 people. This is to ensure that your outreach station can be covered at all times during your session, whilst allowing for individuals to take breaks. It also provides some leeway in case of Covid or other absences on the day. It is not a requirement for team members to attend the VMSG 2023 conference.

Your team may consist of academics at any stage of their career, including research assistants, MSc and undergraduate students, as well as other members of your research collectives, and practitioners. We particularly encourage the participation of people from under-represented and minoritised groups.

Once you have received confirmation of participation from the organising committee, you will be asked to submit the final details of your activities, as well as the names of your full team, by Sunday 20th November 2022.

The length of your outreach session will depend on interest and available space – please indicate whether your team would be interested to provide outreach for a half-day shift (minimum 6 people), or a full-day shift (minimum 8 people).

Resources for your stand:

You will be provided with a table (approx. 3-4 metres long). Please bring all of the resources, equipment and exhibits you will need for your activities; the museum will not be able to provide these. A single power socket may be provided upon request.

Your table will be located at a position in the museum where there is several floors’ worth of open space above. There is also further floor area extending beyond some of the table sites. It will therefore be possible to accommodate some free-standing installations next to (or in place of) the tables, as long as they pass the health and safety assessment. Please indicate with your submission if you would like to place a free-standing installation, and its approximate dimensions.

You are welcome to bring your own board stands to place behind your table if they are necessary for your activities. However please do not display any academic posters, or any other academic-level literature or materials – these are very off-putting to the public and are not permitted by the NHM’s Science Comms team. Any display materials should be designed specifically for a general public audience, and for children in particular.

Please contact Mihaiela (m.swift@nhm.ac.uk) or Chiara (C.Petrone@nhm.ac.uk) if you have questions about the logistics of your stand.

Outdoor space:

Given the expected temperature and weather in January it is unlikely that the public would wish to attend an outdoor stand or demonstration. For this reason, all activities must be designed to take place indoors.

Health and safety:

All outreach activities will need to pass a health and safety assessment.

It may be possible for slightly ‘messier’ activities to go ahead, as long as this is planned for in advance and can be fully managed by your outreach team (e.g. cleaning up, protecting the floor, using child-safe substances). Please indicate with your submission if you expect to create waste or mess, and how you will mitigate this.

If you are not sure whether your outreach idea will be permitted or possible within the museum site, please contact Mihai Swift (m.swift@nhm.ac.uk) in the first instance to make enquiries.

Parking at the museum site:

There are no public car parks at or near the Natural History Museum, and very limited metered roadside parking in the area; participants are encouraged to arrive by public transport.

If it will be necessary to transport your outreach resources to the museum by private vehicle, it may be possible for a parking slot to be arranged within the museum for the Saturday only, for a maximum of one vehicle (car or small van) per team. Please indicate on your submission form if you anticipate using a private vehicle to transport your outreach resources.

Funding and reimbursement:

Participation in this event is undertaken on a voluntary basis. The organising committee and the museum will not be able to provide payment or funds for outreach activities and resources, nor reimburse transport costs for teams attending the event. We encourage participating teams to explore sources of funding through their grants, institutions and societies.

Disability and access:

If any member of your final outreach team has specific access needs, please let us know as far in advance of the event as possible, and we will endeavour to meet these.

Please submit your team’s expression of interest by 17:00pm on Friday 31st October 2022. The submission form can be found via the following link: