The word “docent” is derived from the Latin word docere, meaning “to teach.” The term is used by many museums to describe the trained volunteers who provide educational services for museum visitors. Docents are enthusiastic people who facilitate art-viewing discussions with visitors.
Qualifications, Training, and Duties
MHAA Dali is always looking for friendly, outgoing people with excellent communication skills and an ability and desire to work with diverse audiences. All docents receive free training by museum staff, so an art background is not necessary.
The role of a docent is three-fold:
Serve as hosts, to provide a welcoming atmosphere.
Serve as interpreters of the museum’s exhibitions, helping to give the visitor a deeper understanding and appreciation of the artwork.
Assist in preserving the collections by providing auxiliary security in exhibition areas and attend monthly meetings covering upcoming events, scheduled tours, and exhibition information.
The educational role of the docent is the most important and challenging aspect of the job. A docent should help visitors attain a personal relationship with the art and enable them to include art in their own lives. In addition, a docent must be sensitive to visitors’ differences – learning style, cultural backgrounds, age level, and special needs. Today’s audience is as varied as the artwork on the wall and requires open-mindedness, flexibility, and respect.
Benefits of Becoming a Docent
Docents participate in satisfying experiences working with children, college students, and community members while they expand their understanding of art and are challenged by new ideas.
Whether you are a college student, retiree, or someone interested in giving back to the community, consider becoming a docent today!
Other volunteer opportunities include helping at workshops and MHAA sponsored community events.