Docents

What is a Docent?
A docent is a teacher, serving the Museum and the community in the field of art education. The word “docent” is derived from the Latin word ‘docere,’ meaning ‘to teach.’ Docents are knowledgeable, enthusiastic people who act as liaisons between the Museum and the general public. They are professional volunteer Museum staff members.

What do Docents do?
Docents contribute to the Muscarelle Museum of Art in several ways:

Touring: Docents serve as tour guides for children and adults visiting the Museum.
Research: Docents prepare background information on the works of art in the collection of the Museum, special exhibitions, and new acquisitions.
Outreach: Docents give presentations at local schools and community organizations.

Why should I consider becoming a Docent?
Docents can expect to participate in satisfying experiences working with children, college students, and community members. There are many networking opportunities with artists, art professionals, and community leaders. You can also expect to expand your understanding of art and be challenged by new ideas. Being involved with the Docent Program increases involvement with The College and the community at large and promotes academic excellence. The Docents at the Muscarelle Museum of Art are energetic, spirited, enthusiastic, and dedicated to the program.

How long will training take?
The training program lasts six months. Docent training is offered every other year.

What does the training program involve?
From September to April, during the year, Museum professional staff, lecturers, and active docents lead the trainees in several areas including the study of art history, museum education, formal elements of art, as well as the history and collections of the Museum. Provisional Docents develop public speaking skills, research skills, and attend workshops.

Interested people should not feel intimidated by the subject matter studied in the Docent training classes. Muscarelle Museum of Art Docents come from a wide range of backgrounds and professions.

How much of a time commitment will be required?
Provisional Docents meet only two hours on the second and fourth Mondays with exception of December, each Monday 9:00 am to 11:00 am from September through April. Additional hours each week may be required for research, reading assignments, preparation of writing and speaking assignments, and/or observation of Active Docents as they tour in the Museum and speak in the community.

Membership in the Muscarelle Museum of Art Docent Program requires a minimum two-year commitment.

Active Docents are available to volunteer a minimum of eight hours per month and attend training sessions. Active docents usually meet second Monday of the month, 9:00 am to 11:00 am from September through May except during holiday seasons.

Active Docents are entitled to a number of benefits including a tuition waiver for one class each semester at The College of William & Mary, a library card from The College’s Earl Gregg Swem Library with full library privileges, and the opportunity to participate in a number of field trips and special Docent-only events.

How much does it cost?
You will be required to become a member of the Muscarelle Museum of Art.  Membership information can be found here.

How do I become a Docent?
Complete the application form. The docent training team will conduct an interview. We are looking for people who have an interest in and a commitment to the Docent Program.

For further information, please contact museum@wm.edu or call 757.221.2703.

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