wikiHow to Become a Museum Docent

A docent is a guide or lecturer at a museum, art gallery or zoo. Docents at a museum typically train, study and lead tours for children and adults. You do not have to be a historian, but teaching and public speaking experience can help you to get a museum guide position. Docent work is typically done on a voluntary basis, but is also an excellent resume or curriculum vitae builder. It shows you are comfortable with public speaking, study and memorization. It may also help put you ahead of other candidates if you are looking for a paid museum job in the future. This article will tell you how to become a museum docent.


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    Identify the type of museum where you would like to lead tours. Is it an art museum, a science museum or a natural history museum? Since docent positions are held by volunteers, you should be interested in the subject before you apply for the position.
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    Check listings in your local area for museums in your discipline of choice.
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    Call or go online to request information about the museum's docent program. Most larger museums have a volunteer coordinator who may wish to give details on the program and make an appointment to meet with you.
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    Do some research on the topics of the museum's permanent exhibits.
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    Interview with the museum of your choice for the docent position.
    • Museums are looking for good-natured, outgoing people who are comfortable with public speaking. They are also looking for a person who is assertive enough to speak loudly and lead a group through a potentially crowded museum.
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    Take a tour with a museum docent. This will help you get a good idea of what you will be asked to do. Take notes, if you believe it will help you.
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    Train on the exhibits you will be asked to guide through. If there are training sessions, most docent programs require that people attend all of their training sessions.
    • Memorize important dates and information, then practice giving a tour. Docents who have an air of spontaneity are very successful because it is more fun for the listener.
    • Have a friend to ask you questions about the exhibit, so that you can become comfortable with the material.
    • Learn the museum's policies as well. Many museums do not allow food or beverages and some exhibits do not allow photography. You may have to enforce these policies.
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    Lead a trial tour with the head docent. The docent may take notes while you are leading the tour, but do not be discouraged, these will help you with your tours. If you pass this test, schedule your first tour with the museum.
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    Conduct your first tour.
    • Engage your group in conversation to get comfortable. Make eye contact. Do not speak too quickly and pause between sentences.
    • Move slowly through the museum, stopping to ensure everyone is with you before continuing onto the next topic. Never speak as you lead the group; it is difficult for people behind you to hear.
    • Ask your group if they have any questions at the end of the tour.
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    Schedule regular docent tours with the museum. You may either be asked to lead a tour at a specific time every week or be available during a set number of hours each week in case a group schedules a tour.
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    Train and study for new exhibits as needed.


  • Always dress according to the museum employee's dress code. Museum's usually require business or business casual attire, which does not include denim. Wear shoes that you are comfortable standing in for long periods of time.

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