What is a docent?
Birmingham Museum of Art docents play a key role in fulfilling the Museum's commitment to the community. Docents are trained to facilitate tours of Museum galleries that provide art experience for visitors of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. About 80% of docent-led tours at the BMA are for children and students. Docents share their deep passion for art, culture, and learning to help all Museum visitors connect with objects and experience the magic of art.
What do docents get from the experience?
Docents derive personal satisfaction from helping Museum visitors to understand and to appreciate art and its importance to culture and values. Docents benefit by learning from top curators, educators, scholars, and other docents. They gain access to special docent-only gallery talks, Museum programs, and behind-the-scenes tours. Docents meet interesting people, make new friends, contribute to the education of children, and become part of the docent community.
Is being a docent a good fit for you?
The BMA welcomes volunteers and offers a variety of opportunities for service. There are, however, specific requirements, skills, and commitments for docents. The information below can help you decide if becoming a docent works with your interests, talents, and availability.
What Commitment Do I Need to Make?
- Agree to a minimum two-year commitment (including training year)
- Successfully complete the one-year new-docent training program
- Participate in mandatory docent training (Mondays 9:30am - 12 noon, August - May)
- Conduct at least 15 tours each year
What Are Docents’ Interests?
- Facilitating conversations about art objects in a museum environment
- Creating dynamic learning experiences with diverse groups of children, students, and adults
- Studying a wide range of objects and cultures represented in the Museum’s collection
- Engaging and inspiring Museum visitors by sharing a deep passion for art
- Contributing ideas to improve tours and visitor experiences
What Skills and Abilities Do I Need?
- Clearly communicate and connect with visitors from diverse backgrounds
- Facilitate group experiences with small and large groups
- Follow structured, time-limited tour outlines and routes as part of a team
- Have the physical ability to lead hour-long tours and move around Museum galleries and hallways on a tight schedule
- Display sound judgment and discretion in performing tasks with minimal supervision
- Be dependable and flexible
Candidates with foreign-language skills, American Sign Language ability, or prior work with people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.