Docents at the MFAH
What does a docent do?
A docent is a volunteer gallery educator. At the MFAH, the dynamic docent corps helps to create and facilitate conversation-based tours in the Museum’s galleries. About 160 docents lead tours for tens of thousands of visitors every year. Docents provide an invaluable service to the community, especially the students who are often visiting the Museum for the first time.
Docents entering the training program for fall 2020 commit to leading K–12 school tours. A background in art history is not required. Spanish-English bilingual skills are helpful, but not required. Due to the substantial investment in training, new docents are asked to remain in the program for a minimum of three years.
Although MFAH docents come from all walks of life, they share a few common traits. Docent volunteers are curious, passionate about volunteering, flexible and open to feedback, and enjoy interacting with students from all over Houston.
“It has been a pleasure to be given the object-based learning methodology and tools, and spending time with the students around art has brought me so much joy! I am forever grateful for this experience and hope to continue my docent practice for years to come. I only hope the students can benefit as much as I am. Thank you for bringing us together in this awesome environment.” —Docent, Class of 2018
What qualities is the Museum looking for?
An ideal candidate for the docent program:
- Demonstrates a strong interest in community service and volunteerism
- Wants to act as a mediator between objects and the public
- Can be a flexible thinker, especially when confronted with difficult or sensitive ideas
- Demonstrates a positive attitude
How can I apply to become a docent?
Anyone is welcome to apply. All applicants should be available during business hours, Monday–Friday, for training and leading K–12 tours. If you are interested in applying to the docent program, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so you can be notified about application dates and procedures. In order to submit an application, you first need to send the email and attend a recruiting event. Please note that early applications cannot be accepted.
After completing your application, you have an interview with Museum staff. At the conclusion of the interviews, the new docent training class is selected based on commitment to collaborative learning; openness to multiple perspectives; ability to communicate with energy and diplomacy; and demonstrating a growth mindset through constructive feedback.
Expectations for Docents
MFAH docent candidates are expected to:
- Submit to a background check as part of the application process
- Complete the training process
- Maintain an MFAH membership
- Commit to serving as a docent for 3 years
- Comply with all policies and practices established by the Museum
Additionally, successful docent candidates:
- Enjoy working with a team
- Are flexible and dependable
- Are able to solve problems efficiently
- Are comfortable with public speaking
- Are capable of physical activity, including standing, kneeling, and bending for long periods of time
What to expect when applying:
- Informational session about the MFAH docent program
- Applications distributed after attendance
- Applicants selected for interviews
- Candidates selected based on interviews
- Fall training session begins September 9, 2020
More Volunteering Opportunities
The two MFAH house museums—Bayou Bend and Rienzi—also have docent programs that would benefit from your support.
You may also be interested in the wide array of other volunteering opportunities at the MFAH. For more information about volunteering at the Museum, contact email@example.com or 713.639.7507.