What does a docent do?
A docent is a volunteer gallery educator. At the MFAH, our dynamic docent corps helps to create and facilitate conversation-based tours in the Museum’s galleries. There are currently 160 docents at the Museum leading tours for tens of thousands of visitors every year. Our 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 in Fall of 2019 will commit to lead 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, we ask that all new docents commit to remaining in the program for a minimum of three years. 

Although MFAH docents come from all walks of life, they share a few common traits; each of our 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 2018

What qualities are you 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, please send an email to docents@mfah.org. We will make sure that you are notified once we begin accepting applications for our new training class and inform you about upcoming application dates. You must send an email to docents@mfah.org and attend a recruiting event in order to submit an application. Please note that we cannot accept early applications.

After completing your application, you will have an interview with Museum staff. At the conclusion of the interviews, the new docent training class will be selected based on a demonstrated commitment to collaborative learning, an openness to multiple perspectives, the ability to communicate with energy and diplomacy as well as 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 docent application process 
  • Complete the training process
  • Commit to serving as a docent for 3 years and maintain a museum membership
  • Comply with all policies and practices established by the Museum

Additionally, successful docent candidates will:

  • 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:

August:

  • Informational session about the MFAH docent program
  • Applications distributed after attendance
  • Applicants selected for interviews with Staff
  • Candidates selected based on interviews

September:

  • Fall training session begins September 17, 2019

More volunteering opportunities
Our two house museums, Bayou Bend and Rienzi, have independent 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, please contact volunteers@mfah.org or 713.639.7507.