- The word “docent” (pronounced doe-sent) is derived from the Latin word docere, meaning ‘to teach’. Docents are trained by museum staff to act as guides, interpreters, community representatives, and much more!
- Docents are essential to the educational mission of Philbrook. They are enthusiastic volunteers who share their passion for art, history, and gardens to connect our visitors to the museum.
Becoming a Docent
If you have an interest in art and enjoy communicating with people, you can be a Philbrook Docent!
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WHAT IS A DOCENT?
WHAT DO PHILBROOK DOCENTS DO?
- Docents use different engagement techniques to start conversations about art, culture, history, and the world around us. They help visitors think critically and creatively while connecting them to the collection, the gardens, and each other.
- Docents represent the museum at outreach events including festivals, block parties, art fairs, and other community gatherings with partner organizations.
- Some docents sit on the IDEA Subcommittee- an internal group dedicated to promoting policies that encourage inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility within the volunteer core. They meet once a month throughout the fall and spring.
- Some docents have leadership positions on the Docent Council. The council organizes recreational events and outings, distributes an internal newsletter, and advises on tour and program functions.
- Docents help with museum programs and events as greeters, wayfinders, or an extra pair of hands where needed.
- Docents participate in ongoing trainings about the museum’s collections, special exhibitions, the gardens, visitor engagement, and so much more!
WHO CAN BECOME A DOCENT?
- Anyone with a passion for art, history, gardens, and a desire to inspire is welcome. There are no educational or professional requirements for becoming a docent. Docents will be trained by museum staff on everything they need to know. We encourage all who are interested to apply.
- Philbrook respects, values, and celebrates the unique attributes, characteristics, and perspectives that make each person who they are. We believe that our chief strength lies in human diversity, both within our organization and among the clients and communities with whom we engage. We seek out diversity of participation, thought, and action, and work affirmatively and strategically to be inclusive. For us, diversity, equity, and inclusion are drivers of organizational excellence.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING A DOCENT?
- Docents receive specialized training by museum staff and professional speakers. Those who complete the training will emerge with a comprehensive understanding of the museum’s collections as well as practical skills in public engagement, community outreach, and best practices in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.
- Docents are invited to special events and parties throughout the year in addition to an annual volunteer recognition luncheon. We emphasize community building as much as continued education. Philbrook is a place to make lifelong friendships and to be a part of an amazing team.
HOW DO I BECOME A DOCENT?
- Complete the Docent Application form (link available at the bottom of the page). You will be sent a copy of the Docent Handbook, a detailed training schedule, and an invitation to the annual recruitment event. Training will take place from September to May.
Requirements to graduate from the docent program need to be completed between September and May:
- Attend all trainings in person or virtually
- Attend at least one Docent Council meeting and one IDEA (Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility) Subcommittee meeting in person or virtually
- Shadow docent tours in the museum for all ages (six tours minimum)
- Shadow at least 3 different docents to see the diverse range of skills and strategies employed at the museum
- Plan two tours with a docent mentor – one for children and one for adults
- Attend new docent/mentor tour group practice sessions (once a month in the spring)
- Progressively present tour stops (from one stop to a full tour) with a docent mentor for the public
IS THERE A COST/TIME COMMITMENT TO BE A DOCENT?
- There is no cost or fee to be a docent at Philbrook. Docents are not required to give a certain number of hours to stay in the program after graduating to active status. Some volunteer a few hours each month while others are here several days of the week.
- Volunteer opportunities are available during the work week, select evenings, and weekends.
- New docents are asked to attend 2-3 trainings each month from September to May. Each training is one and a half hours long. Recordings are offered in the form of video links to increase access to the program.
- Over the course of a year, the total time commitment for trainings is 24-33 hours. Additional requirements including meetings, tour shadowing, and practice tours are estimated up to 19 more hours of your time. This equates to 4-5 hours of your time each month.
WHAT FLEXIBILITY CAN I EXPECT AS A DOCENT?
- We understand that each docent has different skills and needs. Our docent training program is offered both in-person and via recordings so all can learn at their own pace. Upon becoming a docent, there is no minimum amount of hours required to stay in the program.
- Docents choose to volunteer with the tour groups, events, and programs that best suit them. They are never assigned work.
- What accessibility options are there for docents?
Touring docents with physical or mobility concerns can give stationed tours, remaining in one room or outdoor area while tour groups cycle through. Docents can use stools or chairs during these tours. Seating can be provided during events and festivals as needed.
If you have additional questions about accessibility at Philbrook, please contact Melissa Ski at email@example.com or 918-748-5309.
WHAT SUPPORT WILL I RECEIVE AS A DOCENT?
- Docent Mentors will be assigned to incoming docents at the start of the program. Mentors help create a warm and welcoming environment for new recruits, monitor their progress in the program, and offer their advice and experience throughout the first year.
- The Manager of Tours and School Programs (Melissa Ski) is the primary contact and staff liaison for the docents. Melissa oversees the program and maintains an open door policy for any questions, concerns, or suggestions from the docent core.
TRAINING SCHEDULE 2022-23
- All trainings are on Mondays from 10:00-11:30 a.m.
- New Docent trainings are scheduled on the following dates in 2022: 9/12, 9/26, 10/3, 10/17, 11/7, 11/21, and 12/5. Trainings will resume on the following dates in 2023: 1/9, 1/30, 2/6, 2/27, 3/6, 3/20, 4/3, 4/17, and 5/1.
- New Docents are encouraged to attend Active Docent trainings. These are scheduled on the following dates in 2022: 9/19, 10/10, 11/14, and 12/12. Active Docent trainings will resume on the following dates in 2023: 1/23, 2/13, 3/13, 4/10, and 5/8.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Those interested in the program are welcome to sit in on meetings and trainings to assess whether the program is a good fit for them. Please contact Melissa Ski with any questions (firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-748-5309.)