Docent volunteers at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art are a deeply committed group of volunteers whose service to the museum dates back to the first year it was open. Starting in 1934, Docents offered tours for school groups, planting the seed of an ongoing relationship with art for many generations of students.
Today, docents engage with visitors of all ages and backgrounds. They help deepen visitors’ museum experience by facilitating tours that share their enthusiasm for art and engage in conversations that help offer understanding and meaning. Their primary responsibility is to provide tour experiences for school groups, grades 2–12, that expand students’ learning from the classroom to the museum and help them make personal connections with original works of art.
Training includes education methodology, touring techniques and strategies, and art history content. In the first year, docents-in-training learn the background and skills for providing tours to student groups while focusing on art history content for the highest-attended school tours. Additional content and tours are learned in a second year of training.
Class meets on Mondays, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., September through May in the first year and September through March in the second year. Docents-in-training are expected to give additional time to shadowing and giving tours twice each month, as well as to independent study.
Once graduated, docents are required to give 24 tours each year.
Continuing education takes place throughout a docent’s career with ongoing requirements and opportunities to learn innovative strategies, updated scholarship and new tours.
Docent volunteer service occurs on weekdays, with occasional evening and weekend hours.
Docent volunteer recruitment is not open at this time.