The role of MWPAI’s docents is to perform one of the most important and far-reaching functions in the museum: introducing and deepening the experience of the exhibitions for tour groups of all ages. It is a stimulating experience for both visitors and guides, and is an essential part of a museum’s education program.
A background in art, art history, art education or docent training is helpful, but not required. Most importantly, we are looking for individuals with an enthusiasm for sharing our collection with the public.
We emphasize an interactive, conversational approach to interpreting the museum’s collection as opposed to a lecturing style. Docents may make themselves available for touring according to their schedule but we ask that the docent lead a minimum of 20 tours per year. Tours are offered Tuesday – Sunday throughout the day and last between 1-2 hours and include walking between buildings and climbing stairs. Docents are expected to work with all age groups from Pre-K to Adult. If you work fulltime or are away for the majority of the year, it may be difficult to participate in the ongoing education and preparation for new exhibitions.
The Museum of Art Education Department is accepting applications through March 3 for the docent-training program, which will begins in April. All interested individuals are invited to apply to be a docent. Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute encourages and welcomes a diversity of opinions and backgrounds to help us cultivate an exciting and enthusiastic corps of guides from all walks of life.
After the initial applications are reviewed, candidates are invited to meet with the education staff. A successful applicant will then become a probationary candidate pending a trial presentation before the Museum Education staff. This presentation is scripted, and strictly limited to the materials provided to the candidate. While the primary concern of this presentation is determining the candidate’s comfort with public speaking, the exercise also provides an insight into our touring techniques.
Docent Training at MWPAI
Once accepted into the program, the candidate will commit to one year of training with the docent trainer to become familiar with the permanent collection and interactive training technique. After a series of trial presentations for museum educators and current docents, the candidate is accepted into the docent corps. Docent training consists of approximately 24 sessions and trainees are expected to attend all lessons with reasonable efforts made to accommodate the candidates’ schedules. Training is usually scheduled on alternate Mondays in the museum galleries from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., with occasional meetings during the week. Training consists of gaining an understanding of artists’ styles and the history of 19th-century fine art and decorative arts, Modern and Contemporary fine art, and interactive touring techniques to prepare the trainee to interpret the exhibitions for museum visitors.
Although past coursework in art or art history or docent training is not required to start the program, it is strongly recommended that docents complete one year of an art history survey to complement their training. Additional post-training is provided through docent briefings held on Monday mornings and periodic docent professional reviews conducted every two years, allowing docents to continue to improve their touring techniques.
There is no training fee for this program; however, docents must be museum members and be reasonably able to commit a minimum of two years to the program.
MWPAI docents are dedicated, respected, and an extremely talented group. We very much look forward to your application to this program and thank you for your interest.
For more information or questions about accessing the current docent website, please contact
Meg Gianetti at (315) 797-0000, ext. 2146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.