Please contact the Docent Program Manager to add your name to our application waitlist.
Email Katrina Stacy email@example.com or call 508-793-4341.
What are docents?
Docents at the Worcester Art Museum are trained volunteers who share their interest and love of art with Museum visitors. The word docent comes from the Latin word docere, to teach.
What do docents do?
Docents teach in the galleries. They conduct tours of both the Museum's permanent collections and special exhibitions. Tours are both prearranged through the Education Division and drop-in public tours. Tours serve audiences of all ages and interests.
The Museum provides an intensive 18-month training program for persons selected to become docents. This program is historically one day a week for 18 months excluding summers. People interested in applying for a docent training class must be willing to commit to at least two years of active tour-giving beyond the docent training program. Click on the “New Docent Application” link to access the application for the program.
Docent Continuing Education
The Museum is committed to the continuing education of its docents beyond the initial training. Docents attend a formal program of continuing education, 9:30AM – 11am the third Thursday of each month, from September to May. The program includes both lectures, demonstrations and gallery talks by museum professionals and scholars, and is designed to inform docents of topics related to special exhibitions, the permanent collection, and essential skills as communicators/teachers to the gallery public.
A variety of tour opportunities exist within the docent program including school tours, general interest tours, tours of special exhibitions, weekend public tours, specialized tours of the month, tours in collaboration with school partnerships, museum special events and others. On average, 18-20,000 visitors experience the Museum on docent-led tours each year.
In 1970 Richard Muhlberger, Curator of Education, organized a program for Volunteer Gallery instructors in order to expand group tour services. People who expressed an “interest in art and an affection for the Worcester Art Museum” were invited to participate in a thirty-week training program. Classes began the week of September 28, 1970 and in September 1971 the first docent-led tours of the museum were offered.
Mr. Muhlberger also led a second training program in the fall of 1971. There were sixty-two active docents in 1974 when Ellen Berezin organized the third docent training program. Changes in format and content were introduced: classes met for sixteen months; the course syllabus included an in-depth survey of the history of art, methods visual presentation and they study of the Worcester Art Museum collection. In 1987, additional coursework was added to the program by Honee A. Hess to introduce docents to the critical thinking skills necessary to integrate information with the experience of looking at works of art.
Since the first class in 1970, eleven additional docent classes have completed training with the most recent in December 2009. At the 30th anniversary celebration in 2001, the members of the original docent class were named “Docent Emeriti”, an honor that acknowledges they have fulfilled a life-long service commitment to the Museum and exempts them from additional obligation, although many continue as actively give tours. At the 40th anniversary celebration in 2011, a new Conference Room was dedicated through a generous donation by former docent C. Jean & Myles McDonough.
For additional information, please contact:
Katrina Stacy, Associate Curator of Education
Worcester Art Museum
55 Salisbury Street
Worcester MA 01609