Michigan Historical Museum Volunteer Program/Docent Guild

A volunteer (far right) interacts with visitors in the Pre-Contact gallery.

How can I get involved?
What qualifications do I need?
How do I sign up?
What are the training requirements?
What are the benefits of becoming a volunteer or a docent?

The Michigan Historical Center (MHC) offers volunteer opportunities in key roles such as museum docents, tour guides, collections cataloguing and other services that support the museum's programs. MHC volunteers are eligible for a variety of discounts and continuing education as thanks for supporting one of the state's leading history museums.

How can I get involved?

Become a Volunteer

Volunteers work behind the scenes in many aspects of the MHC's daily activities—from research to marketing and everything in between. Volunteer Positions are available in the following areas:

  • Collections
  • Visitor Services and Store
  • Special Events
  • Marketing
Become a Docent

Docents are volunteers who receive additional training so they can interpret artifacts, lead tours and present educational programs. In this way, docents provide visitors with a greater understanding and appreciation of the museum's collections and exhibits.

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What qualifications do I need?

Successful candidates for all volunteer categories:

  • Are at least 16 years old
  • Communicate effectively with both children and adults
  • Exhibit strong interpersonal and organizational skills
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm, a positive attitude, good judgment and flexibility
  • Appreciate history—particularly Michigan History
  • Work well independently and in teams
  • Have adequate time available to fulfill their commitment
Docents must be able to communicate effectively with people of diverse interests, backgrounds and ages. They should be willing to accept new challenges and to seek out information to answer visitor questions and satisfy their own curiosity.

Individuals who have an interest in community service, history and the general public are welcomed. We especially encourage to apply those who have any of the following:

  • undergraduate or graduate work in museum studies/history or early childhood/elementary education
  • classroom teaching experience or professional/volunteer experience in nontraditional education
  • knowledge of or interest in inquiry-based learning
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How do I sign up?

Candidates are accepted on the basis of:

  • A completed volunteer application form (download the application in PDF format)
  • A personal interview conducted by members of the staff and/or the docent recruitment committee
  • A completed background check
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What are the training requirements?

Candidates are asked to attend the following training sessions:

Initial Volunteer Orientation (all applicants)

Attendance at volunteer orientation is mandatory for all volunteers and docents for the Michigan Historical Museum and the Archives of Michigan. In this session, volunteers will learn about:
  • the MHC's history and mission
  • emergency procedures
  • key staff members
  • expectations
  • etiquette for all volunteers
  • benefits of volunteering
  • the steps toward becoming a docent
See the current training schedule.

Docent Group Sessions

There are four group learning sessions that are a required part of the docent training process. These sessions are held twice a year. Each session will last about two hours. For each session, trainee docents will receive an outline of material covered as well as suggestions for further reading. Some sessions may also involve brief homework assignments. The sessions provide information on the museum's galleries, collections and educational programs; education theory; and presentation techniques.

See the current training schedule.

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What are the benefits of becoming a volunteer or a docent?

As a volunteer or docent, you will enjoy:

  • The satisfaction of learning and sharing knowledge
  • Meeting other people who share your interests
  • Learning about the work that happens behind the scenes at the Michigan Historical Center
Also, you will be eligible for discounts and training:
  • A 10% discount at the Museum Store and at all other affiliated gift shops across the state
  • Free admission to the Michigan Historical Museum
  • Free parking at the Michigan Historical Museum
  • One free guided tour per year for the group of the docent's choosing
  • Educational training sessions
  • Minimal or no cost opportunities for onsite studies and field trips to enhance knowledge in historical subjects
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Updated 07/23/2015