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Michigan Historical Museum Docent Guild

Docents help visitors explore the Michigan Historical Museum exhibits. The word "docent" is derived from the Latin word docere, which means "to teach."

Docent with school groupWhat is my commitment?

The Michigan Historical Museum relies on docent assistance seven days a week. Scheduling is flexible, allowing convenient hours for docents who are employed. Most docents volunteer for a three-hour shift either weekly or every other week. After you complete your training (see the next docent training schedule), we ask you to volunteer 100 hours of service each year.

As a candidate, you will participate in hands-on training in the museum galleries. Training is offered twice a year. Mentoring by experienced docents will introduce you to the "on-floor" experience. You will have the opportunity to attend continuing education programs that keep you up-to-date about new exhibits and Michigan history.

Other volunteer opportunities for docents include helping in the Museum Store and working on special projects.

How do I become a docent?

The process begins with completion of a brief application. Interviews are scheduled prior to the start of training in September and February. A background check is also part of the process.

Docent training takes place in five sessions here at the museum, Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m. The next training series begins February 27, 2014.

You can begin the process of becoming a docent right now by printing the docent application [PDF]

What are the benefits of volunteering as a docent?

You will receive free parking and specialized educational training. There are social gatherings and opportunities for leadership through committees and on the docent guild board. After completing your training, you will receive a 10% discount on all purchases at the Museum Store locations throughout the state.

What qualifications do I need?

The most successful docents have:

  • A deep interest in Michigan history,
  • A desire to share their enthusiasm with the public,
  • The ability to speak clearly before a group,
  • The ability and willingness to lead tours appropriate for children and
  • Adequate time to fulfill this commitment.

Docent Barb Powers and students discuss the purpose of a rug beater.Knowledge of-and interest in-arts and crafts (such as dolls, quilts, china, painting and woodworking), archaeology, labor unions, mining, lumbering, geology, early vehicle manufacture, farming, period clothing or a special knowledge regarding any Michigan minority community are useful, but not required. Those with a general interest in Michigan history are welcome, too!

Contact the Michigan Historical Museum.

Updated 01/30/2014

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