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Michigan Historical Museum Docent Guild

Docents and Volunteers

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 offers volunteer opportunities in key roles such as museum tour guides, collections cataloguing and other services that support the museum's programs. Michigan Historical Center 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

Support volunteers work behind the scenes in all 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

The word docent derives from the Latin word docere, meaning "to teach." The docent's role is one of teacher, interpreter and guide. Our docent volunteers are the voice and face of the Michigan Historical Museum to the visiting public. Docents interpret the artifacts, lead tours and present educational programs, thus providing the visitor 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)
  • Personal interviews 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
Next orientation: Wednesday, September 24, 2014, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Docent Group Sessions

There are four group learning sessions that are a required part of the docent training process. These sessions will be held in the four weeks directly following the Initial Volunteer Orientation. 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 touring techniques.

Next docent training Wednesday, October 1, 8, 15 and 22, 2014, from 2 to 4 p.m.

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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:
Discounts
  • 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
Training
  • 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 08/28/2014




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