Teachers, Guides, Interpreters

The Docents at the University of Michigan Museum of Art engage the community and each other in the exploration and enjoyment of art. They bring art to life for thousands of visitors each year. 

What is a Docent?

As tour guides and gallery interpreters, docents bring art to life for thousands of visitors each year. Docents guide visitors toward a personal connection with art as they create an inviting and interactive environment where individual discovery and a deeper appreciation and understanding can occur. Docents talk with each other and patrons about art and life, they inquire into the history of art, and they engage their imagination every day. 

What do UMMA Docents do?

Design and deliver tours for museum visitors of all ages, particularly young students in grades K–6.

Serve as hosts to museum visitors. Docents expand the reach and influence of the museum by increasing public awareness and appreciation of the museum, its collections, special exhibitions, events, and programs.

Attend workshops and training sessions to stay up-to-date on the collections, special exhibitions, and strategies for effective gallery teaching.

Participate in project groups, serve on committees, and accept positions on the Docent Board.

Are Docents Art History Experts?

No. A background in art, art history, or teaching is not required to become a successful docent.

Docents at UMMA undergo training that is experiential, practical, and conceptual. Trainees observe experienced docents, learn the history of selected objects, and create sample tours. They learn the art and art history of the UMMA collections (strengths are African, American, Asian, and European art), age-appropriate touring techniques, gallery teaching strategies, a variety of learning styles, and museum operations as needed.  

Docents are required to make a commitment to three years of volunteer service, the training year being the first year of commitment. Most docents remain in the program after the initial three years. Mary Paul Stubbs is UMMA's most senior touring docent, active since the third class of docents at UMMA in 1981-82. 

Group Tours at UMMA

Learn more about options for exploring our collection during your visit

"The docents as a group were very well informed and were very capable in drawing my students into discussion and observations regarding the various works of art. Thank you all for bringing art to life for our students!"

-6th Grade Educator