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Georgia Museum of Art

Do you know what a docent is? These specialized museum volunteers who serve as tour guides for many visitors, including Athens-Clarke County fifth-graders. The word comes from “docere," Latin for “to teach.” Docents are a common feature of many museums. At our museum, docents participate in a training program, mostly meeting on Monday mornings to learn about the museum’s collection, temporary exhibition and, most important, how to give an engaging tour. Although the word means “teach,” one of the most important skills for a docent is listening. Our docents don’t give dry art history lectures. Instead, they invite visitors to share their own perspectives and ask questions, creating a collaborative learning experience in the galleries.

The Georgia Museum of Art has both community docents and student docents. Community docents are adults from the Athens community. Student docents attend the University of Georgia and use their free time to lead these tours and engage with their community, gaining public speaking skills, experiential learning credit and teaching experience, all while giving back to the community. The program requires a 1-year commitment for students and 2 years for community members, and docents lead many of the museum’s weekly tours that take place every Wednesday at 2 p.m. as well as other special tours. No art history background is required, just an enthusiasm for art and our visitors.

If being a docent at the Georgia Museum of Art interests you, you can find out more at Georgiamuseum.org/learn.

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