Oriental Institute Volunteer Program
Docents are volunteers who conduct tours for visitors of all ages and diverse backgrounds. Utilizing the techniques of dialogue and inquiry, the docents encourage exploration and interpretation of the exhibitions of the Oriental Institute Museum.
- Learn about the history of the ancient Near East
- Learn about and implement current educational theory and pedagogy
- Gain skills in working with people of all ages and interests
- Work with others as part of a motivated and dedicated team
- Serve as Oriental Institute Ambassadors
It is the goal of the Oriental Institute Volunteer Program to offer a flexible yet rigorous docent training program. We understand that potential candidates lead busy lives, so we offer multiple ways to learn about our Museum and its collection.
An 8-week training session is held each fall with classes on Monday mornings and some Saturdays. Monthly object-based gallery talks are offered during the lunch hour on the first Thursday of the month and may count toward your training. We require attendance at a minimum of eight training opportunities – which can be the full 8-week fall training sessions or a combination of some the 8-week fall sessions with some Thursday gallery talks. (If your schedule does not permit you to attend all eight Monday/Saturday workshops in the fall, please speak with the Volunteer Manager and Sponsor to work out a specific training regiment.)
- Docents learn to conduct tours offered by the Museum for children (8-18) years and adults. Trainees receive a solid background and framework in providing tours.
- Participants in the Oriental Institute Docent Training Program are provided an introduction to the history of the Oriental Institute and its collections through lectures, readings, hands on in-gallery workshops, discussions and explorations of exhibitions, connections to proper tour techniques, and education methods and pedagogy.
- Each docent trainee is assigned a sponsor at the beginning of the program. Sponsors are current docents who have volunteered to help mentor a trainee and help guide him or her through the learning process.
- Time is required by trainees, outside of class to complete additional readings and homework.
- Extra time is required outside of the training sessions to practice your tour style.
- When the trainee and sponsor feel that a trainee is ready, they schedule a tour presentation with Education staff and docents. The trainee’s presentation will be evaluated based on 1) Engagement with the audience 2) Use of tour techniques to keep the tour moving and on time, answer visitors’ questions, and keep the audience’s attention 3) Use of objects and themes to convey large concepts and ideas 4) Encourage visitors to use critical thinking skills 5) Knowledge of the content. The evaluation will determine if the trainee is ready to become a certified docent, or if there are areas, which need improvement
- Complete initial training which is either the full 8-week fall training session, or a combination of fall sessions and Thursday gallery talks. Work with Education staff and Sponsor to determine final training regiment.
- Shadowing a minimum of six docent-led tours
- Develop your own tour presented to peers and Education staff
- Attend monthly business meetings and on-going training opportunities
- After the first year, all docents are required to give 18 tours a year, and attend a minimum of six annual training opportunities
- Submit on-line application
- Participate in an on-site interview
- Complete background check
- Email and web access required – will use web-based volunteer scheduling software Volgistics to schedule volunteer shifts and record hours worked
- Have a positive attitude and adhere to the Oriental Institute policies, procedures and guest-service standards
Revised: April 11, 2013