Group of MAM docents on a tour of the exhibition "Century: 100 Years of Black Art at MAM" One of the exhibition's co-curators, nico w. okoro is in the foregraound of the image leading the tour.

MAM Docent Program

Montclair Art Museum's Docent Program


If you are a people-person who is passionate about art and wants to share that passion with others, we invite you to join our docent team! 

Montclair Art Museum’s volunteer docent program is ideal for people who want to deepen their relationship with their community, get a deep dive into American art including the art of Native North America, and get the inside scoop about Museum exhibitions from curators and artists. 

Docents come to the program with a range of backgrounds and an art degree is not required. 

Who are we looking for?
  • Warm and welcoming individuals who will be community ambassadors to the museum 
  • Individuals with strong communication skills to help facilitate discussions about artwork and help visitors discover connections between artworks, exhibitions, and their lived experiences
  • Lifelong learners who are ready to take on a challenge and are curious about how other people think about art
  • Individuals who are sensitive to different types of learners, abilities, and neurodiversity 
  • As Docents serve as the face of the museum, we are seeking diverse individuals that reflect our audiences and community 
  • If you are a people-person, we want to meet you!
Docent in the galleries speaking to a tour group made up of young children


“Being a docent is a fun educational experience for me.  I continuously learn about different artists through our various exhibitions.  I love sharing this knowledge with our museum visitors, especially the school groups!” - Myla 

“Viewing MAM’s collection with very young children makes my heart sing and my creative imagination whirl. I believe the joy we experience together will make ‘art lovers’ out of them!” - Ellen

“Becoming a docent was the perfect opportunity for me to combine my love of art with facilitation. To think that I could engage groups and hold conversations about art had me so excited!” - Casey 

“I love giving tours, but I also love learning so much from my other docents! The group is full of teachers, community leaders, and professionals from so many walks of life. My own perspective and approach to arts education has expanded since joining the program.” - Andy


“The group enjoyed the participatory nature of the program, in which the docent asked questions and really made the group think about the art they were seeing.” – Adult Visitor

“The docents interacted with the children and allowed the children to express their impressions of the artwork they saw.” – Preschool Teacher

A group of docents in front of the Hank Willis Thomas Ernest & Ruth sculpture at MAM.

About the Docent Program

MAM docents love spending time with art and want to share that love with diverse audiences. Our visitors include school groups from preschool through college, elders and their caregivers, homeschoolers, scout groups, senior center residents, and visitors of all abilities. 

Docents gain valuable training on museum education pedagogy to facilitate art-viewing experiences, including Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a process developed by educators at MoMA to facilitate meaningful conversations about art with all audiences. We ask questions that bring our visitors, and us, into new conversations about what we see, what we think, and how the art makes us feel—a process that allows everyone, including docents, to see artworks and the art-making process in a new way. Every opinion and perspective is valued! 

Of course, we also provide our docents with foundational information about art-making practices like painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and new media, and background information about artists represented in the collection and in our exhibitions. But our docents are not required to be art history experts or lecturers as much as facilitators, guides, and lovers of learning! 

Docent benefits at a glance:

  • An opportunity to provide valuable community service at the Museum
  • Affiliation with a leading visual art museum 
  • Camaraderie that comes with volunteering with like-minded people
  • Ongoing professional development training in museum education and art education, including training sessions with curators, exhibiting artists, and guest speakers such as arts professionals and university professors
  • Free admission to selected MAM events, lectures, and public programs (excludes fundraising events and rentals)
  • Opportunity to bring two guests per visit to view the MAM galleries for free (excludes public programs and events)
  • 20% discount on Museum merchandise at the store and 10% on consignment merchandise
  • Free or discounted admission to other museums with MAM Docent ID badge
  • Borrowing privileges at Montclair State University Library
  • Field Trips to other arts organizations and social events with other Docents

What is the commitment?

Docents volunteer about 100 service hours per year in providing tours and participating in trainings, as well as doing independent research and outreach, going on field trips to other museums, and at social gatherings with other member of the docent community.

Here is a breakdown of those service hours:

  • The Museum provides about 40 hours of training each year on alternating weeks from September through June. Topics include: conversations with curators about upcoming exhibitions, artist talks with exhibiting artists, best practices in tour facilitation, and trainings on the topics of diversity, equity, inclusion and access as related to tours.
  • New docents will be required to attend 24 additional hours of training, including museum pedagogy, and VTS practice sessions with other new docents.
  • We require each docent to give approximately 3 tours per month from September through June (about 60 hours for tours per year). Tours take place primarily during weekday mornings, with periodic afternoons and weekends.
  • New docents will also be partnered with an experienced docent to be mentored. Shadowing existing docents for the first few months is an invaluable tool in developing your confidence and personal tour style!
  • Docents are required to join the membership program at MAM starting at $35 annually. Docents can join at the artist/student level or above. If membership is a financial burden, accommodations can be made. 


Montclair Art Museum has been collecting, preserving, and showing Native American and American artwork since 1914. MAM stewards more than 12,000 works, including painting, works on paper, ceramics, basketry, sculpture, beadwork, and more. We take pride in exhibition artwork that reflects the racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, and philosophical diversity of our community. Among the artists represented in our collection are: Romare Bearden, Mickalene Thomas, Jaune Quick-to-See-Smith, Ben Jones, Willie Cole, Dawoud Bey, Kay WalkingStick, Kehinde Wiley, Siona Benjamin, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Lorna Simpson, Philemona Williamson, Carrie Mae Weems, Jody Folwell, Nick Cave, Whitfield Lovell, Cara Romero, Federico Uribe, Virgil Ortiz, George Inness.

This fall we will be opening a major reinstallation of our Native American art collection in newly renovated galleries, showcasing historical and contemporary artwork including new acquisitions and commissions by Indigenous artists  We have collaborated with Indigenous communities and knowledge keepers on display and interpretation, centering Native American voices and perspectives, and are working with educational partners to position MAM as a key resource in teaching Native American topics to New Jersey students.


Docents play a key role in upholding the Museum’s mission in serving our community as follows.

Museum Mission:

Through art, we create experiences that inspire, challenge, and foster community to shape our shared future.

The Montclair Art Museum collects, exhibits, preserves, and interprets American and Native American art, honoring the creative accomplishments of a diverse range of artists, past and present.

Our vision and values guide our actions:

  • Respect – We care for the works in our collection, artistic expression, the land and environment, and the people we serve.
  • Collaboration - Through partnerships with artists, scholars, community members, and institutions, we ensure that our collective work reflects diverse perspectives, input, and expertise.
  • Engagement and Education – Through exhibitions; family, student, and public programs; and studio art classes, we cultivate creativity and personal expression, and spark critical conversations and learning for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Inclusion – We strive to create an accessible and welcoming environment that fosters open dialogue and empathy for all.


As an anchor institution in our community and a leader in our field, the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) is committed to supporting and expanding the principles of diversity, equity, accessibility, inclusion, and social justice through all of its actions, including its administrative, curatorial, educational, and human capital policies, practices, and programming; the composition of its staff, leadership, Board of Trustees, instructors, and volunteer corps; and its advocacy and engagement with the community.

Further, we recognize that in addition to being unequivocal in our stance against racism, bias, and microaggressions in all forms in our organization, we can and should do more. We welcome the role the arts can play as a medium of observation, insight, education, articulation, and advocacy. As such, we seek to provide a platform for focusing on challenging social issues through art and serving as a convener and engaged community advocate in addressing these challenges.