“The payment I get is enrichment, socially and intellectually,”
Davis said. “At the same time, I’m able to give back to my
The Toledo Museum of Art is recruiting a new class of volunteer
educators, known as docents, to join the ranks of more than 100
others. Docents enroll part-time in 18 months of training in art
history, visual literacy and public speaking, with summers off.
Upon graduation, they become an integral part of the Museum,
leading nearly 50,000 people annually on tours of its collection
and teaching visitors how to see better using the principles of
Those interested are invited to attend free informational
sessions on becoming a docent on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 1:30 p.m.
or Friday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Museum’s Little Theater.
While docents often serve community visitors to the Museum, they
also participate in some of its most-recognized public
programming, like baby tours. Their role in art education
initiatives makes them an essential part of fulfilling the
Museum’s mission, according to Kathy Danko-McGhee, Ph.D.,
the Emma Leah Bippus director of education.
“Docents are really the face of the Museum and through them, the
collection comes alive,” Danko-McGhee said. “Their commitment is
truly remarkable. They create those ‘aha!’ moments for visitors
that allow them to engage with the art.”
The docent program is nearly as old as the 113-year-old Museum.
Its origins are in a less formal assistant volunteer group,
identified by their blue badges, which began in 1914. Starting
in 1947, then-assistant director Otto Wittmann began the
official program, with nine community members conducting tours
for more than 13,000 visitors during its initial two years.
Annual social events and day trips to museums in the region
began in the 1970s, providing an added layer of enrichment for
participants. And in 1989, the Museum welcomed docents from
across the United States and Canada when it hosted the National
For docents like Davis, that historical significance combined
with the social and educational elements make it a rewarding
“This is a nationally known institution,” she said. “It’s fun to
be part of one of the shining stars in our city.”
For more information, contact Docent Coordinator Paula
Brown-Gray by phone at 419-255-8000 ext. 7514 or via email