Docent Program

Newfields docents are trained volunteer educators interested in leading groups of visitors through the Newfields' permanent collection and featured exhibitions. Docents lead visitors of all ages on tours designed to expand the visitors’ experience with an appreciation for art.

Additional opportunities for docents include serving as outreach ambassadors to inform the community about the Newfields collection, taking art projects to local children’s hospitals, participating in special events such as Martin Luther King Day, facilitating public programs, and engaging in continuing education training specifically for docents.

Rewards of being a docent

  • A docent has the opportunity to become a more effective communicator and educator.
  • The docent program helps docents develop reading, research, and analytical skills.
  • As a facilitator between the art and the Newfields visitors, docents have exciting opportunities to share ideas and experiences with interested students and adults.
  • Docents provide valuable service to the Museum and to the wider community by volunteering their time to make Newfields accessible and inviting to diverse audiences.

Docent Training

No prior education or experience in art is necessary for the docent class. Docent training includes the following components:

  • Study of historical and cultural context in which art was created
  • Study and practice of Visual Thinking Strategies, a discussion facilitation technique
  • Completion of projects and presentations designed to practice tour preparation and to promote effective interactive touring skills
  • Pairing of docent students with experienced docents for one-on-one mentoring

Docent training also includes talks by Newfields curators, outside specialists, gallery sessions with experienced docents, and readings from various sources.

Docent training is usually one half day per week for approximately nine months followed by additional on-the-job training. Docent students should also plan to spend some individual time on research, reading assignments, and tour preparation.

While docent training is free, students are asked to purchase books for the class at a cost of approximately $100. All docents are required to maintain a Newfields membership.


After training, docents are asked to commit to an additional three-year term in the docent program and complete a minimum of 30 tour hours per year. Docents are also asked to attend seven monthly All-Docent meetings and complete three Continuing Docent Education programs each year.

To Become a Docent

For more information about the docent program, please email the Docent Chair at or leave a message at 317-923-1331, ext. 229.