Plattsburgh State Art Museum volunteer docents are an essential part of our museum community. You not only learn about the art and the history of collections, but you will play a special role by helping visitors discover something new each time they come to the museum.
Mutually, the museum strives to provide you with a meaningful and rewarding learning experience. Volunteering at PSAM helps you connect with a dynamic group of art enthusiasts who have a genuine interest in engaging with the public, love education, and have a desire to support their community. Join us today!
The Mission of the PSAM Docent Program
The mission of the PSAM Docent Program is to provide the campus community and the public with well-trained docents who will uphold the educational mission of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum and the college. By educating visitors about our collection, their understanding of art will be enhanced, thereby increasing their awareness of and appreciation for art.
The docent’s primary responsibilities are to assist in fulfilling the mission of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum and to promote interest in the arts. These are accomplished by serving as a gallery docent, conducting tours as needed and interpreting exhibits. Active docents are expected to commit to 4 hours a month unless other arrangements are made with the museum office. In addition, docents are strongly encouraged to attend the regular docent meetings/classes, which are held in the fall and the spring from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.
Additional Docent Responsibilities
- Research and prepare specific programs upon the requests.
- Promote PSAM programs within the community.
- Attend exhibit openings and gallery talks.
- Work on special events and/or committees.
- Assist in special research projects on aspects of the museum’s permanent collection.
Docent Program Information
What is a docent?
“Docent” is a word derived from the Latin word ‘docere', meaning ‘to teach'. A Plattsburgh State Art Museum docent is a specially trained volunteer who facilitates learning in the galleries. Docents staff the galleries during open hours and educate visitors throughout the year.
Who are the PSAM docents?
PSAM docents are a diverse group of volunteers who share a passion for art and the community. Docents are active, enthusiastic, imaginative, and knowledgeable. Docents help visitors discover the world of art by encouraging them to look, explore, question, and understand works of art, styles, concepts, artists, history and culture.
What is the training commitment?
Training courses are held every fall and spring. They cover topics related to touring techniques, current museum and art education practices, art history, PSAM collections, PSAM operations, and institutional history. Each course is led by PSAM staff, docents and/or special guests, such as university professors or staff from other museums.
What is the time commitment involved in becoming a docent?
Docents are asked to volunteer 4 hours a month (or more if desired). Docents work 4 hour gallery shifts, noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
What are the requirements for a PSAM docent?
- Willingness to learn how to engage visitors of all ages.
- Be in attendance at the museum for your scheduled times.
- Attend all required training courses and study outside the onsite training sessions.
- Be able to stand/sit for extended periods of time.
- Be open to constructive criticism and willing to improve skills.
- Be willing to give occasional extra service, (i.e., Docent Executive Committee, specialized tour offerings, etc.)
- Have an active e-mail account and check it regularly. Museum correspondence will utilize email.
- Basic computer skills are strongly encouraged.
- Regularly attend openings of special exhibits and the pre-/post-exhibit lectures.
What are the benefits to being a PSAM docent?
Docents are a vital part of the PSAM’s mission, educational directive, and strategic plan. Continuing education through training sessions will provide you with the foundation for exploring PSAM’s extensive collection. You will assist in serving diverse groups of adults and students by sharing PSAM’s collection and special exhibitions. You will discover that individuals respond differently to your tour information based on their expectations, backgrounds, experiences, and interests. This exchange of ideas provides you and our visitors with a wealth of new perspectives on art, culture, and the community.
Docents are also eligible for the benefits of being a Plattsburgh State University Volunteer (i.e., parking, email, library, telephone, campus ID and computer systems access). You will also enjoy the camaraderie of other amazing docents!
To apply, please submit:
Please send or email materials to:
Plattsburgh State Art Museum Office
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901