Block Student Docents

Student Docent Program

What do docents do?

Block Museum Student Docents play a key role in animating the vision of the museum by engaging directly with our public. Docents:

  • Serve as facilitators for the public: Docents' primary role is to facilitate in-gallery learning experiences. They lead all of our tours which engage the full breadth of Block audiences, including university students and faculty coming for class visits related to their courses of study, adults visiting the museum from neighboring communities, and well elementary and high school-age students.
  • Take part in ongoing training and professional development: To support them in their role, docents receive in-depth training on the art that the museum presents as well as on how to be dynamic, effective facilitators. They meet with Block curators and read related texts to equip them with deep content knowledge about current exhibitions. They work closely with the Engagement staff and one another to learn about and experiment with different approaches to gallery teaching and learning, including inquiry-based dialogue.
  • Participate fully in the life of the Block: Docents also have the chance to get a behind-the-scenes experience with the Block’s vibrant public programming, which ranges from world-renowned scholars presenting lectures in our auditorium, to NU theater students animating the galleries with performances, to lively interdisciplinary faculty dialogues. Because of their deep involvement in the Block, docents also serve as ambassadors to the university and surrounding communities, helping to ensure the campus community as well as our neighbors in Chicago and the north shore are aware of the Block as a resource, a space for art and dialogue, and their free museum.


Who are student docents?

Docents are current NU students who come from diverse fields of study, not just the arts. Our docents major in English, Philosophy, Economics, Sociology, Global Health, Theater, Journalism, Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Social Policy, Radio, Television and Film and more. Docents bring their own unique backgrounds and disciplinary training to their museum tours. Together, the student docent cohort work collaboratively as a community of practice who love art and are excited about sharing it with others.


How do I get involved?

Interested students must apply for the position. During Spring Quarter, we accept applications from prospective docents, interview select candidates, and make decisions by the end of the academic year. Accepted students join the docent program in Fall Quarter and must meet all responsibilities to continue as a docent.


Responsibilities

  • Fall training: Student docents hired in Spring 2017 will complete 8 weekly training sessions on Thursday evenings from 5:00-7:15pm in Fall 2017. Through readings, homework assignments, and practice in the galleries, this training course provides docents with strategies and skills to develop and lead effective tours.
  • Ongoing training: In addition to this initial training course, docents will complete ongoing trainings which accompany each new exhibition. These trainings are scheduled throughout the academic year and consist of guest and curator lectures, gallery walk-throughs, and readings.
  • Tours: Student docents commit to at least 10 tours or events per year. Tours are scheduled upon request and occur on both weekdays and weekends. While working with student schedules, docents must be adaptable and responsive in order to accommodate the tour scheduling process.
  • Professional skills: Student docents gain important professional skills including public speaking, tour development, and program planning.
  • Community building: Docents have the opportunity to engage and deepen ties with the Evanston and Northwestern communities in a meaningful way. The docent cohort also serves as its own dynamic student-driven community of practice.
  • Museum access: Docents enjoy behind-the-scenes access to the museum’s exhibitions and inner-workings. Docents are invited to participate in a variety of museum programs, beyond tours alone.
  • Compensation: Docents in-training will receive $9.00/hour during the training course in Fall 2016. Docents who successfully complete training will receive $11.00/hour beginning in Winter 2017.

Qualifications

Must be a current NU student who is

  • Excited about facilitating dynamic interactions and conversations with the public, including NU communities as well as children, youth, and adults from the surrounding region
  • Keenly interested in art and sharing it with others
  • Open to working collaboratively with Block staff and fellow docents
  • Curious about the behind-the-scenes experience of museum public practice and eager to make a meaningful contribution to our engagement work
  • Highly reliable, dedicated, responsive to e-mail communication, and punctual
  • Able to commit to at least one year of docent work, including supporting 10 tours or engagement events in the course of the academic year
  • Willing to work at both daytime and evening event

Docent applications for 2017-2018 are now closed.  

For more information or if you have questions contact Lauren Watkins, Engagement Manager at lauren.watkins@northwestern.edu