School of Fine ArtsThe William Benton Museum of Art

Docent Programs

What is a docent?
A docent is a teacher, serving the museum and the community in the field of art education. The word “docent” is derived from the Latin word docere, meaning “to teach.” Along with providing a continuing education in art to its individual members, the docent program contributes in a variety of ways to art education in the Eastern CT region.

The docent program is composed of volunteers from the community with a  variety of backgrounds and experience. Many of our docents are professional educators.

The Benton’s Student Docent Program is for UConn students and is described below.


Benton Docents 2013

Benton Docents 2013

What do docents do?
Docents contribute in several important areas:

Touring: Docents serve as tour guides to visitors, including school children, students, the university and local community.

Art lectures: Docents may present talks at the museum to schools, community groups, and senior centers in the region.

Research: Docents prepare background information on museum exhibitions and acquisitions for the use of docents who tour and give lectures.

Are there any prerequisites for joining the program?
Volunteers should have an interest in art and enjoy learning and working with people. Docents must attend weekly training and be committed to the program. Docents do not need a degree in art. Bilingual persons are strongly encouraged to apply to the program.

What benefits do docents enjoy?
Docent training is an exciting review of the latest art scholarship and art education ideas and offers an opportunity for personal education and growth. Docents also enjoy special trips to museums as well as a chance to meet artists and work with museum professionals. They can network with their colleagues from regional and national museums through docent symposiums and conferences. They receive a discount in the Museum Store and validated parking when giving a tour or talk at the museum. Most art museums allow free admission to docents as a courtesy for being a valuable museum asset.

What does the training program involve?
The training program lasts nine months from September to May. Museum staff, docents and guest lecturers lead the trainees in the study of the history of art, exhibitions, museum education, and the study of the museum’s collection. Docents in training perfect their skills in various areas of docent service and join the many active docents serving the William Benton Museum of Art.

How many hours a week will it take?
Trainees meet each Tuesday from 10 am to 12 pm from September to May. Some individual time is spent on research, reading assignments, and preparation for tours or attending lectures. After months of initial instruction, docents continue to attend weekly Education Department trainings on Tuesday mornings. Docents give a minimum of 5 tours a semester.

How much does it cost?
Docents must become members of the museum and pay yearly docent dues to the Docent Council. The Docent Handbook by the National Docent Council is required and may be purchased through the Education Department.

How do I become a docent?
For further information and application, please contact the museum Education Coordinator
 at or


The Student Docent Program

UConn students play an important role at The Benton. As museum docents, they introduce freshman students to the museum and its changing exhibitions. Student docents are role models for students as they lead the way through the galleries using interactive discussion about selected works of art in our exhibitions.

Student Docent Training meets weekly on Fridays 2:00 – 4:00 pm in the fall semester.Training focuses on learning about current exhibitions, the museums collection, the history of the Benton, and developing professional docent skills.

Students must be reliable, enjoy working with people and learning about art.

The rewards of becoming a docent are many. Through training and experience, docents develop keen observation skills and become knowledgeable about art. The program develops confidence and public speaking skills while providing an important service; introducing new students to the art museum, it’s resources and developing an appreciation of the visual arts. This vital experience will earn students essential career skills and a valuable asset for their resume. Students will also have the opportunity to create programs and activities relating to exhibitions that benefit our visitors.

Considering participating in the program? First there are 2 basic requirements:

  • You must be able to attend weekly Friday trainings from 2:00 – 4:00
  • You will need to work on assignments such as reading / writing and follow veteran docents leading tours when you have free time.

If you are interested in the Student Docent Program, please contact our Education Department at

Student Docents