Docent Program Overview

Role of a Docent

A docent is a trained volunteer museum guide and an essential link between the public and the Museum. Docents strive to effectively engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds in inclusive and informative conversations about BAM's exhibitions and the Museum's mission. Docents give tours, perform gallery duty, and assist in educational programs. Articulate, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable, docents are important ambassadors inside and outside of the Museum's walls. Speakers of languages other than English are encouraged to apply and share their native language through our World Language tours. 




Benefits for Docents
  • Connections with others who share an interest in art
  • An opportunity to meet and interact with visitors from around the world
  • Introductory and continuing education in art, craft, and design
  • Experience with public speaking and dialogue facilitation in English and your native language
  • Exhibition walkthrough with artists, curators, and scholars
  • Art tours to local artists' studios and collectors' homes
  • Participation in book and movie clubs


Criteria & Commitments

We are looking for candidates who communicate with clarity, kindness, and tact; enjoy working with diverse public audiences; and have an enthusiasm for sharing art, craft, and design.

Since we usually communicate through email and docents-in-training will do research on a password-protected website (extranet), it is necessary to have an e-mail address, access to a computer, and connection to the internet. Hybrid meetings and classes may be available using Zoom. 

Following graduation, docents are asked to serve for a minimum of two years, working at least 16 two-hour shifts per year performing gallery duty and leading tours. Docents prepare for their shifts in various ways: by attending walk-throughs and workshops of new exhibitions, and by researching extensive information online on the BAM Docent blog and on site in the docent library. 



During Provisional year 

Annual - After Provisional year 

Docent Costs 

Tuition: $250 fee to cover class expenses, due upon acceptance* 

Docent Dues: Docents pay dues annually in June. In 2021, annual dues were $50. 

BAM Membership 

All Docents must be or become Bellevue Arts Museum members. Membership is available starting at $40. Once accepted, Provisional Docents may purchase memberships at a 20% discount.

Limited need-based financial aid is available. Please contact Emma Cantrell, Director of Education,, to learn more.


Training Program 

Our 2022–23 training program runs from September 12, 2022 – June 5, 2023. Half-day classes are on most Mondays and will conclude with a graduation lunch on June 5, 2023. For more information on schedule and curriculum, please review sections: Class Schedule, Learning Objectives, and Class Requirements.

If you are interested in becoming a Bellevue Arts Museum docent, please submit the Application Form on the website. A BAM staff member will email you to confirm your interview time. Interviews with candidates will be hosted on four Mondays in summer 2022. Please sign up for the earliest available interview time, as admission is on a rolling basis and class space is limited. We encourage you to apply before July 1 to secure an interview time.


Tentative 2022–2023 Provisional Education Schedule

Classes are held in-person at BAM but may be moved to virtual using Zoom. Provisional docents are expected to commit to the full schedule of classes. In the event of a conflict, the instructors will work with individuals to make up for excused absences on a case-by-case basis.

 View the schedule


Learning Objectives

1) Docents will demonstrate a variety of touring techniques to ensure the best possible experience for Museum visitors including the ability to

  • Speak clearly, loudly, and enthusiastically
  • Present and carry through a theme
  • Adapt tours to the needs and assets of specific audiences
  • Compare and contrast multiple works of art
  • Engage visitors with questions, utilizing inquiry-based learning strategies
  • Utilize culturally responsive teaching strategies to facilitate visitor engagement
  • Communicate information about the exhibitions, artists, and processes

2) Docents will demonstrate effective gallery duty techniques in approaching and engaging visitors.

3) Docents will demonstrate knowledge of

  • Art, craft, and design traditions and trends relevant to BAM’s exhibitions
  • The principles and elements of art and design
  • The Museum’s history, mission, and vision
  • The building’s architecture

4) Docents will use a variety of web and print resources, including

  1. Docent extranet, VicNet, and Docent Blog
  2. Docent library
  3. Museum’s website
  4. Other internet research as needed

5) Docents will demonstrate knowledge of docent and Museum programs and procedures including

  1. Docent guidelines, by-laws, and committee structure
  2. Docent procedures for signing up for Gallery Duty, trading scheduled slots, and confirming touring assignments
  3. Museum policies, procedures, programs, and services as they relate to docents and visitors
  4. Health and safety protocols, as directed by Museum staff, including emergency response, public health measures, etc.


Class Requirements


Docents-in-training will also spend time outside of class on assignments: researching information, attending museum and docent events and preparing for in-class presentations. We estimate students will spend approximately 10–15 hours each month outside of class in preparation and activities.

To be done outside of class:

  1. Use the Bellevue Arts Museum website
  2. Use the docent extranet and VicNet
  3. Use the docent library
  4. Attend a docent general meeting
  5. Attend a Bellevue Arts Museum public program, such as a lecture, artist talk, or workshop
  6. Attend a Bellevue Arts Museum social function, such as the Docent Holiday Luncheon
  7. Shadow a docent on gallery duty (two times)
  8. Shadow a docent on three tours: two adult tours and one children’s tour
  9. Shadow a docent on an On the Spot Talk (two times)
  10. Attend an exhibition walkthrough and workshop for docents during Spring Session



To be done in class; however, preparation outside of class will be necessary for the first four practices.

  1. Give a home art talk
  2. Guide a compare and contrast discussion
  3. Give a 15-minute tour
  4. Give a 25-minute tour
  5. Practice On the Spot Talks
  6. Use inquiry-based learning strategies