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CMA Docent Program

What is the CMA Docent program?

Click here for the full Docent Handbook
The CMA Docent Program is a lively group of art enthusiasts who enjoy learning and sharing their knowledge of the Museum’s collection with the community.  The word docent derives from the Latin verb “docent” meaning to teach, to conduct, or to take care of.  Today, this word has come to mean anyone associated with volunteer educational services to a museum.  At the Canton Museum of Art, docents are a vital link between what is displayed in the Museum and how visitors respond to what they see.


The Canton Museum of Art is an ever-changing environment- the excitement never ends!  Our exhibitions change regularly, so the art never gets stagnant and our docents have many opportunities to meet and learn about new artists, their work, and processes.  Docents support the Museum’s commitment to providing our visitors with a fun, educational, and engaging experience.


What do they do?

Docent meetings include meeting curators, artists, and leaders in the field through  lectures, interactive gallery experiences, workshops, hands-on studio art activities, field trips, and social gatherings too!  Topics covered include CMA’s Permanent Collection, teaching methods, art topics, and art history as it pertains to CMA’s dynamic exhibitions.


The mission of the CMA Docents is to:

  • Deliver high quality art experiences for all ages
  • Provide visitors with a fun, educational and engaging experience learning about art
  • Support a collaborative learning environment that promotes museum education and touring strategies


Who makes a good Docent?

Qualities which make for a good Docent are enthusiasm, flexibility, and the ability to take a visitor-centered approach to touring.  Successful Docents are skilled at interacting with visitors of all ages and interested in working as a member of a team.  Docents are committed to learning ways of engaging visitors, and are willing to make the necessary commitments to both training and touring.

What background is required?

Prior knowledge of art is not necessary; only an open mind, interest, enthusiasm, and time are required.  Museum docents receive much self-satisfaction and enlightenment through this program since they are most often the first contact many children and adults have with visual arts and the Museum.


While the Museum does not require a background in art history or studio art, some knowledge of art and/or art–making techniques is helpful.  Important qualities that a docent should have include:

  • Interest in art
  • Good public speaking skills
  • Engaging
  • Able to interpret stories behind the art
  • Ability to work well with children and adults
  • Flexibility
  • Time


What is the commitment?

Docents are required to become museum members and are encouraged to participate in as many docent meetings, workshops, talks, and lectures as possible.  Independent study is also strongly encouraged to be immersed in the educational points of the exhibit.

In general, the time commitment ranges from 20 - 40 hours a year.  Meetings are held every first Wednesday of the month in the museum library from 10:00am to 12:00pm (with the exception of holidays and conflicting Museum activities).

In addition to the Wednesday sessions, docents may need to observe tours; spend time in the galleries looking at works of art; participate in group discussions, or present research about CMA’s permanent collection and general art history.


What does training involve?

Participants will attend training sessions to become familiar with the CMA collection and how visitors interact with the art.  We offer detailed training sessions for each new exhibition, and our docents often get the opportunity to meet the artists and curators.

New docent training covers the Canton Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection, touring techniques, participating in tours, touring practice, mentoring by active touring docents and other learning opportunities.


How do I apply to be a Docent?

Membership in the Docent Program is a two-step process that includes submitting an electronic or paper application and completing an interview.  Applications are available at CMA’s main office or PDF paper application or  electronic application.


For more information about the Docent Program, please contact
Erica Emerson, Education Manager, at 330-453-7666 ext.108,

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