Since 1887, the Museum has depended on volunteer help for many of its projects and much of its development. Today, more than 100 volunteers participate regularly, making important contributions to the Museum. Some volunteers come in daily, and many have served for 10 or more years!
If you are interested in volunteering at the Penn Museum, please review the volunteer opportunities listed and then submit an application for a specific opportunity. Applications will only be considered for these opportunities. The Penn Museum’s volunteer needs vary throughout the year. If you don’t see a position that is a good fit or of particular interest to you now, please plan to check back at a future time. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis unless otherwise noted.
Penn Museum Docent
Description: Docents lead gallery tours on behalf of the Penn Museum. Currently there are openings for docents to lead tours of the Africa and Mexico & Central America galleries. Tours last 50 minutes, and focus on one of the cultures highlighted in the Museum’s galleries. Most tours are for school-aged children, with occasional private tours for families and adults.
Required Training: All applicants must pass an in-person interview with Learning Programs Staff before beginning docent training.
Docent training includes:
- Shadowing several docent tours
- Studying a reading list that provides information about collections in the gallery of choice (docents select and train towards giving tours around one gallery).
- Complete a 12-hour training course focusing on educational best practices for leading tours.
- Develop a 50-minute tour.
- Present the tour for other docents and the Guide Program Manager.
Successful completion of training, and readiness to lead tours, is based on approval by the Guide Program Manager.
Qualifications: Docent volunteers must have at least one year of educational experience. This can include working in a classroom as a teacher or aid. Less formal experiences, such as working as a summer camp counselor, or tutor may also be considered. Docents must be over 18 years of age.
Expectations: Docents are required to purchase a membership to the Penn Museum. This not only provides meaningful opportunities to learn more about the collections, but updates about Penn Museum news and events. All docents are required to offer one day a week to be free to lead tours, as well as potentially four weekend tours per year. Docents are expected to attend a monthly meeting with the Guide Program Manager and other docents on the first Monday of every month. Finally, docents must undergo a background check for clearances on child abuse and criminal activity.
Applications are due Saturday, January 12 and training will begin in February.