ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – They’re helpful and ready to answer questions with a nametag and a smile. Docents are an important part of a museum experience. But what makes a good one, and how do people get involved in the program?

Curator of Education at the Albuquerque Museum Elizabeth Becker says lifelong learners make for good docents. “You have to have a lot of curiosity, you also have to be someone who’s a flexible thinker – you’re always engaging different people. Your audience is always different,” Becker says. “..Also [it helps to ]have a passion for art and history and the stories that objects tell.”

She says docents often don’t come from just one background. “Part of that is, I think, people who may have had professional careers in many different environments – may it be business or law or science – and have always harbored a passion for art and history,” says Becker. She does add it does help if the docent has had public positions where they interacted with people.

Becker says the program always has a good mix of newcomers and veterans; some having been a docent for almost 30 years. Their bi-annual recruiting process lends itself to a mix of old and new docents providing tours.

The Albuquerque Museum holds training and recruits new docents to the program every two years beginning in September. Becker says this year, they’ve revised the curriculum to include more intensive “boot camp” training. “[It’s] a semester of getting the basics down, and then they’re going to move into more, along the line of what teachers do. Then they’ll become student docents who will be working with more advanced teams refining and getting more knowledge on the job,” says Becker.

The docents returned in September of 2020 during the pandemic when the museum offered timed visits and low capacity of people inside at one time. They focused on outdoor walking tours instead of indoor tours. The museum also held off until the 2022 school year to bring back the school tours. “We’d like to have a few more docents in our school program because that is always very popular and once this year came around, school groups came back with a fury,” Becker says. “There’s a lot of them.”

To get involved or find out more information on the docent program, Becker suggests heading to the City of Albuquerque’s volunteer site to start the application process. More information is also available on the Albuquerque Museum website.