Des Moines Art Center docents are a group of dedicated volunteers who welcome and guide more than 19,000 visitors annually through exhibitions at the museum and at the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

Historically the docent’s role was to be an expert; to be an effective docent today, an individual needs to be able to lead visitors in their own learning – leading them to look, think, and talk about what’s around them. An effective docent today is a facilitator, a listener, and a guide.

The initial two year training program and continued education helps support and model the evolving approach to leading tours. Weekly classes practice open-ended exploration through reading and film discussions, group gallery dialogues, personal observation, and self-reflection. These methods of learning emphasize inclusive practices, visual literacy, critical thinking, and civil discourse.

If you are interested in helping us welcome visitors of all ages and are interested in cultivating curiosity please e-mail Docent Educator/ Tours and Volunteer Manager Megen O'Toole or call 515.271.0328 to be added to the prospective docent list. The Art Center will begin the next docent training in the fall of 2020 with interviews starting in June.

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