Minnesota Museum of American Art By-Laws


The Docent Program is an affiliate organization of the Minnesota Museum of American Art. The purpose of the Minnesota Museum of American Art’s Docent Program is to provide members, guests and visitors of the museum with organized, interpretive tours of museum exhibitions with trained volunteers as tour guides.

The Docent Executive Committee acknowledges that Docents are a representative of the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and often, the only visible contact between the public and the Museum. The skillful touring Docent will be knowledgeable, enthusiastic, able to communicate, and must also present a positive image at all times.


The Docent Program is governed internally by the Executive Committee consisting of a Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Member-at-Large and Ex-Officio or Past Chair. They are elected annually by the membership each end of the fiscal year and serve until their successors are elected. The Executive Committee shall meet monthly or by call of the Chair and the meetings shall be open to all Docents. The Executive Committee shall have the power to make, alter, amend or repeal all or any part of this code of by-laws. Three of the four elected voting members of the Executive Committee shall be a quorum to do business at any meeting. A vacancy in the office of a voting member of the Executive Committee exists when any member resigns, becomes incapable, dies, or is removed. The remaining voting members of the Executive Committee shall fill any vacancy at any regular or special meeting and the successor shall serve out the unexpired term of his or her predecessor.

The Executive Committee is responsible for:

  • maintaining museum policy for all Docents.
  • considering special requests made by Docents.
  • maintaining the Code of By-Laws as it pertains to all Docents.
  • meeting with the Director of Education and other MMAA staff members as needed.
  • • reviewing Docent training schedule with education staff.


Election Procedures for the Executive Committee at the Annual Meeting
The Chair shall preside at the Annual Meeting and shall recognize Vice-Chair as Chair of the Nominating Committee, who shall read its report and move the election of the slate. The Chair shall then ask for nominations from the floor.
If there are no nominations from the floor and no one questions or opposes any candidate on the slate, the Chair shall call for vote on the slate, by voice, show of hands or written ballot, as he or she thinks suitable.

If there are nominations from the floor, or if anyone questions or opposes any candidate on the slate, the Chair shall call for a vote by written ballot, candidate by candidate, and shall appoint tellers to count the votes. The candidates receiving the largest number of votes shall be elected.


Chair (One Year Term)
  • planning and conducting an annual business meeting for all docents.
  • schedules meetings of the Docent Executive Committee in coordination with the Director of Education.
  • represents Docent Program on the Board of Trustees.
  • represents Docents at Museum functions and meetings.
  • serves as a liaison between staff and Docents.
  • arranges social events and some program planning for Docents.
Vice-Chair (One Year Term)
  • takes over Chair’s functions when Chair is away or resigns.
  • with Chair, represents Docent Program on the Board of Trustees.
  • serves as Chair of Nominating Committee.
  • accepts nominations annually for Executive Committee members.
  • submits a slate of nominations for Executive Committee approval.
  • submits an approved slate of nominees for the Executive Committee
  • to members for election at annual business meeting.

Secretary (One Year Term)

  • takes minutes of meetings for the permanent record.
  • handles correspondence.

Member-at-Large (One Year Term)

  • prepares newsletters to inform Docents of pertinent Museum, Docent and community activities.

The Docent Executive Committee recognizes four status designations of Docents. All status designations are considered voting members. One-third of the voting members shall be a quorum to do business at the annual business meeting.

Regular Docents are responsible for:

  • committing two years to the Docent Program: completing a mandatory one-year training program and one-year leading tours.
  • committing outside preparation time for classes, approximately 2-3 hours per week.
  • attending continuing Docent education classes after the first year of training.
  • reading and understanding the Docent Code of By-Laws.
  • preparing for and attending scheduled meetings, classes and tours.
  • leading an equitable number of tours in proportion to the number or tours requested by museum audiences. (Docents will receive credit for a tour if a group cancels without notice.)
  • finding substitutes if an emergency situation arises and you are unable to lead a
    scheduled tour, and notifying the Education Department of the change.
  • following all Docent Program guidelines, policies and procedures.
  • promoting public interest in the Museum and its programs by inviting one tour
    per year.
  • purchasing a Museum membership and maintaining it each year while serving in the Docent Program.
  • completing availability forms and submitting in writing notifications of time off and vacations to the Education Department.
  • participating in an annual performance review with the Docent Executive
    Committee and Education staff.

Associate Members are responsible for:

  • having committed five years to the Docent Program.
  • following all Docent Program guidelines, policies and procedures.
  • completing availability forms and submitting in writing notifications of time off and vacations to the Education Department.
  • training for and leading two tours per year.

Members on Leave of Absence must submit a written request to the Docent Executive Committee and a copy to the Director of Education for a leave of absence. If the leave exceeds one year, the Executive Committee may require refresher training courses prior to reinstatement. No leave will be considered for Docents who have not completed the basic two-year requirement.

Docent Emeritus members of the Committee are retired Docents. Docents who have served at least eight consecutive years may submit written requests to the Executive Committee for Docent Emeritus status. Emeritus members receive certain privileges such as participation in Docent training, planning meetings, museum exhibitions and social events, and are expected to maintain their Museum memberships. Privileges are negotiated by the Executive Committee and appropriate museum staff. They may change as conditions warrant.

Former Docent Program Members who voluntarily leave the Docent Program must notify the Executive Committee in writing. Docents with fewer than eight years continuous service receive no special privileges following separation other than the ability to be reinstated. Depending upon length of separation, training sessions may be required by the Executive Committee prior to reinstatement.

Violations of by-laws may cause the Executive Committee to request a Docent’s resignation. In such cases, the Docent may use the grievance procedure as outlined in these By-laws to appeal such a request.


  • program planning and training on

    -MMAA’s permanent collection
    -Art History survey course
    -Museum’s history
    -Traveling exhibitions
    -Touring techniques

  • recruiting new Docents and providing their training program, scheduling tours with Docents, assisting the chairperson with social events and overall maintenance of the program.
  • initial contact with the public and handling of all tour requests.
  • providing benefits whenever possible: reduced rates for classes, previews and other museum programs, reimbursement for parking and bus fare to tour sites, catalogues at cost.
  • providing a letter from the Board of Trustees to all Docents who retire or resign in good standing acknowledging their volunteer efforts.
  • formally evaluating each Docent at least once a year to provide hints and
    suggestions for improved methods, approaches and techniques. Evaluations will be conducted by Museum Education Staff.
  • informing all Docents of training schedule.
  • tracking all Docent tour data and reporting data and attendance to Executive Committee.
  • keeping permanent Docent records.
  • providing materials and training for all exhibitions.


  • Begin by discussing the problem openly and candidly with the person involved. The Docent may request a member of the Executive Committee to be present at this informal discussion.
  • If the problem is not satisfactorily resolved then discuss the problem with the Chair of the Executive Committee.
  • If the problem is not satisfactorily resolved after discussion with the Chair, contact the Director of Education to review the problem, who will counsel all parties on relevant issues and Museum practices affecting their volunteer obligations. The primary role of the Director of Education is to act as a facilitator to reach a satisfactory settlement of the problem.
  • If the Docent genuinely receives no satisfaction, and a proper amount of time has elapsed for the resolution of the grievance, the Docent should bring the matter, in writing, to the attention of the full Executive Committee who will act accordingly.
  • If no resolution has been reached after meetings with the Director of Education, and the Docent Executive Committee, the problem will be brought to the Museum Director. Representation by all involved parties will be required.