• Docent giving tour in the galleries
  • Docent giving a group tour in the Putnam gallery
  • Docent discussing the collection
  • Volunteer with school group
  • Docent leading tour group in Yin Yu Tang house

We're
partners.

VOLUNTEERS

Volunteers are an integral part of life at PEM and are welcome in almost every department. If you have time, spend it in the enriching and creative environment of the nation's oldest and fastest-growing museum. You could help read stories to children, lead tours, organize art-making projects or attract new members. Curatorial departments also welcome volunteers with a special interest in American, maritime, Asian, contemporary, Native American, Southeast Asian and Korean art. Volunteers might also be interested in exhibitions and research, the Art & Nature Center, marketing, the Museum Shop and other departments. There's always something to do!

To apply, download and complete the application and email it with a cover note indicating which team you are applying for, to Ellen Soares, Docent Program Manager, at ellen_soares@pem.org or by mail to Ellen Soares, Docent Program Manager, Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA 01970.

Volunteer application (PDF Format)

  • Guides for Gallery HangoutsOpen or Close

    PEM Guides for Gallery Hangouts are volunteer docents who host drop-in programs throughout the museum, with a special focus on family groups made up of multiple generations. Gallery hangouts are "pop-up" programs offered for up to two hours at a time, located in a variety of spots to encourage surprise, fun, and discovery throughout the museum. PEM Guides invite audiences to connect with art and ideas using touchable objects, sketching and art experiences, games and challenges, hands-on discovery, and friendly conversation, helping to deepen and enhance the museum experience. Participants explore topics ranging from artistic processes and materials to cultural and historical context, creativity, and imagination. The Gallery Hangouts Team is one of four PEM Guide teams.

    Responsibilities include:

    • Completing an Initial Training program, concluding with a qualification process certifying the Guide to lead programs with the public
    • Learn, practice and deliver a variety of Gallery Hangout experiences developed by PEM's Education Department, including Gallery Spots, Art Investigations, and other drop-in formats.
    • Attend monthly Team Meetings, participating in sharing, peer support and conversation about effective practice and contributing creative ideas to the ongoing development of Gallery Hangouts
    • Participate in continuous improvement, self-assessment, and program evaluation processes led by PEM staff
    • Use recordkeeping systems to track audience participation numbers
    • Conduct preparatory research outside training hours to develop knowledge and keep up to date on new content
    • Support PEM's educational and interpretive goals and values, using interpersonal communication approaches established by Education staff

    The Guides for Gallery Hangouts enjoy meeting and talking with people of all ages and backgrounds; are active listeners with excellent conversational skills, able to get participants talking, sharing and interacting together; show enthusiasm for sharing art, culture, and ideas with people of all ages and backgrounds; show respect for all individuals; have a friendly manner and find it easy to initiate exchanges; have strong observational skills and an ability to "read" people's responses; are flexible, able to tailor experiences "on the fly" to match participants' interests and priorities; enjoy helping audiences explore a select range of subjects in many different ways, such as storytelling, object handling, art-making, and game playing; work with staff and peers to continuously improve gallery teaching skills, using coaching, reflection, and self-assessment ; are reliable in fulfilling their commitment to the museum and its mission.

    Commitment:

    • A one-time Initial Training program consisting of six (+/-) 3-hour sessions covering basic program skills and content, leading toward qualification. Initial training is offered on both a weekday and a weekend day.
    • Attend 3-hour monthly Team Meetings to learn new programs, explore content, practice activities and share ideas. Team Meetings are offered on both a weekday and a weekend day.
    • Attend quarterly 3-hour meetings with PEM Guides from all four teams. Receive updates on museum activities, hear new exhibition introductions, and access other useful information. These Informational gatherings are offered in both weekday and weekend sessions.
    • Service - Gallery Hangout programs are offered on Saturdays and Sundays, with some exceptions featuring weekday programs during school vacations and holidays. Active PEM Guides for Gallery Hangouts are expected to contribute 5 hours per month, usually in two shifts of 2.5 hours each.
  • Guides for Student and Youth ProgramsOpen or Close

    PEM Guides for Student and Youth Programs are volunteer docents who support the PEM mission by engaging groups of students, teachers, and community educators in curriculum-based interactive explorations of art, culture, and ideas. PEM Guides for Student and Youth Programs facilitate discoveries of historic houses, special exhibitions, and the PEM collection during structured programs ranging in length from 30 minutes to two hours. Student and Youth Program experiences can include tours, art-making, gallery activities, sketching, games, discussions, and other interpretive techniques designed to celebrate creativity, build knowledge, enhance global understanding, explore creative expression across disciplines, and discover techniques for creative self-expression. Students range in age from Pre-K through university level, and represent a wide variety of interests, backgrounds, learning styles, special needs, primary languages, and abilities. The Student and Youth Program serves many different learning audiences, including school classrooms, afterschool and summer programs, university classes and programs, and community and youth groups.

    Responsibilities include:

    • Complete an Initial Training program, concluding with a qualification process certifying the Guide to lead programs with student groups
    • Learn, practice, and deliver new programs, using observation, reflective experiences, peer support, and feedback from peers and staff members
    • Attend monthly Team Meetings, participating in sharing, peer support and conversation about effective practice, and contributing creative ideas to the ongoing development of Student Programs
    • Participate in continuous improvement, self-assessment, and program evaluation processes led by PEM staff
    • Become proficient with a variety of learning experiences, including tours, art-making, conversation, use of touchable objects, gallery games, and other interpretive approaches
    • Conduct preparatory research outside training hours to develop knowledge and keep up to date on new content
    • Support PEM's educational and interpretive goals and values, using interpretation and interpersonal communication approaches established by Education staff
    • Communicate directly with teachers organizing school visits, and assist with program preparation tasks, as needed.

    Guides for Student and Youth Programs: are interested in being a "guide on the side, not a sage on the stage"; sincerely enjoy working with students of all ages, abilities, learning styles, and backgrounds, representing the full diversity of young learners in our communities; show enthusiasm for sharing art, culture, and ideas, and a desire to help students explore the world of creative expression; are kind, patient, supportive, and respectful of all students and teachers, regardless of background and perceived ability; are flexible, able to build upon teachable moments and respond to changing conditions and group behaviors; adapt their approach to a very wide range of students, addressing the interests, skills, and developmental levels of their groups, from early childhood learners to primary, middle, high school, college and graduate students, English language learners, special needs students, and other audiences; use program outlines and prepared resources to reach PEM's interpretive and educational goals and help students achieve outcomes; are good time managers, able to adhere to a program schedule and stay on track; are able to work with staff to continuously improve interpersonal and communication skills, learn new content and methods, and respond positively to coaching and critique; are reliable in fulfilling their commitment to the museum and its mission.

    Commitment:

    • Complete a one-time, intensive Initial Training program of 12-15 weekly 3-hour sessions covering basic program skills and content, leading toward qualification.
    • Attend monthly 3-hour team meetings to learn new programs, explore content, practice activities and share ideas. Optional but recommended Enrichment sessions will also be offered each month.
    • Attend quarterly 3-hour meetings with PEM Guides from all four teams. Receive updates on museum activities, hear new exhibition introductions, and access other useful information. These Informational gatherings are offered in both weekday and weekend sessions.
    • PEM Guides for Student and Youth Programs deliver program experiences mostly on weekdays, with occasional exceptions. Demand is heaviest in the winter through late spring, though programs take place throughout the year, including the summer months.

    Active PEM Guides for Student and Youth Programs are expected to contribute at least one 3-hour shift per week delivering programs to students.