Volunteers support our programs in a range of ways, such as helping out at evening events, lending a hand to the Learning and Public Programs department on Family Days, ushering for the MCA Stage, or leading tours of exhibitions.


The MCA is accepting applications for volunteer docents to lead public tours on weekends, weekday afternoons, and weekday evenings. Docents are passionate about both learning and sharing knowledge, and welcome visitors of all ages into the galleries.

People with all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Art history knowledge is not required. The docent role requires comfort with communication, collaboration, and flexibility. The training program includes sessions on contemporary art, engagement skills, and presentation. Training schedule accommodates working professionals.

How can I apply?

Apply using our online form. Applications are due by midnight on Monday, April 23.


What is the time commitment?

A minimum one-year commitment is required. New docent training is three months long starting in late May. There is an average of two trainings per month. Trainings are held on Monday evenings and Saturdays. After completing the training, docents are required to volunteer to lead a minimum of 12 tours per year.

What are the requirements?

  • Attend new docent trainings and ongoing professional development trainings
  • Have access to a computer with internet and email
  • Become a member of the MCA

What do docents do?

Learn how to create memorable experiences with contemporary art in training sessions led by MCA staff and outside specialists.

Guide visitors through exhibitions while sharing information about the artworks and artists to illuminate connections between art and contemporary culture.

Volunteer to become part of the MCA’s exciting learning community, committed to supporting visitors’ experiences by applying museum education principles.

Represent the MCA’s mission with integrity while creating opportunities for art, learning, and engagement.

What qualities are you looking for in a docent?

Curiosity and passion. If contemporary art inspires you to examine new ideas, you could make a great docent. Though experience in teaching or customer service roles is useful, it is not required.

Who are docents?

The MCA welcomes people of all ages, abilities and professional backgrounds. Docents are committed to collaborative learning and are empowered to engage in critical dialogues that are open to multiple perspectives. Applicants must be 18 years or older.

Are docents experts in the arts?

No. Docents are lifelong learners who inspire visitors to look closer at art, invite dialogue, and broaden understandings of contemporary culture.

Access, Inclusion, and Equity

We aspire to make the MCA community and our environment—staff, volunteers, audiences, artists, programs, and exhibitions—reflective of the diversity of the city of Chicago and to capture the spirit of access, inclusion, and equity in all we do.

General MCA Volunteers

General volunteers assist museum staff by interacting with visitors and serving as welcoming representatives of the museum. Opportunities to usher at public programs or accept membership cards at members’ openings come up on a regular basis.

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis and applications are kept on file. Selected candidates will be asked to participate in a volunteer training session. Volunteers must be 18 years and older and at least 21 years of age to volunteer at MCA events that include alcoholic beverages.

For more information on becoming a general MCA volunteer, please contact the Human Resources Coordinator at [email protected].


A group of five people pose, all but one wearing purple fedoras.
A volunteer helps out at a karaoke activity during MCA Prime Time: Purple, May 6 2016. Photo © MCA Chicago.

Family Programs Volunteers

In January 2009, a new program began for volunteers specifically interested in working with families and children in a contemporary art museum setting, such as Family Days and Summer Studios. These opportunities are available to family programs volunteers on a regular basis. Volunteers welcome and direct families upon their arrival to the museum, assist staff and teaching artists at creation stations, and may be asked to represent the MCA at off-site events. Individuals interested in interacting with families as well as students currently enrolled in art education and early childhood education programs are encouraged to apply.

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, and volunteer training takes place when positions become available. Please indicate your interest in family programs on the application form.

All family programs volunteers complete a background check before starting their hours.

To qualify as active, volunteers must serve a minimum of four hours every four months. Additional information is provided during our volunteer training sessions, which occur in March, July, and November.

For more information on becoming a family programs volunteer, please contact the Internship and Volunteer Coordinator at [email protected].


Two children in a cardboard maze look at man pointing to our left.
A family programs volunteer assists two children through a maze during Family Day, Apr 2015. Photo: Joshua Longbrake, © MCA Chicago.

Performance Ushers

Performance ushers take tickets in the Edlis Neeson Theater, direct patrons to seats, escort disabled visitors, and provide other assistance.

For more information, please call the performance volunteer hotline at 312-397-4072 or email your inquiry to [email protected].

Current Volunteers

Access the volunteer portal to update your profile, check for available opportunities, and keep track of your hours.


Applications are due by midnight on Monday, April 23.

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There are no openings for volunteers at this time. Please check back for updates.