Park House Guides are responsible for conducting tours through Fairmount Park and its fully restored historic houses as well as walking tours of the exterior of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its surrounding historic and artistic sites. Guides may participate in a number of different programs that engage diverse audiences, such as families, school children, bus groups and other specialty-interest groups, as well as general Museum visitors. As Museum-trained volunteers, their mission includes increasing awareness of the historical treasures of the Fairmount Park Houses; educating guests about early Philadelphia and Pennsylvania history; and, introducing the public to the wonderful resources of Fairmount Park.
The Application Process
A limited number of applicants are accepted for each training period. Previous experience with history, art, or public speaking is desirable but not required. In addition to the written application and cover letter an interview with Executive Board members of the Park House Guides is required of all applicants.
Park House Guides will train on Saturdays for an 18 month period. These trainings are led by the Site Manager for Historic Sites and by, members of the Division of Education and Public Programs, curatorial staff, and experienced Guides. The program combines the general study of the following content and techniques:
- General Philadelphia history from the 17th through the 20th centuries
- Philadelphia architecture of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
- Specialized and comprehensive emphasis of the history and architecture of the historic houses of Fairmount Park, the Park itself, the Museum building, and the Perelman building.
- Furniture and decorative arts of the 18th and 19th centuries and public sculpture of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.
- Interpretive techniques for designing tours and engaging visitors
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to adapt to changes and to work well with the public
- Keen interest in learning and ability to conduct independent research
- Ability to work in a dynamic environment with visitors of all ages and abilities, Museum staff and volunteers from diverse backgrounds
- Well-prepared, dependable and punctual
The Park House Guide candidates must be able to:
- Attend weekly Saturday training sessions for 18 months
- Serve a minimum number of hours each year by giving tours
- Participate in continuing education programs each year
- Possess basic computer skills
- Have a valid email address with reliable access to the internet
- Intend to make a three year commitment of service upon successful completion of training
- Must be available to volunteer weekends
- Agree to become a member of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and keep that membership current during tenure as a Guide
- Successful completion of a criminal background check
Following their completion of the training program, Park House Guides maintain and expand their knowledge through a continuing education program.
- Be able to conduct one-hour tours and navigate staircases in historic houses, and lead moderate walking outdoor tours. Conduct a one hour tour without using notes.
- Be able to project voice and hear others while working in areas with some ambient noise.