With the world re-opening after difficult times, the Kelley House Museum is making its own plans to open its doors again…but we could use some help. The doors can’t be open if a friendly docent isn’t available to answer questions. Could this person be you?

Veteran docent Judy Chapman greets visitors at the Kelley House Museum.

First response to this question we usually hear is, “Oh, I couldn’t volunteer to do that. I don’t know enough about local history.” Let us reassure you…we are not looking for people who are mental encyclopedias of facts about Mendocino. What we hope to find are friendly people who can commit to at least one 4-hour shift a month to introduce Museum visitors to the town of Mendocino and its fascinating coastal history.

Our docents welcome folks, ask them where they are from. Is this their first visit to the coast? Did they have ancestors who lived here? What would they like to know? Docents share the history of the Kelley family and their house and introduce people to the current displays. They invite visitors to enjoy the garden and the view. And if there are questions about specific people or places, the docents can fetch the onsite curator, or take down the person’s contact information and explain that we’ll get back to them with a response.

There is a wealth of background information available to docents as they wait for visitors to come through the door. Besides the docent training manual, the Museum’s small bookstore offers many interesting books for sale that cover diverse areas of local history…everything from railroads, logging, movies made here, interesting local women, and ship builders to why there are so many water towers in Mendocino. Docents who have browsed these books are ready to say to guests, “Oh yes, we have a book about the history of surfing on the coast! Let me show you!”

We give simple, straightforward training to anyone interested, and the Museum’s experienced docents will shepherd you through your first experiences welcoming folks into the museum. If you’re more comfortable being out and about, our walking tour guides could use additions to their ranks and, again, training and resources are provided.

Be assured the Museum is following all pandemic protocols, such as limiting the number of visitors, spacing between exhibits, mandatory masks, and sanitizing.

Cultural institutions like the Kelley House Museum have had a hard time surviving this last year and deserve the support of the public. Being a docent is an easy way to lend a hand to one of our oldest community resources and enjoy learning something new. 

Call 937-5791 for more information or contact info@kelleyhousemuseum.org. The Museum hopes to be open on Saturdays and Sundays starting the weekend of April 4th. We welcome you to stop by and meet the docent on duty and learn more!