• Reception at Nelson-Atkins
  • KC Symposium WWI Museum
  • The High Museum of Art
  • Breakout session
  • Docents at KC Symposium
  • Atlanta Table at KC

Join us at the 2024 National Docent Symposium in Atlanta as a Breakout Session or a Sip & Share table talk presenter. We’re accepting proposals now through October 15, 2023.

Take advantage of two opportunities to share your experience, knowledge, and touring and engagement strategies with your peers. Click here to watch the Program Chairs describe the options.

Breakout Sessions, the traditional 60-minute workshop, will feature up to 3 presenters sharing innovative touring and engagement strategies to engage with various audiences or ideas on expanding, training, or diversifying your docent corps. Click here for Breakout Session ideas and how to submit a proposal.

Sip & Share is an exciting new programming initiative featuring table presenters sharing best practices in 15-20 minute sessions. In this two-hour program, docents will rotate among the tables, drink in hand, connect with their colleagues, and learn new ways to enhance their docenting practice. Click here for more information about Sip & Share and how to submit a proposal. 

Consider sharing your topic in both! Your Sip & Share presentation could hone in on one aspect of your Breakout Session topic. Or consider expanding your Sip & Share into a Breakout Session.

Questions? Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Act now! Session proposals are due October 15, 2023!

by Jeanne Heise and Anne Minteer, Western Region Directors

In June 2023, the Western Region hosted a popular virtual roundtable titled, “Reimagining
Docent Training.” Over 50 docents/guides attended representing 21 museums from six out of
seven states within the region.
The post pandemic landscape has resulted in shrinking docent populations at many institutions.
Increased focus on DEIA and social justice issues has required changes in recruitment of
docents, in structure and timing of classes, and in the content and duration of training.
Museums, and their docent organizations, across the region are trying to adapt and replenish
their docent corps. Our topic struck a chord.

San Diego Museum of Art Docents and Educators Collaborate on Popular Student Artist Workshop Program
by Anne Minteer, Regional Director, West

In 2021, docents and Museum educators at the San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) saw a looming problem. Eventually, students would be returning to SDMA after the Covid pandemic. Was there a way to increase collaboration between docent volunteers and Museum education staff? Could we provide students with an opportunity to pair observing and interpreting art in the galleries with the exploratory process of creating art in a workshop setting?

We found an answer in the Student Artist Workshop (SAW) program and 400 students in San Diego County attended sessions during the 2022-2023 school year. The theme: Landscape Mood Painting-Comfort and Calm. A version of the program had existed pre-pandemic, but we wanted to increase the scale and level of collaboration between the docent and education teams.

Turning Pages Book Club Inspires Visitors

Author: Betsy Burgess, Docent, Nevada Museum of Art with contributions from Book Club Docent Co-chairs and Museum Staff

No matter the curatorial focus, your museum can create excitement and curiosity around the subject with a book club that can provide an entry-point into meaningful discussions and discoveries.


Meet the NDSAtl24 Co-Chairs

                               Dianna Smeal, Kristen Keirsey and Bryan Brooks

It takes a lot of work and strong team leaders to make a symposium happen. We are thrilled to have a great set of High Museum of Art docents as Co-Chairs of our next Symposium in Atlanta in November of 2024. They are working hard with many other volunteers to make Atlanta another exception experience for all the docents who attend. Learn about the Atlanta co-chairs.

A video of our first webinar of 2023, Diversifying the Docent Corps: A Case Study from the Crocker Art Museum, an encore presentation of a breakout session from the Kansas City National Docent Symposium last September 

The Crocker Art Museum's Docent Council initiative to diversify its corps has reaped signifigant results over the past three years. Hear their stories and strategies during this one-hour program.

To view a pdf of the presentation slides, please click here.


The Breakout Sessions at the National Docent Symposium are among the most anticipated activities during the three-day event. This year was no exception, with full rooms, great participation and plenty of helpful takeaways. While we may not be in Kansas City anymore, we can still benefit from the wisdom shared during the 30+ presentations. Materials from these sessions are now available on our website here.  You’ll find topics categorized into six areas: School Touring; Audience Engagement; Touring Specialty Populations; Recruitment, Training and Review; Technology; and Other Docent Activities.

Please use these materials for educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Thank you to all our wonderful presenters. We appreciate you sharing your experiences, ideas and practices with docents and guides everywhere.

 Building on the 2017 Docent Handbook 2, the National Docent Symposium Council has published Tours with Children and Teens: A Handbook for Docents and Guides. The new
publication enhances and deepens information and guidance for touring with children pre-K through high school, home schoolers and multi-aged groups, and those with special needs. Practical help and suggestions are enlivened with lots of examples from a variety of museums, and illustrated with color photographs.  The approaches presented throughout the handbook are equally relevant for in-person and virtual tours.

Co-authors Lindsay Noonan McAuliffe and Betsy Vourlekis (both from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, Freer and Sackler Galleries) and Jan Thorman (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore) have drawn on their own years of experience as docents, input from other docents and guides, and lots of research, to bring you this exciting and informative handbook.  We hope that it will inspire confidence and enjoyment for the important work of docents and guides with young visitors.

For more information or to purchase a printed or digital version, please click on the link in the sidebar or visit this page.  


The Docent Handbook 2 

Now available in two versions, digital and print.

For more information and ordering instructions, click this LINK.

Be a Resource!  We welcome articles for publication on the NDSC website. 


Sign Up to Stay Informed
Keep up to date on topics of interest for docents/guides and plans for the next symposium

Join our mailing list!

Atlanta Logo with date



Tours with Children and Teens Handbook Cover

Donation button homepage PNG 2021