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

A video of our March, 2024 webinar, Beyond Art History: Creating Great Tour Experiences, an encore presentation based on a breakout session from the 2022 National Docent Symposium in Kansas City. 

Adult visitors have a lot to teach us! How can we prepare to use their questions and comments to facilitate vibrant conversations? Join our Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art docent presenters as they explore a tour framework, including a tool that provides multiple entry points as well as impactful questioning strategies. Older student group also benefit from this approach. 

The following supplemental documents are provided in the links below


The National Docent Symposium Council is soliciting applications for Education Grants for attendees to the Atlanta 2024 symposium.  Applicants must be volunteer, unpaid, docents or guides, must be attending a symposium for the first time, and must not be receiving funding for the registration fee from their institution, docent organization or other grant source.

The intent of the grants is to increase participation within traditionally underserved communities and institutions serving indigenous and immigrant communities and those focused on accessibility for all; to broaden the number of museums, galleries, and cultural institutions that will send docents/guides to future symposia; and to promote symposium attendance by docents/guides who might not otherwise be able to attend. These grants, which cover the symposium registration fee, are in service to the NDSC’s commitment to supporting docent/guide growth and education through communication and collaboration between U.S. and Canadian volunteer docents/guides at our biannual symposia.

Application period opens on January 9, 2024, and closes on March 8, 2024.  Grantees will be notified April 1, 2024

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information about the Education Grants and application process.

Anne Minteer, Docent, San Diego Museum of Art and NDSC Programs Committee Member

Have you ever been challenged when engaging adults on a docent tour? Find yourself still focusing on history and “information.” Struggled to get visitors to talk at all? As docents, many of us face these challenges as individuals return to our institutions in increasingly larger numbers post-pandemic. In March, two docents from the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Craig Anderson and Karen Skillett, were the guest speakers at an NDSC webinar Beyond Art History: Creating Great Tour Experiences that provided ways to facilitate vibrant conversations.

Over 950 docents and museum educators registered for the event which was a repeat of abreakout session Craig and Karen presented at the 2022 National Docent Symposium in KansasCity. Here are some highlights of their presentation:


How has the NDSC brought value to you and your practice as a docent or guide?

Have you:

  • Joined the Facebook Forum, an NDSC webinar, or a Regional Virtual Roundtable?
  • Attended a National Docent Symposium with fellow docents and guides?
  • Turned to the NDSC website as an educational resource?
  • Discovered tips and tools in one of our two Docent Handbooks?

As a member of our docent community, we hope you’ll support our efforts this Giving Tuesday, November 28. It kicks off our annual campaign, providing essential funds. This year, your donation will help us to offer:

  • A new and more dynamic website
  • Additional webinars and Regional Roundtable discussions
  • Educational Grants to the 2024 Atlanta Symposium

With your help, the NDSC can continue to provide you with more ways to learn, share and connect in the year ahead. We appreciate your participation AND your donation. Thank you for all you do as a valued member of our community!

Thank you for your DONATION. We appreciate your support!


A video of our November, 2023 webinar, You Are Welcome: Reconsidering Visitor Engagement, an encore presentation based on a breakout session from the 2022 National Docent Symposium in Kansas City. 

Discover how the Walter’s Art Museum docent corps examined and updated their touring tools and approach to make all visitors feel more welcome. Learn how they used the Museum’s DEAI goals as a framework to elevate their touring practices. 

To view a pdf of the Walters Art Museum Docents Annotated Bibliography referenced in the webinar, please click here.


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.

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. 


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