Keeping the Exchange Alive

By Mina Shea, President, National Docent Symposium Council, Docent, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Fall 2019)

On October 24th-27th docents, guides and educators representing a broad range of cultural institutions of fine arts, historic houses, textiles and botanical gardens, just to name a few,  will attend the National Docent Symposium in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Smithsonian Freer|Sackler galleries and their docents. Great ideas and voices of experience on docent and guide practice will be shared by both large and small institutions from across the United States and Canada (most recent count 40 States, the District of Columbia and 3 Canadian provinces). I think we all can agree that the biennial symposium is the best forum for the exchange of ideas and personal interaction with our colleagues in North America. We expect a record attendance of 450!

We know that not everyone is able to attend the symposium. The National Docent Symposium Council strives to “Keep the exchange alive” and to provide a professional network for docents, guides and educators nationally and internationally all year and every year. This year we will offer comments from attendees directly from the symposium on our Facebook page and in our Facebook forum so the many who are unable to attend will get a small taste of the symposium. Remember also that following each symposium, many of the presenters share their handouts and PowerPoint presentations on our website This is one of the most visited pages on our website. Most recently, a docent from Crystal Bridges who attended the Montreal symposium in 2017 shared with the NDSC the video she created for her own museum colleagues. Take a virtual visit to the Montreal symposium.

The NDSC is YOUR voice for exchange and we thank the many docents, guides and educators who have contributed with presentations at the symposium, with articles for thoughtful consideration and fun (we docents and guides sharing stories of their world travel).   Help us” Keep the Exchange Alive.” Get the word out to colleagues in your own institution and neighboring institutions.   Become a part of the professional network for docents, guides and educators at

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