Frequently Asked Questions

Explanation of terms:
National Docent Symposium Council (NDSC)
National Docent Symposium (NDS)
American Alliance of Museums (AAM)

What is the NDSC?

The NDSC is an organization dedicated, since 1981, to providing an ongoing forum for docent education, the exchange of ideas and a biennial docent symposium. The NDSC consists of sixteen regional directors - two from each of the six AAM United States districts and two from Canadian districts, two at large directors and NDSC officers and advisors.  The NDSC selects symposia sites, provides guidance and support to host institutions, publishes The Docent Handbook and maintains the NDSC website,


How can I become a NDSC director?

NDSC Directors are elected to a four-year term at each symposium.   Directors must be active docents, present at the symposium during which they will be selected and willing to serve at their own expense. Application forms are available prior to each NDS. Watch for an announcement on our home page. 

What are the responsibilities of a NDSC director?

The primary responsibility of NDSC directors is to promote the national docent symposium in their own region (based on the AAM model) in collaboration with the other director in that region. The NDSC meets to conduct business in conjunction with the symposium and in alternate years it meets at the site of the next symposium. 

General information about NDSC directors can be found under the ABOUT US tab by clicking the heading NDSC Directors.


Who can attend a NDS?

NDS attendees are volunteer docents and staff from cultural institutions around the world.  Each institution many send a total of four delegates - one of which may be a staff member.  If more than four docents and/or staff wish to attend, they may request to be placed on a waiting list for first available registration openings.


Who is the host of the NDS?

The NDS is hosted by the docents of the sponsoring institution.  

General information about hosting an NDS can be found under the SYMPOSIA tab by clicking Hosting a Symposium including a list of all the NDS host institutions since 1981.


What does the NDSC look for when picking a symposium site?

The NDSC Site Selection Committee is looking for a single institution that has an established docent program.  The host city must have conference hotel capabilities, easy airport access and other cultural institutions within the vicinity of the host institution.  The NDSC strives to provide a variety of symposium hosting sites across the United States and Canada. 

General information about hosting an NDS can be found under the SYMPOSIA tab by clicking Hosting a Symposium.


How can my institution become a NDS host?

Contact the NDSC to advise them that your institution is interested in hosting.  Click on Contact Us.  The NDSC Site Selection Committee will provide a list of requirements, answer your questions and guide you through the application process. 

General information about hosting an NDS can be found under the SYMPOSIA tab by clicking Hosting a Symposium.


How do I access symposium presentations if I am unable to attend?

Go to our website  General information about the symposium presentations can be found under the SYMPOSIA tab by clicking Symposium’s Guest Speakers and Breakout Sessions.   All Breakout Session presenters are encouraged to prepare materials that can be posted to the website. 

These are just a sampling of presentations from 2017 NDS Montreal 
    Ancient Engineers to Modern Innovations - A STE(A)M Experience for Middle to High School Students 
    Hit Docent Refresh Button for High Energy Tours 
    Honoring the Warriors: Tours for Veterans 
    Maintaining Excellence in the Docent Corps 
    Creative Explorers: A Creative Thinking Tour for 3 to 5 Year Olds


What if I have a docent related question or problem – what do I do?

Docent related questions can be emailed to:  They will be reviewed and forwarded to the appropriate person to assist you. The Docent Handbook is a great resource that offers a comprehensive guide to being a docent.


When will the new edition of The Docent Handbook be available?

The Docent Handbook 2 is now available! Click HERE for information and to place an order. 



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